D.C. United were well on their way to an important win and celebrating Dwayne De Rosario’s 100th MLS goal when a bolt of lightning from the weaker right foot of Red Bull defender Wilman Conde spoiled the party in United’s eventual 2-2 draw with New York Red Bull last night at RFK Stadium.
The win would have vaulted United into 3rd place into the tightly congested Eastern Conference but as it happens the Black-and-Red have to settle for a 4th place tie with the Chicago Fire. The draw extended United’s home unbeaten streak to a club record-tying 13 games and also gave United the edge in winning the much less prestigious Atlantic Cup.
The draw felt like a loss however as it allowed the Columbus Crew to gain ground with their 95th minute win over the Philadelphia Union. They are only two points behind United but with a game in hand. Chicago, currently tied with United on 41 points, also has a game in hand on United. Montreal still is in with a shout as they are 5 points off the pace but they only have 6 matches remaining (United has 8, Chicago and Columbus have 9 each) and their season will be on the line this Saturday when they travel to meet the Crew in Ohio.
United fell behind in the 19th minute on a goal from Joel Lindpere but equalized just two minutes later when Nick DeLeon slipped past the Red Bull defense and guided an easily savable ball past Red Bull goalkeeper Bill Gaudette. DeLeon returned the favor in the 72nd minute when his long ball from inside United’s half of the field found De Rosario at the top of the penalty area. The Canadian striker beat the onrushing Gaudette and the cushioned header settled easily into the open net giving De Rosario his landmark 100th goal. De Rosario now becomes only the 7th player in MLS history to reach the Century mark in goals scored.
Gaudette’s save on a 74th minute bomb from DeLeon kept the visitors in the match until the Conde unleashed on a loose ball at the top of the penalty area that gave Bill Hamid no chance. Red Bull is now winless in their last eight road matches but pulled within a point of Sporting Kansas City at the top of the Eastern Conference while maintaining their five point lead over United.
United now has turn their attention to a difficult road match this weekend in Sandy, Utah against Real Salt Lake. United is currently on a five-game road losing streak and has an 0-5-1 all-time record at Rio Tinto Stadium. Not exactly a comforting thought. After that match, United will have a two-week break and will begin their final playoff push. It is very likely that by the time United host the New England Revolution on September 15th they could be on the outside looking in for a playoff spot.