The game in 100 words (or less): We’ve done it, folks. We’ve officially survived a truly awful, 180-minute MLS Cup Playoffs series featuring D.C. United, and we’re all still here. At no point in 2015 were United exactly delightful to watch, but come playoff time Ben Olsen’s side only grew worse on the eye. It took them more than one and a half full games to register their first shot on target in the series (exact time below). Anyway, thanks to a 1-0 in the second leg (2-0 on aggregate) at Red Bull Arena on Sunday, the Supporters’ Shield-winning New York Red Bulls are on to the Eastern Conference finals, where they’ll face the East’s no. 2 seed, Columbus Crew SC. Dax McCarty scored the only goal of the series, way back in leg no. 1. The Red Bulls possess home-field advantage for as long as they may stay alive in these playoffs, meaning MLS Cup would be played at Red Bull Arena should they advance out of the East.
Three moments that mattered
2′ — Grella smashes the crossbar — Set-piece routines that are drawn up, practiced and executed to (near, in this case) perfection are a joy to behold. The Red Bulls very nearly pulled off a gorgeous one of their own in the 2nd minute, but Mike Grella, who’s been a revelation for them this season, banged his shot off the crossbar.
56′ — Espindola break’s D.C.’s putrid streak — It took United 146 minutes of trying (sort of, but not really) to register their first shot of this two-leg conference semifinal. Fabian Espindola was credited with this great achievement, a day United fans will surely savor for decades to come.
92′ — BWP rounds Hamid to seal it — Bradley Wright-Phillips took the through ball from Gonzalo Veron, let it run on past the on-rushing Bill Hamid and slotted the ball into an open net to stamp the exclamation point on a thoroughly deserved victory for the Red Bulls.
Man of the match: Dax McCarty
Goalscorers: Wright-Phillips (92′)