The start of the 2015 MLS Cup Playoffs got underway with another huge matchup for the New York Red Bulls as they faced their arch rivals in DC United. And when you have these two sides facing each other it is always a very tough and volatile matchup in the regular season as well as the playoffs.
Last season in the Eastern Conference the Red Bulls hosted the first leg and dominated the match with a two goal scoreline and when they went down to our Nation’s Capital it would be a big away goal that would put the Red Bulls ahead on the aggregate as well as the away goals rule.
This time there was no Thierry Henry, no Tim Cahill and no Peguy Luyindula who came in and was the savior that day in RFK Stadium, this time it was the entire team that went out there and got the big away goal on a set piece that put the Red Bulls ahead on Aggregate. A 72nd minute set piece that was served up by Sacha Kljestan who started to go but stopped his start.
Then he took a second start and when he bent that ball toward the DC area the Captain of the club was at the right place at the right time. Dax McCarty found a way to get free from the defense and with a diving header beats keeper Bill Hamid to the back post and the big away goal was converted and the New York Red Bulls after a full 90 minutes takes the aggregate lead on a one goal victory.
This was a DC United side that went thru their own ninety minute marathon with the New England Revolution and squeaked out a 2-1 victory a few days ago and when they took on the Red Bulls today, once again they had a solid first 10 to 15 minutes with the ball. But once again they faltered where it really mattered and that was not converting chances.
But here’s how strange that sentence is because DC United while getting nine shots against the Red Bulls, none of them were on frame. The former RSL teammates who are on DC United in Alvaro Saborio & Fabian Espindola who shot the ball three times each never got it at Luis Robles. For the first time in MLS Cup Playoff history DC United never registered a Shot On Goal and this shows that there is more problems than whatever Ben Olsen might be leading on.
But at the moment there is a big problem that is looming over the head of Jesse Marsch when it comes to his big French Centerback in Damien Perrinelle as he was stretchered off the field and carted off within the first five minutes of the second half. He challenged for a ball and landed hard on his left foot and his left knee buckled.
During the game you saw Perrinelle on the bench with a wrap around his left knee and crutches next to him but while we shouldn’t speculate how bad the injury is, it’s safe to assume that he will not be available for the 2nd leg. There could be a call for Karl Ouimette to be ready as a substitute, if there might be a problem in the second leg and needs to go for either Miazga or Zubar.
But right now the Red Bulls have an advantage on the Aggregate and within a week you will hear a very loud Red Bull Arena as the home side returns and the excitement will be palpable for a possible clinching to the Eastern Conference Finals.