It has been a wonderful 22 years of memories for D.C. United at RFK Stadium, but on Sunday afternoon, the team could not send out the only home it has known in glory, falling 2-1 to the New York Red Bulls. Sunday marked the last time that United would grace the field at RFK, with a move to their new home at Audi Field coming next summer.
A win in a season that has been a big let down would have been fitting, but a second half comeback from the Red Bulls, spurred on by a red card to Luciano Acosta, meant that United’s last game at home ended like so many others in 2017, in defeat.
In front of 41,418 fans at RFK, United broke ahead just before the break, thanks to Paul Arriola’s first goal in the Black-and-Red. A pass from Russell Canouse was dummied by Zoltan Stieber, and Acosta quickly picked up the pass in space on the left. Acosta picked his head up to cross towards the far post. Arriola was all alone, but had to expertly volley past Luis Robles, and United had the one goal advantage going into the break.
Needing a two-goal win to retain the Atlantic Cup, Arriola almost doubled his tally in the 61st minute, but he was denied by a great save by Robles. United had been pushing for that second goal, but quickly saw their hopes of the Atlantic Cup, and one final win at RFK, slip through their hands.
In the 68th minute, New York were level through Michael Murillo, who scored his second goal of the season. A well worked 1-2 with Muhamed Keita allowed Keita to loft a pass into the box, where Murillo had continued his run. Murillo beat keeper Steve Clark to the ball, and looped an one-timed shot over the keeper, to reset the game at a goal apiece.
Two minutes later, Acosta got his red card, essentially ending United’s hopes on the last day. Acosta just missed converting a cross from Ian Harkes, but got into a tiff with several Red Bulls. David Gantar wasted little time showing Acosta a red card, with replays pointing to a possible kick at Alex Muyl in the aftermath of his shot attempt. It was the second ejection for Acosta on the season.
Then, in the 75th minute, the Red Bulls got their game winning goal through Gonzalo Veron. A nifty back heel from Vincent Bezecourt freed Muyl down the flank, allowing for a cross into the box. Muyl’s cross got all the way to the other side of the goal, with Clark taking a poor angle to the ball, allowing Veron to tap home.
Veron could had padded New York’s lead in the 84th minute, after Robinson was whistled for a handball on a shot from Bezecourt. The Argentine, who converted a penalty last month against Clark in a 3-3 draw, could not deceive the keeper on this occasion, with Clark diving to his right to push the shot away.
But there were no last minute heroics from United on the day. Despite the boisterous crowd, United’s 10 men couldn’t mount much of a challenge late on, and conceded the Atlantic Cup trophy with their eighth loss at home in 2017.