D.C. UnitedDC
Wed, Aug 29
8:00 PM ET
NY Red BullsRBNY

Preview: Playoff positioning on the line when DC host RBNY

August 29, 2012 (WEEK 26, MLS Game #246)
8 p.m. ET (Galavisión; MSG+)
D.C. United and the New York Red Bulls face yet another crunch match in the Eastern Conference as the two clubs meet Wednesday evening at RFK Stadium with the Atlantic Cup on the line. United return home following a 3-0 defeat at the Montréal Impact last weekend that left them in fifth place and the final playoff spot in the division, by just a single point. The Red Bulls kicked off their two-game road swing with a 1-1 draw at East leaders Sporting Kansas City, still sitting in second place in the conference.
REFEREE: Ricardo Salazar. AR1 (bench): Peter Manikowski; AR2 (opposite): Craig Lowry; 4th: Ted Unkel
MLS Career: 156 games; FC/gm: 27.0; Y/gm: 3.5; R: 45; pens: 57
D.C. UNITED – OUT: MF Lance Rozeboom (L knee ACL tear); DF Robbie Russell (L plantar fasciitis); DF Daniel Woolard (concussion-like symptoms); DOUBTFUL: FW Maicon Santos (R toe soreness); PROBABLE: MF Lewis Neal (L adductor strain)
NEW YORK RED BULLS – OUT: DF Rafa Marquez (L calf strain); GK Ryan Meara (hip injury)
NY: Joel Lindpere
DC: Maicon Santos, Chris Pontius, Dwayne De Rosario, Andy Najar, Dejan Jakovic, Lionard Pajoy, Bill Hamid
NY: Kenny Cooper, Connor Lade, Victor Palsson
  • ALL-TIME (58 meetings): United 31 wins (1 shootout), 114 goals … Red Bulls 20 wins (1 shootout), 85 goals …Ties 7
  • AT RFK (30 meetings): United 18 wins (1 shootout), 65 goals … Red Bulls 9 wins (1 shootout), 47 goals … Ties 3
  • 2012 (MLS)
  • 4/22: DC 4, NY 1 (Pontius 8, 32, 69; DeLeon 36 – Henry 72)
  • 6/24: NY 3, DC 2 (Barklage 20, 47+; Solli 55 – Pontius 1, 66)
  • The teams are meeting for a third time this season. On April 14, a hat trick from Chris Pontius and a Nick DeLeon strike led to a 4-1 United victory at RFK Stadium. On June 24, Pontius scored twice again, but Brandon Barklage netted twice against his former club and Jan Gunnar Solli added the winner as the Red Bulls took a 3-2 home victory.
  • The Red Bulls had won their last two visits to RFK Stadium in dominant fashion, scoring six goals without reply. The Red Bulls’ 2-0 win in May 2010 was their first in the nation’s capital since 2005.
  • The Red Bulls have won the Atlantic Cup the last two years, with three wins in the 10 years it has been contested. New York first won in 2003. Goal difference is the first tie-breaker, followed by away goals; if still tied, the Red Bulls (as holders) will retain the cup.
  • Coaches' records: Ben Olsen v NY: P4 W2 L2 D0 … Hans Backe vs. DC: P6 W3 L2 D1
  • United got off to a flying start, taking the lead after just 31 seconds when an unmarked Chris Pontius headed home a cross from the right by Danny Cruz. It was the earliest goal scored in a game in D.C. club history.
  • The Red Bulls drew even in the 20th minute. Joel Lindpere whipped in a quality ball from a corner on the left that an onrushing Brandon Barklage struck with an acrobatic flying kick to beat United goalkeeper Bill Hamid.
  • Barklage then his for his second goal just before halftime, punishing his former team again by striking a sensational right-footed volley from 19 yards out after a free kick was blocked by the United wall.
  • New York added to their lead in the 55th minute. A low cross from Lindpere was sent in from the left and found Jan Gunnar Solli, who fired a shot that Hamid saved. But the Red Bulls midfielder was first to pounce on the rebound, knocking in a left-footed effort off the near post.
  • United got themselves back into it 11 minutes later. Pontius scored his fifth of the season against the Red Bulls when Santos fed him a seeing-eye through ball, and rounded a rushing Meara before easily tapping home.
  • NEW YORK RED BULLS (4-4-1-1): Ryan Meara - Brandon Barklage, Heath Pearce, Rafa Marquez (Stephen Keel 87), Roy Miller (Victor Palsson 76) - Jan Gunnar Solli, Joel Lindpere (Thierry Henry 69), Dax McCarty, Connor Lade - Mehdi Ballouchy, Kenny Cooper.
  • D.C. UNITED (4-3-1-2): Bill Hamid - Robbie Russell, Brandon McDonald, Dejan Jakovic, Daniel Woolard - Danny Cruz (Branko Boskovic 59), Perry Kitchen, Nick DeLeon (Andy Najar 70) - Dwayne De Rosario - Chris Pontius, Hamdi Salihi (Maicon Santos 46).
D.C. United suffered a 3-0 defeat to the Montréal Impact on Saturday afternoon at Stade Saputo. United are in fifth place in the Eastern Conference with 40 points from 25 games.
  • The home side broke through in the 24th minute. Marco Di Vaio perfectly timed his run past the United back line to latch onto Patrice Bernier’s through pass, before curling it into the top right corner of goalkeeper Bill Hamid’s net.
  • Montreal doubled their lead soon after the break, when D.C. defender Emiliano Dudar was adjudged to have fouled Impact midfielder Collen Warner with a shoulder charge in the penalty box. Bernier converted from the spot as the Impact are a perfect nine-for-nine on penalty kicks.
  • The Impact completed the win in stoppage time as Bernier put on a deadly dribble move to beat defender Brandon McDonald in the box before finishing with the help of a deflection.
  • United head coach Ben Olsen made four changes to the team that rolled to a 4-2 win against the Chicago Fire at RFK Stadium. Emiliano Dudar and Mike Chabala came into the back four and Lewis Neal started in midfield, in place of Dejan Jakovic, Chris Pontius and Nick DeLeon, and Long Tan started up top for Dwayne De Rosario.
  • D.C. UNITED (4-4-2): Bill Hamid - Chris Korb (Branko Boskovic 51), Brandon McDonald, Emiliano Dudar, Mike Chabala (Chris Pontius 58) - Andy Najar, Marcelo Saragosa, Perry Kitchen, Lewis Neal - Long Tan (Dwayne De Rosario 61), Lionard Pajoy.
  • United have now lost five consecutive games away from RFK Stadium, their last road win coming June 24 at Philadelphia Union. Beginning with the trip to Real Salt Lake this weekend, five of United’s final eight games will be on the road.
  • “These are tough to take. They start to add up and it becomes an emotional week for us and our players because they’re working their tails off,” Olsen said. “They’re doing what they can and I was very happy with their effort and mentality through the group.”
  • Facing the middle game of a five-game span over 14 days, United head coach Ben Olsen started leading scorer Chris Pontius and set-piece orchestrator Branko Boskovic all on the bench in Montréal.
  • “You can’t play these guys every game, with two days’ rest in between three games,” said Olsen. “I went out with a group that had some energy and overall they were pretty good.”
  • Said Pontius: “Three games in six days, I don’t think a lot of us have done that in a while. We need to regroup because we have another game on Wednesday. It’s a quick turnaround for next game too. Hopefully, we can continue our home success on Wednesday.”
  • Dwayne De Rosario was originally planned to be in the starting lineup, but he also began the match on the bench.
  • “Dwayne had a little bit of a calf that we weren’t sure whether or not it was the right thing to do to push him 90 minutes,” Olsen said.
  • All three came on around the hour mark, with Boskovic and Pontius coming on for fullbacks Chris Korb and Mike Chabala. Andy Najar started the game in a wide midfield role after playing at right back vs. Chicago.
  • United rookie midfielder Nick DeLeon was another late scratch, remaining at the team hotel for the game because of illness.
  • “You don’t get a break,” Olsen said. “The guys, obviously, a bunch of them were leggy. Even the guys coming in didn’t look 100 percent.”
The New York Red Bulls kicked off their road swing with a quality result, gaining a 1-1 draw with Sporting Kansas City on Sunday evening at Livestrong Sporting Park. The Red Bulls are in second place in the Eastern Conference, with 45 points from 26 games.
  • Sporting took the lead after just four minutes. Graham Zusi lofted a ball over the top from midfield, and Teal Bunbury chipped it over center back Markus Holgersson as Red Bulls goalkeeper Bill Gaudette came off his line. Kei Kamara outjumped defender Connor Lade and headed the ball into an empty net.
  • The visitors drew even with some good fortune in the 28th minute. Sebastien Le Toux lofted a long free kick from the left flank toward Tim Cahill on the back post. Sporting ’keeper Jimmy Nielsen didn’t come out to challenge for the ball, and Kamara’s attempt to head it away instead found the back of Sporting’s net.
  • Red Bulls head coach Hans Backe made three changes that came back for a 3-2 victory against the Portland Timbers at Red Bull Arena. Wilman Conde came into the back four for Roy Miller, Teemu Tainio started in midfield for Joel Lindpere, and Kenny Cooper started up top in place of Thierry Henry.
  • NEW YORK RED BULLS (4-2-3-1): Bill Gaudette - Connor Lade, Heath Pearce, Markus Holgersson, Wilman Conde - Teemu Tainio, Dax McCarty - Sebastien Le Toux, Tim Cahill, Jan Gunnar Solli (Roy Miller 90) - Kenny Cooper (Joel Lindpere 70).
  • While the draw ended a three-game losing streak on the road for the Red Bulls, they still saw their winless streak away from Red Bull Arena stretched to seven games. The Red Bulls last won on the road on May 19, at Montréal.
  • “Most important, we stopped our losing streak on the road. We lost [three] in a row,” said Red Bulls head coach Hans Backe. “I think that we came back great after being down after four minutes of play, especially against a good team like Sporting KC. They forced us to defend, but I think that we did very well. I do not think that they had one 100% scoring chance during 90 minutes.”
  • The Red Bulls did not record a single shot on goal – yet still came away with the 1-1 result. They took just three total attempts at goal, matching the club record for fewest in a game, set five times previously.
  • “It was hard for us to keep the ball on target because we were defending a lot. When we got the ball we tried to get into position, but they were pressing a lot. We continued to work together and even though we didn’t have a lot of shots, we got a result,” said Sebastien Le Toux. “Maybe we can shoot more against D.C. on Wednesday.”
  • Said Dax McCarty: “We didn’t create too many chances from the run of play but we hit them on the counter a few times. We probably could have snuck one or two goals in there at the end of the game. I thought we defended fantastically as a team. We snuck out of here with a point and now we get them twice at home.”
  • The Red Bulls did not have Thierry Henry available, after he remained home for the birth of his son.
  • “He is a big part of our team, one of the best players on this team. He brings a lot of charisma and leadership, so it was good for us to be without him one time to see how we could do if Thierry is not going to be here,” said Le Toux. “I think everybody responded well and we are hoping for him to come back on Wednesday against D.C.”
  • After the trip to United, the Red Bulls have three weeks off before they take on Columbus at Red Bull Arena on Sept. 15. Five of the Red Bulls final seven league games are at home – where they are undefeated this season (9-0-3).
  • “It’s got to be a mentality that we are getting down to the wire now, it’s crunch time, it’s playoff time. I think a starting point for us is to defend well, keep clean sheets. I think we’re always going to get a few chances and score goals,” said McCarty. “… [D.C.] beat us 4-1 down there earlier in the season. It’s a punch in the gut. We have to go down there and make sure we don’t give up an early goal. I think that’s been our Achilles heel all season. I think we are undefeated in 40 games when we score first.
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