Former United player Brandon Barklage sent a clear message to Ben Olsen and his former team as his two goals helped power Red Bull New York to a 3-2 win tonight over D.C. United at Red Bull Arena in Harrison, NJ. Barklage, let go by United in the preseason, scored on two corner kicks in the first half to help Red Bull stun United and take a 2-1 lead into the half. The two goals by Barklage were his first two in his injury-plagued MLS career.
United got proceedings going early in this fast-paced match when Chris Pontius scored just 30 seconds into the match. Dwayne De Rosario and Danny Cruz worked a beautiful give-and-go down the right sideline and Pontius beat Red Bull goalkeeper Ryan Meara to the ball and flicked it into the goal for the stunning lead. However, it was the home side Red Bull who would respond with a flurry and dominate the rest of the first half.
Red Bull tied the match in the 20th minute when Barklage flashed in front of De Rosario on a corner kick and his flying outside of the right boot volley gave Bill Hamid no chance. At the end of the half Barklage struck again when a failed clearance from a corner fell right into the path of the fullback and his volley screamed into the opposite side netting for a well deserved 2-1 lead at the break for Red Bull.
After the break the deluge on United’s goal continued as the Black-and-Red’s defense was being torn apart by the quicker and more aggressive Red Bull midfield. In the 55th minute Red Bull extended the lead to 3-1 when Jan Gunner Solli scored on a Keystone Cops defensive effort from United. After the goal, Ben Olsen had no choice but to put in his attacking players from the bench and substitute Branko Boskovic helped turned the tide. Brankovic’s possession and calmness on the ball, which was missing entirely from the first hour of the match for United, helped United to rejoin the match.
In the 66th minute United drew closer when Pontius scored his second goal of the game (and team-leading 8th of the season) after an inch-perfect pass from Maicon Santos. However, television replays showed that Pontius was clearly offside but the goal stood as no flag was raised. United continued to pour on the pressure and had numerous opportunities to draw the match level only to see a few saves from Meara and some close offside calls ruin United’s comeback bid.
With the loss, United is tied with Red Bull at the top of the Eastern Conference with 30 points apiece, however United has the slight edge with a better goal difference at this point of the season. Red Bull also has a game in hand on United.
Next up for United is a home match next Saturday night against the expansion Montreal Impact. Montreal gave United all it could handle earlier this season in a 1-1 draw at RFK in April. This will be United’s only home game until August 4th.