Harrison, N.J., November 9, 2015 – D.C. United’s season ended today very much in the style it has become accustomed to. Through much of 2015, United has put forth an honest, tough defensive effort backed by superior goalkeeping.
At the end of the day, as it was on this day and on most days this season, United had little to nothing to show in the attacking third of the field and their season ended in frustration with a 1-0 loss to New York Red Bulls yesterday afternoon at Red Bull Arena in Harrison, New Jersey.
United’s mission was clear heading into this match trailing by 1 goal in the aggregate series. Keep Red Bull off the scoreboard and manage to get the goal that could get the match to extra time and perhaps penalty kicks to decide the winner.
Bradley Wright-Phillips put an end to that scenario when he scored in stoppage time to give Red Bull the lead and crush any hope United had of leveling the series. United’s shortcomings offensively in this series once again was in the forefront as they rarely tested Red Bull goalkeeper Luis Robles with a handful of half-chances and only two nondescript shots on goal, their only shots on goal through the two games.
Red Bull will now face the Columbus Crew in the Eastern Conference finals after the Crew defeated the Montreal Impact 3-1 after extra time yesterday. That series will start in two weeks as MLS will skip playing next weekend for the International break which sees the United States start their journey to Russia 2018 when they face St. Vincent and the Grenadines in St. Louis, Missouri.
As for United, this match typified the issues and struggles offensively the team had for most of the season. United scored only 9 goals in 18 total road matches in MLS this season and that lack of production once again forced Ben Olsen into a game plan that required his team to defend in numbers and limit Red Bull’s chances going forward.
That tactic worked for the most part but the Black-and-Red were unable to generate any quality scoring opportunities and they finally capitulated in stoppage time when United were forced to flood players forward. The series-clinching sequence began innocently enough with a routine clearance turned bad by captain Bobby Boswell. Boswell chested down a hopeful long ball easily enough but hesitated in booting the ball back up field and that allowed substitute Juan Veron to settle the ball and eventually center it to Wright-Phillips who easily evaded Bill Hamid and tapped the ball into an empty net as their most bitter rivals eliminated United from the playoffs for the second consecutive year.
United now will turn their attention to strengthening their roster ahead of the 2016 season and one thing is for sure, this team will most likely look very different to the one that was eliminated yesterday.