When you visit a place you haven’t won in during the playoffs that is venerable RFK Stadium in our nation’s capital and you haven’t beaten your big rivals in the last four playoff match ups, sooner than later you are due to break that jinx. With an aggregate lead heading into the second leg of the Eastern Conference Semi-Finals, the Red Bulls pulled out a big goal aggregate win and will await the winner of the other Semi-Finals.
After Nick DeLeon cut the aggregate deficit to a goal in the 37th minute the Red Bulls were looking for that crucial away goal to put DC United into a bigger hole and did so in the 57th minute as the magic of Thierry Henry was able to set it up on the far side. After DC United complained about the ball being out of bounds, the Red Bulls started to create an attacking run.
Bradley Wright-Phillips got into position to head the ball back towards Henry because he wasn’t in position to shoot at the net. As Henry collected the ball and assessed what he wanted to do, he made a run towards goal and took on Sean Franklin. A great cross in front of the DC net and Peguy Luyindula came out of nowhere to left knee the ball past Bill Hamid and the Red Bulls extended the lead back to two goals.
The atmosphere for DC fans were drowned, the far side seats that are used to being bouncy and wild were quiet and still. Even thought Franklin was able to pull another one back to make the aggregate 3-2 at the first minute of five in second half stoppage time, DC United needed two more goals to win the series since they never converted at Red Bull Arena on Away Goals.
For the first time in five tries in the MLS Cup Playoffs the New York Red Bulls Finally defeated DC United and they will now await for the winner of the second leg between the New England Revolution & the Columbus Crew, but sadly they will be missing defender Roy Miller for the entire series as he was issued a yellow card in the 42nd minute for a foul from behind that had him missing the 1st leg, but he earned a red card with a silly high boot to the right shoulder of Franklin that gave him a straight red in the 78th minute and put the Red Bulls down to ten men.
After so many playoff busts by this squad since the league began in 1996 and on to their best run since the 2008 season going thru the Western Conference Playoffs, the New York Red Bulls are on their way to the Eastern Conference Finals which will begin in two weeks after the International Break.
Author: Daniel Feuerstein