With Taxi Fountas out of the action due to back spasms, D.C. United needed to embody the “next man up” mentality in a big way if they were to have hopes of taking points away from Harrison, New Jersey. Unfortunately, the Black-and-Red left Red Bull Arena empty-handed.
Early in the first half, D.C. was put on the back foot, defending set piece after set piece while the New York Red Bulls did their best to keep the pressure on. Several close calls tested the Black-and-Red’s back line and kept the drama turned up to the max.
In the 8’, 19-year-old John Tolkin came through with an early bit of spice, with a deft nutmeg to make his way forward deeper into D.C.’s defensive half. Thomas Edwards was more dangerous, as he nearly found the back of D.C.’s net in the 13’ off a set piece. Julian Gressel got there first with a header to thwart his attempt.
An early change saw Chris Durkin come on for Brad Smith in the 18’ as a precautionary measure. Unfortunately, that meant Durkin was playing out of position. He put up a tremendous effort but the left side definitely missed Smith.
Even with an added 5’ of stoppage time, the Black-and-Red and the Red Bulls headed to the locker rooms in a scoreless draw. There was no shot on goal for either team in the first half.
While D.C. and the Red Bulls had held one another to account throughout the first 45’, the second half turned into a flurry of goals for the Harrison side.
Lewis Morgan took a quick run deep into D.C. defensive territory in the 48’, and alongside Patryk Klimala almost found some daylight to stage an attack. D.C.’s backline went to work to deny them.
On the counter, Sofiane Djeffal sent a ball forward to Edison Flores, looking to strike first. It was Michael Estrada who would pick up the effort and take a shot from distance in the 51’. Estrada’s attempt didn’t find purchase. Moments later he would fire a through ball to a waiting Julian Gressel in the 53’. Despite a good opportunity, Gressel couldn’t capitalize on the moment.
The Red Bulls were quick to subdue D.C. as they staged their counter attack and Luquinhas scored in the 54’. He would go for a brace, scoring again in the 58’. A leaky D.C. backline was partly to blame, but the Red Bulls have mastered a quick transition. By the 63’ Lewis Morgan found the third goal of the match for his side, leaving D.C. desperate.
Although the Black-and-Red finally found their answer in an Ola Kamara goal in the 87’, it was entirely too late to even consider splitting points. The final straw came in the 90’ when Tony Alfaro scored an own goal, putting the Red Bulls up 4-1.
Head coach Chad Ashton made no excuses, saying, “from the opening whistle they out-competed us… we just weren’t good enough.”
D.C. United will play again in the Capital Cup on June 1 and 7 but will not resume the regular MLS season until June 18. They travel to meet the Chicago Fire at Soldier Field.
Happy international break everyone!
- It’s the little things. Head coach Chad Ashton has emphasized the need for the Black-and-Red to maintain a good defensive shape, avoid giving up soft goals, and improve tactically. There is still quite a bit of work to be done.
- Taxi is key. Taxi ‘Fountas' absence was noticed. A LOT.
- Really, it’s time for a break. D.C. United has had a rough couple of months. No excuses, but the players deserve some time to mentally reset after all that’s happened. Hopefully, they will come back fresh. Russel Canouse said, “maybe we can use this break to come out stronger and put together some results.”
MLS Regular Season - Game 14
New York Red Bulls: 4 (Luquinhas 54’ and 58’, Morgan 63’, OG-Tony Alfaro 90’)
D.C. United: 1 (Kamara 87’)
New York Red Bulls: (3-4-2-1) Carlos Coronel, Sean Nealis, Aaron Long (Omir Fernandez 46’), Thomas Edwards, Cristian Cásseres Jr.(Tom Barlow 80’), Frankie Amaya, John Tolkin (Jason Pendant 80’), Dylan Nealis, Patryk Klimala (Caden Clark 67’), Lewis Morgan, Luquinhas (Dru Yearwood 70’)
D.C. United: (3-4-3) Bill Hamid, Steven Birnbaum, Brendan Hines-Ike, Donovan Pines (Tony Alfaro 58’ ), Sofiane Djeffal, Russel Canouse (Kimrani Smith 81’), Brad Smith (Chris Durkin 18’), Julian Gressel, Michael Estrada, Edison Flores (Jackson Hopkins 81’), Nigel Robertha (Ola Kamara 58’)
New York Red Bulls: Klimala 50’
D.C. United: Hines-Ike 27’, Djeffal 42’