MLS Cup Playoffs: DC United 0-1 New York Red Bulls

1 Comment

The game in 100 words (or less): The New York Red Bulls, the best team throughout the 2015 Major League Soccer regular season (winners of the Supporters’ Shield), are halfway to Eastern Conference finals following a 1-0 victory over their Atlantic Cup rivals, D.C. United, in the first, away, leg of the two sides’ conference semifinals matchup. Dax McCarty scored the game’s only goal, a header from close range in the 72nd minute, to give the Red Bulls a one-goal advantage heading into next Sunday’s second leg at Red Bull Arena. United failed to put a single shot on target through 90 minutes of soccer on Sunday, which is far from a surprise considering their amazing feat from back in August.

[ MORE: MLS playoff predictions | Preseason predictions revisited ]

Three moments that mattered

33′ — Hamid’s face-save denies Grella — The best trait of Bill Hamid, professional goalkeeper extraordinaire, is his ability to close down would-be shooters quickly, make himself a gigantic, all-consuming obstacle. Sometimes that means making a save with your face, because you’ve positioned yourself so well and closed off every possible avenue to goal.

69′ — Zubar cleans out Halsti, only sees yellow — The Red Bulls should have been down to 10 men when Ronald Zubar, who replaced an injured Damien Perrinelle in the 51st minute, flung his entire body into a 50-50 challenge on Markus Halsti, missed the ball completely and went straight through Finnish midfielder with his foot raised and studs up.

72′ — McCarty heads home for a huge away goal — Three minutes later, McCarty, professional midfield engine extraordinaire, was left completely unmarked at the back post, so when Sacha Kljestan’s free kick arrived three yards out from goal, the Ginger Ninja took his chance to give the Red Bulls a deserved lead.

[ FOLLOW: All of PST’s MLS coverageStandings | Stats | Schedule ]

Man of the match: Dax McCarty

Goalscorers: McCarty (72′)