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A look back at D.C. United's 2015 games against the New York Red Bulls

United played the Metros three times in 2015, losing twice, while handing back the Atlantic Cup

Jim O'Connor-USA TODAY Sports

So we meet again. 2014 marked the first time in the first 19 seasons of playoffs in Major League Soccer that the New York Red Bulls knocked out D.C. United. Thanks to the Montreal Impact's win over Toronto FC on Thursday, the Black-and-Red will have another opportunity to take down the Bulls, with United set to host the first leg at 3 PM on Sunday, November 1 , with the return leg in New Jersey a week later.

Last year, after coasting to a 2-0 win at Red Bull Arena, the Metros got a second half goal at RFK Stadium, and then withstood a late barrage and a Roy Miller red card, advancing 3-2 on aggregate.

In 2015, United couldn't manage to keep hold of the Atlantic Cup, which they had won back in 2014. Two trips to RBA resulted in two losses, without a goal to their name. In both games, United saw themselves outplayed for most of the 90 minutes. In the game at home, weeks after the first RBA trip, United looked certain to win after a Perry Kitchen double, but a late equalizer split the spoils.

March 22: New York 2-0 D.C. United

First things first of course. Here's our recap of the game, and this is how the folks at Once a Metro saw the action.

D.C. got the season off to a stuttering start, losing out in the CONCACAF Champions League quarterfinals to Alajuelense, after a 5-2 defeat in Costa Rica in the first leg. A debut goal from Jairo Arrieta in the opening MLS weekend against the Montreal Impact gave United a nervy win, before a week off led into the first Red Bulls game.

The wounds from the 2014 playoffs were still fresh going into the game in March, but United did little that day to erase the bad memories at Red Bull Arena. The 2-0 scoreline was just about right, as the Metros controlled proceedings throughout. They got on the score sheet midway through the first half, as a long ball from Dax McCarty found Bradley Wright-Phillips in the box.

Steve Birnbaum and Bobby Boswell failed to close BWP down, allowing the striker to skip a shot under Bill Hamid for the lead. Chris Rolfe had an opportunity a couple of minutes later to equalize, but instead could only fire weakly at Luis Robles.

Jesse Marsch has NY playing a high press this season, and that press led to the second goal of the day, as Davy Arnaud was forced into a turnover 40 yards from his own goal. Wright-Phillips picked up the miscue, stormed towards the box, and found Lloyd Sam, who beat Hamid at the near post for the two goal lead.

Rolfe almost got one for United back immediately with about 13 minutes left, but his stretching effort from a Taylor Kemp cross was straight at Robles. Arnaud won a penalty in stoppage time that should have meant a goal for United, but Chris Pontius skied the effort well over the goal.

April 11: D.C. United 2-2 New York

Here's what we had to say about the game, and here's what OaM had on the draw.

United had followed up the loss to New York with two wins in a row, both stoppage time wins. Pontius, making up for his penalty miss, headed home the winner a week later in a 1-0 win over the LA Galaxy. In the first weekend in April, Hamid stood on his head against Orlando City SC, setting the stage for a stoppage time Luis Silva goal from a free kick that stole all three points for United.

Neither game was well played from United, which meant they had gone the first four games of the season without a complete performance, despite three wins. Of course, when they finally seemingly put it all together for the first time, they ended up with a draw, and not three points.

After 67 minutes against the Red Bulls, United were in control, and up 2-0. Kitchen had notched his first goal of the season in the first half, heading home a corner for the halftime lead. In the second half, Kitchen added to his tally in the 67th minute, smashing a shot in from outside of the box

That two goal cushioned only last one minute though, as just as United settled back in, the Red Bulls were on the board. Damien Perrinelle got one back for the Metros, heading in a corner to make things interesting again. United almost survived, but Hamid bobbled a Sacha Kljestan free kick in the 90th minute, and Sam was the quickest to react, scoring to earn a point for the road team, despite United being the better side for most of the game.

Hamid was just as good in 2015 as he was in 2014, when he won MLS Goalkeeper of the Year. In fact he might have been even better in '15, though he likely won't win the award, due to the fact that he only played 25 games with various injuries. But the only memorable mistake he made in '15 was punished by the Red Bulls. Hamid was the reason United had a chance to win a lot of games this year, evident most recently in the playoff win over the New England Revolution. But on this April night, his mistake meant the difference of two points.

August 30: New York 3-0 D.C. United

It might hurt, but check out my recap from my trip to RBA. Unfortunately, I had to write about the game. Unfortunately, so did Once a Metro.

United were dealing with a couple of injuries (see below) at the time, but still had a chance to cement their spot atop the Eastern Conference with a win at Red Bull Arena. NYRB still had games in hand, but the opportunity was there for United to put distance between them and their hated rivals.

August was a funny month the Black-and-Red. It had started with the incredible 6-4 victory over Real Salt Lake on August 1, and was followed by the 1-0 win at Montreal, where United scored on their only shot of the game. Two wins in CCL play meant United was on course to qualify for the quarterfinals in that competition, but losses to New York City FC and the San Jose Earthquakes showed some cracks in Ben Olsen's side.

With an opportunity to retain the Atlantic Cup, United instead ended August by laying an egg in New Jersey, being outplayed in just about every aspect in the 3-0 loss. Hamid made some big saves early on, just enough to indicate that United might be able to squeeze a result from some Hamid heroics.

Instead, Sam scored after 33 minutes, finishing off a move that was led by Wright-Phillips. Mike Grella then played provider for BWP, who smashed home a volley just before halftime. It was over by then, but Wright-Phillips beat a lazy offside trap from United in the second half, adding his second, rounding out the route.

Before the Columbus Crew SC capitulation on Decision Day, this was easily the worst game of United's season. They had looked poor in previous wins, draws, and losses, but for 90 minutes, they were completely outplayed by the New York Red Bulls. This loss came in the midst of a six game winless streak in MLS play, one that saw United go from first in the league, to the fourth seed in the Eastern Conference by the time the season was over.

How will things change for the playoff series? Well, for one, Fabian Espindola will finally be able to play against the Red Bulls this year. After getting into an altercation with the assistant referee at the end of the playoff loss in 2014, the Argentinian was suspended for the first six games of '15, which included the first two games against the Red Bulls.

Then Espindola got injured in practice after the Real Salt Lake game, forcing him to miss the third game in August. Olsen lamented the absence of Espindola after that game, as his side was thoroughly outplayed for 90 minutes, and lacked any creativity, settling for a few half chances the entire game. But that was also the first game that Davy Arnaud missed, after picking up a concussion in the loss against the San Jose Earthquakes. Markus Halsti has improved since, but he was picked at by the Red Bulls' high press the entire game.

United was under the gun last year in the first leg at RBA. Can they return the favor at RFK in 2015?