HARRISON, N.J. – The New York Red Bulls and DC United played to a 0-0 draw at Red Bull Arena on Saturday in a game the home side dominated everywhere but the scoreboard.
New York dictated large stretches of the match, out-shooting DC 24-4 and controlling 57 percent of the game’s possession. Fabian Espindola hit the bar twice and DC goalkeeper Bill Hamid scooped the ball of the line in stoppage time to keep the Red Bulls off the board, but New York never found a breakthrough.
“I think we deserved to win, no disrespect to DC,” Red Bulls coach Mike Petke said. “I think they fought hard for that point. Like I said, if we were playing a game of statistics we got three points today. Unfortunately it’s not a game of statistics and the ball didn’t fall in the net for us.”
The Red Bulls looked like they had won the game in stoppage time, but Hamid saved Brandon Barklage’s header off the line as he fell into the goal. After the game Hamid insisted the ball never crossed the line; replays proved inconclusive.
It was a frantic ending to a match that took a while to get going. A contentious opening few minutes gave way to a tame first half. New York forward Thierry Henry exchanged off-ball fouls with DC forward Lionard Pajoy, but there was little heat to follow in the opening 45 minutes.
Espindola’s 27th minute header hit the crossbar from 12 yards out, but that was the main chance for a Red Bulls team that played well in the middle third but offered little finishing quality around the net. Espindola was effective drifting wide and providing service from the left wing, where most of New York’s efforts came from in the first half.
For its part, United stayed compact and thwarted off New York’s forays forward. DC mustered up next to nothing offensively, though, even with the return of attacking midfielder Dwayne De Rosario, who made his season debut after serving a two-game suspension for a preseason altercation.
“We pissed the ball away so many times when we didn’t need to,” DC United coach Ben Olsen said. “We are missing that in our game right now. We know that, I know that, the players know. We’ll continue to work on it; we’ll continue to do better with the ball.”
DC produced even less after halftime, outside a 59th minute chance that Chris Pontius had denied by goalkeeper Luis Robles. New York’s pressure increased throughout the second half, but so too did the Red Bulls’ frustrations.
Hamid denied Tim Cahill on a tap-in from three yards out and Eric Alexander’s header two minutes later was cleared off the line by Chris Korb.
“I came in and told the boys I should have stuck it in the back of the net,” Cahill said. “But that’s what you do – you’ve got to pick yourself up and go again.”
Cahill thought Barklage’s stoppage time header crossed the line, but admitted nobody — including him — had a good angle to see it.
“It looked like it went over – it looked – it’s hard for the referee’s and officials to see it,” he said. “Sometimes they give it, sometimes they don’t. We felt it was in, but you’re always going to when you’re shooting on their goal.”
Coming away with no goals and one point in such a lopsided affair, Red Bulls players were surprisingly upbeat about the match. The finish was an upgrade from New York’s first two games of the year, a 3-3 draw in the opener in Portland and a 2-1 loss at San Jose last weekend. In both those games, the Red Bulls watched leads evaporate in the final minutes.
Jamison Olave’s own goal in the 83rd minute of the March 3 opener gave Portland a share of the points and New York followed that up by conceding another 83rd minute equalizer to San Jose on March 10, followed by a stoppage time game-winning penalty kick from Chris Wondolowski (which he got a second chance on thanks to Roy Miller, remember).
So while Saturday’s result left points on the table yet again, Red Bulls players, including midfielder Dax McCarty, were pleased with the effort.
“It’s disappointing but at the same time you can see the confidence that we played with today,” McCarty said. “Mike [Petke] instilled that in us before the game and we were ready. I think they had absolutely nothing. That was a complete performance; we haven’t had many since I’ve been here. That was a complete 90-minute performance top to bottom.”
New York (0-1-2, 2 pts.) heads north to face Montreal next Saturday in search of its first win, while DC United (1-1-1, 4 pts.) hosts Columbus next Saturday.
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