The Black-and-Red knew what they had to do to leave New Jersey with a result, unfortunately they just couldn’t get it done. Despite creating several quality chances, D.C. couldn’t get one or the two they needed past Robbles, New York’s keeper. What plagued them last night, was the same thing they’ve struggled with all season. Finishing in the attacking third and struggling to sustain possession. The Red Bulls have now ended D.C.’s postseason runs in back-to-back seasons. It was a hard fought series, but New York would win on an aggregate of 2-0 as they won both games 1-0.
New York’s midfield controlled the match yet again, generating good chances in the first half. The best may have come on a corner kick, the ball was played into the box by Kljestan. Zizzo would step over the ball, the fake opened up a pocket in the backline and Grella unleashed a blast that would hit the goal post. That was New York’s best chance in the first 45 as United did a good job defensively despite missing Sean Franklin out wide, Steve Birnbaum played in the vacant spot with Boswell and Opare at centre back.
As for chances for United, their best of the half came 35 minutes in from a great ball from Bill Hamid who drop kicked a pin point pass to Fabian Espindola. Fabi then beat a defender and fired a shot, but his final touch was a bit off and he pushed the shot wide. It was a quality chance, one that D.C. really needed to go in. The numbers in midfield routinely went in New York’s favor and that had a lot to do with the possession battle being won.
As expected it was a chippy and physical match, especially with these two teams and neither left anything out on that field. Kljestan and company would get another key chance in the 53rd minute. He would drop a perfectly placed pass to a running Zubar nearly in the goal mouth, but the defender’s touch was awful and the ball skied over the net.
United seemed to get into a rhythm attacking late in the half, they just couldn’t capitalize. They started to switch the field well and use the long ball to put pressure on New York’s backline. The Red Bulls centre backs and midfielders did a great job getting back to close down on United attackers, Saborio and Espindola got a few more quality chances in the final third, they just couldn’t finish. Nick DeLeon also got into a few advantageous spaced in the final third, but was looking to pass more than shoot.
The Red Bulls would strike in the 92nd minute after a sloppy giveaway led to a Wright-Phillips goal. He got two breakaways late in the game, but Hamid stoned him on the first. On the second, Wright-Phillips was able to evade the keeper and calmly place the ball in the back of the net.
Going forward the Red Bulls will have to worry about the space they surrendered on their back end, if they end up facing Montreal, Drogba won’t be forgiving. He’ll finish each and every chance he gets in that area of the field. Still it was a good series and the second consecutive year in which the Red Bulls sent the Black-and-Red home from the postseason.
For United, they don’t need to make any wholesale changes. Although, they do need to get a youngster up top with some size and or pace that can really put pressure on opposing defenses and more importantly finish. They may also want to figure out what to do in their midfield, Halsti and Arnaud are good pieces, but finding a younger partner next to Kitchen who’s a bit more offensive minded surely couldn’t hurt. We’ll see what changes if any are made over the offseason for D.C.