New York Red Bulls vs. DC United | MLS Cup Playoffs Match Preview
NEW YORK RED BULLS vs. D.C. UNITED
Red Bull Arena, Harrison, N.J.
November 8, 2015 (Audi 2015 MLS Cup Playoffs, Conference Semifinals Leg 2)
3 pm ET (ESPN, ESPN Deportes)
New York leads series 1-0 on aggregate
The New York Red Bulls head home to Red Bull Arena with a valuable away goal in their pocket, looking to protect their advantage when they meet D.C. United in the second leg of their Eastern Conference Semifinal Series. The Red Bulls got a late goal from Dax McCarty to claim a 1-0 win in the first leg at RFK Stadium. For United to advance, they will need to score and come away with a result at a place where they have not won since 2012 -- when they took a wild conference semifinal with the second leg played through a snowstorm, capturing a 1-0 win.
REFEREE: Ted Unkel.
AR1 (bench): Jeff Muschik; AR2 (opposite): Brian Dunn; 4th: Hilario Grajeda
WARNINGS (suspended next yellow card): NYR: Matt Miazga, Ronald Zubar, Bradley Wright-Phillips ... DC: Markus Halsti, Alvaro Saborio, Fabian Espindola
LEAGUE HEAD-TO-HEAD: NYR 24 wins (1 SO), 99 goals; DC 33 wins (1 SO), 122 goals; Ties 10
2015 HEAD-TO-HEAD: NYR 2 wins, 7 goals; DC 0 wins, 2 goals; Ties 1
AT RED BULL ARENA:
3/22: NYR 2, DC 0 (B. Wright-Phillips 25; Sam 71)
8/30: NYR 3, DC 0 (Sam 33; B. Wright-Phillips 42, 64)
MLS CUP PLAYOFFS: NYR 3 wins, 9 GF; DC 7 wins, 15 GF; Ties 2.
NEW YORK RED BULLS
- The first-leg victory was the first playoff win for the Red Bulls since their 2-0 first-leg win against D.C. United in last year's Eastern Conference Semifinals at Red Bull Arena.
- "We're not taking anything for granted; it's the playoffs. D.C. is going to come to Red Bull Arena fighting for dear life. If you have one slip-up all of a sudden, the game can be in balance there," said Red Bulls head coach Jesse Marsch. "With the away goal rules, we're far from out of the woods here. We've gotten to halftime, we've gotten a lead, but we certainly have a long way to go."
- Dax McCarty scored his second career MLS Cup Playoffs goal, his first since coming to the Red Bulls -- his first coming in 2010 with FC Dallas, when they reached MLS Cup.
- "We knew that it was going to be a battle in the midfield and if our three guys could win the second balls in the first half, it was going to give us an opportunity to get a goal and thatís what we started to see. We started to open up the game a little bit and got some chances on goal," said goalkeeper Luis Robles.
- Sacha Kljestan continued his rich end-of-season vein of form, collecting an assist on the McCarty goal, his third MLS career playoff assist. Kljestan ended the regular season with two goals and four assists over the final six matches.
- "There's a lot of little set plays that we build in; the little movements to try and unsettle the team or try to keep them guessing. It's always kind of up to Sacha [Kljestan] to be the quarterback of these different moments and decide what play weíre going to use and when," said Marsch.
- There was a massive injury blow for the Red Bulls, when center back Damian Perrinelle suffered a knee injury that forced him from the field early in the second half and will put him out for the remainder of the postseason.
- It was the first defensive shutout for the Red Bulls since the 2-0 win against United last year, and just their second in their last 11 playoff games. It was the second career clean sheet for Robles.
- "[Perrinelle has] been a huge part of what we've been doing. He was a huge part of today while he was in there, but then it also continues to speak about the belief we have in this team and guys. For Zubar to step in there the last 45 minutes was huge for us. So, we compliment the effort, there are a lot of things we do well and there are some things we'll need to work on," said Robles.
- United saw their four-game home undefeated streak in playoff games at RFK Stadium put to an end, dropping a postseason match on East Capitol Street for the first time since 2006.
- "We need to get a goal in the few chances that we have or do better on set pieces. We have to shore up the other side," said United head coach Ben Olsen. "They are better at home. They're as good in New York as any team in this league. It's a very tough place to play. I don't care. That doesn't concern me or these guys. It's a great challenge now to go in there and get the result that we need."
- United were held without a single shot on goal, the fourth team in MLS history to go through a playoff game without a single attempt on target -- the second time for D.C. United (also: Oct. 21, 2005, vs. Chicago).
- "We're not going to get a boatload of chances against them. We understand that so we have to do well with the few we have," said Olsen. "You've got plenty of set pieces and you have a few chances there again in the first half. In the second half, you saw which team had been off for a week, and you see a team that's been grinding and slogging through the last 10 days."
- Kofi Opare came into the side in central defense in place of Bobby Boswell, who was given a one-match ban following the Knockout Round win vs. New England in a decision by the MLS Disciplinary Committee.
- After Chris Pontius suffered a hamstring injury that forced him off early in the second half of the Knockout Round match, he was not available for the first leg vs. the Red Bulls, Chris Rolfe moving from the front line to a wide midfield role and Alvaro Saborio coming into the starting lineup.
- There was another late change when fullback Sean Franklin came off and Miguel Aguilar took his place for the final six minutes of the match.
- "[Franklin] has been battling an Achilles now for 6 months. Again, I think the second half took its toll. We've pushed these guys. Hopefully he'll be able to take a couple days off and get back for the weekend," said Olsen. [Michael] Farfan tweaked his groin a little bit early in the week. [As for Pontius], it's too early. We are going to do everything in our power to get him back. But you can only speed these things up as much as possible."