For 35 minutes, the second leg of D.C. United and the New York Red Bulls‘ Eastern Conference semifinals series featured little action and few scoring chances. Then, as it always does, the opening goal opened things up for both sides and turned this game upside down.
United midfielder Nick DeLeon scored the game’s only goal (below video) in the 37th minute when he headed into an open Red Bulls net an inch-perfect cross from left back Taylor Kemp. With 45 minutes left to play and United suddenly only a goal away from pulling level on aggregate, there’s still everything to play for at RFK Stadium.
The Red Bulls will undoubtedly feel they should have been awarded a penalty kick four minutes before DeLeon scored when United defender Bobby Boswell unintentionally — but a fair ways away from the rest of his body — handled a Bradley Wright-Phillips cross from five yards away. Referee Ismail Elfath was in perfect position to make his call, he did so and waved away RBNY’s appeals.
Wright-Phillips, the league’s leading goalscoring in the regular season (27), missed a golden opportunity to pull RBNY back to level on the day and grab a vital away goal in the 41st minute. Wright-Phillips turned his defender the wrong way at the top of the 18-yard box and was through one-on-one with United goalkeeper Bill Hamid who came out to make the game’s biggest save thus far at the top of his 6-yard-box.
As things stand, 1-0 in favor of United on the day, the Red Bulls would advance to the Eastern Conference finals in two weeks.
DC United: Hamid, Kemp, Birnbaum, Boswell, Franklin, Pontius, Kitchen, Arnaud, DeLeon, Rolfe, Espindola
Goal: DeLeon (37′)
Subs: Willis, Estrada, Inkoom, Johnson, Neal, Martin, Korb
New York Red Bulls: Robles, Eckersley, Olave, Sekagya, Miller, Alexander, McCarty, Sam, Luyindula, Henry, Wright-Phillips
Subs: Meara, Armando, Duvall, Bover, Lade, Oyongo, Cahill