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D.C. United battle to 1-1 draw at New York Red Bulls

Ola Kamara’s 13th goal of the season helped United come back from an early deficit for a road point

MLS: D.C. United at New York Red Bulls Vincent Carchietta-USA TODAY Sports

D.C. United and the New York Red Bulls battled, scrapped, and fought, but ultimately had to settle for a 1-1 draw at Red Bull Arena tonight. Dru Yearwood’s early deflected strike put United behind, but Ola Kamara’s fifth successful penalty kick conversion got the Black-and-Red level just before halftime, and helped keep the Red Bulls a full eight points behind D.C. in the East.

Hernán Losada was able to welcome Paul Arriola and Donovan Pines — who had missed ten games due to a foot injury — back into the team, but had to make do without returning internationals Edison Flores, Junior Moreno, and Andy Najar (all rested after recent World Cup qualifiers).

United has been used to fast starts this year, but instead were the victims of an early goal. A collision between Patryk Klimala and Pines along the touchline saw Klimala take possession. United wanted a foul, but referee Robert Sibiga wasn’t interested, and Klimala passed to the top of the box for Dru Yearwood. The English midfielder went for goal with power, and the ball glanced off of Russell Canouse’s heel to wrong-foot Jon Kempin, giving the Red Bulls a 6th minute lead.

Julian Gressel’s service created two chances for United in the ten minutes that followed, with Steven Birnbaum denied by Carlos Coronel’s 10th minute reflex save being followed by Ola Kamara sending a cross from the right harmlessly wide from a good position.

Kempin saved a different deflected shot as Tom Edwards’ free kick clipped Birnbaum on the way in, while United’s back three found it difficult to play through the Red Bulls’ team shape at times.

However, United got level in a familiar fashion just before halftime. A short corner routine saw Gressel, Yordy Reyna, and Kevin Paredes combine to find Arriola at the top of the box. Arriola’s shot struck Sean Nealis in the arm, and after a VAR review, Sibiga awarded a penalty. Ola Kamara sent Coronel the wrong way to convert the 44th minute spot kick for his 13th goal of the season.

Gerhard Struber’s side reached the 55th minute with just four shot attempts, prompting a move to bring on a second forward, eventually causing a spell of unrest for United that ultimately saw Canouse and Tony Alfaro both come up with important interventions, but no actual work in goal for Kempin.

United appeared to have carved out a winner in the 80th minute, relying on typical high pressing play to do it. Canouse won the ball in the Red Bulls’ defensive third, and play moved wide to Gressel on the right touchline. Gressel served the ball in early behind the scrambling defense, picking out Reyna, but the Peruvian sent his diving header from five yards out over an empty net.

The home side had a response barely a minute later, with a smart sequence opening up a chance for substitute forward Fábio that United were fortunate to watch fly wide.

The open play continued for a bit, with Paredes flicking the ball on cleverly for substitute Ramón Ábila, who danced away from defenders but in the end couldn’t find a shooting lane and saw a pass towards Yamil Asad cleared away. However, the combative nature of the game did leave both teams looking a bit drained in the final stages, and despite plenty of attempts from the old rivals to make something happen with some direct play, the defenses ended up ruling the day.

The draw sees United (9W-4D-10, 31 points) temporarily climb into 6th place in the Eastern Conference, pending the result of tonight’s CF Montreal game. United will continue a week-long sprint this Wednesday, as they host the Chicago Fire at 7:30pm.

Box Score

MLS Regular Season - Game 23
NY Red Bulls 1 (Yearwood 6)
D.C. United 1 (Kamara 44pen)

NYRB (4321): Carlos Coronel; Tom Edwards, Andrés Reyes, Sean Nealis, Andrew Gutman; Dru Yearwood (Cristian Cásseres Jr. 55), Sean Davis (C), John Tolkin (Youba Diarra 79); Wikelman Carmona (Omir Fernandez 46), Caden Clark (Fábio 55); Patryk Klimala (Omar Sowe 70)

DCU (343): Jon Kempin; Donovan Pines, Steven Birnbaum (C), Tony Alfaro; Julian Gressel, Russell Canouse, Drew Skundrich (Felipe Martins 63), Kevin Paredes; Paul Arriola (Ramón Ábila 63), Ola Kamara (Yamil Asad 87), Yordy Reyna (Joseph Mora 87)

NYRB - Nealis 44, Edwards 75
DCU - Skundrich 50