Nov 8, 2012, 10:36 PM EDT
The men of D.C. United keep doing what they do best these days, find a way. Any way, and quite often by the teeny tiniest of margins, through these 1-0 squeakers.
An 88th minute goal game United its latest 1-0 win, and definitely its biggest.
But that’s all it takes. Just one goal Thursday from Red Bull Arena decided what will be written as one of Major League Soccer all-time post-season memory makers, for reasons good and bad.
Quick recap of what this absolutely bananas two-leg conference semifinal series had: a Hurricane Sandy-related (and somewhat controversial) venue swap, a 24-hour match postponement due to a different winter storm, two own goals, two missed penalty kicks, one rare penalty kick retake order, three red cards and then the late, game-winner from a rookie.
While D.C. United, which advanced 2-1 on aggregate, prepares for the Eastern Conference finals against Houston, New York could well be prepping for a coaching change … and who knows what the team’s quirky management will do with an expensive, underachieving roster?
Man of the Match:
D.C. United rookie Nick DeLeon may go on to play year after glorious year in Major League Soccer and yet never score a bigger goal. He shook free (exploiting the positional gaffe of a fellow rookie) to take a clever pass from right back Robbie Russell and made no mistake with his right-footed finish in the 88th minute.
Threesome of knowledge: What we learned
Referee Mark Geiger got things right:
D.C. United goalkeeper Bill Hamid was apoplectic, but he was wrong. Referee Mark Geiger got this one right, as Hamid made contact with the onrushing Kenny Cooper with about 20 minutes remaining.
Hamid has done this before, getting out of control as he rushes out to confront shooters. Given the situation, Geiger had no choice; It’s a red card and a penalty kick – although Hamid was quite close to the edge of the penalty area.
Then the choice to order a re-take after Cooper nailed the original penalty kick? Geiger was right on that one, too.
It’s not a decision we see very often, and surely one that should only be ordered on egregious violations. Thierry Henry, getting about three big steps into the penalty area (trailed by two encroaching teammates) qualifies as egregious.
Cooper’s signature stutter-step worked against Henry and his teammates here – but they’ve seen Cooper do this before, right? We certainly have.
Oh, and Rafa Marquez’s red card (two yellows, that is)? Yep. That one was easy for Geiger.
Missed opportunities, the scourge of the Eastern Conference playoffs so far:
Let’s be clear, this wasn’t the orgy of squander we saw last night from Kansas City, where the Eastern Conference champs crashed out of the MLS playoffs while missing chances after begging chance. But the Red Bulls’ finishing simply wasn’t good enough Thursday. When you take a 0-0 match into the late minutes at home, you’ve left yourself open to the possibility of something unforeseen – like a goal against the run of play from a rookie.
That came about 15 minutes after United backup goalkeeper Joe Willis saved Cooper’s penalty kick. It came about five minutes after Dax McCarty skied a brilliant arrangement from Henry (who was far more lively and energetic in this one that in Saturday’s first leg in Washington.)
Henry went just wide off Cooper’s cross in the second half. Before the break, New York failed to score on three shots from in close as United struggled to clear the ball.
Again, we see that the MLS playoffs are all about timing:
The talented teams keep falling, Sporting Kansas City and San Jose last night, and star-strewn New York tonight.
And that’s not such a shocker, historically speaking; it’s been said so many times that this is MLS Playoff cliché No. 1, but here it is again: More than being about having the best team, MLS playoffs are really about being hot at the right time.
D.C. United certainly is, now 6-0-3 over the last two months. All this, of course, without their best player, Dwayne De Rosario.
Beyond strong and headstrong play from Chris Pontius, Brandon McDonald, DeLeon, Perry Kitchen and a couple of others, the side is thriving on belief and desire – and that’s a powerful marriage when the blend and the timing is stacked just so.
Packaged for take-away
- Of all the shockers in this one, how about this for the night’s top head-scratcher: Awarded a free kick two minutes into stoppage time, from the top of the penalty area, with Henry standing over the ball and the season in the balance — reserve New York left back Roy Miller took the shot. Roy. Miller. That’s just not something that can be explained.
- Kenny Cooper was 10 for 10 in spot kicks in MLS before tonight.
- Best, ongoing battle of the night: DCU striker Lionard Pajoy and Red Bulls center back Markus Holggerson.
- Rafa Marquez? There’s just too much to say for this post. We’ll have more later.
- Willis was United’s starter in goal to begin the season and he very nearly kept the injured Hamid on the bench for an extended run. He’ll be in goal for at least one more while Hamid sits for the mandatory one-game suspension.
- New York outshot the visitors 18-8.
- Geiger was also the man in the middle on another “re-take-gate.” In that one, D.C. United was the offending party, and team president Kevin Payne had some very unkind words for Geiger, who had ordered a penalty kick re-take against his team.
Match highlights are here:
.This video is no longer available. Click here to watch more NBC Sports videos!
Aug 4, 2015, 9:30 AM EDT
Rog, Davo, Mustoe and Earle hang out in the panic room and preview the upcoming PL season.
Aug 4, 2015, 8:37 AM EDT
Eight years after a loan spell, Gradel returns to Bournemouth.
Aug 4, 2015, 7:45 AM EDT
Dutch club reach “agreement in outline” with Bundesliga side Bremen for AJ.
Aug 3, 2015, 9:28 PM EDT
Apparently Louis van Gaal really, really wants Gareth Bale on his team.
Aug 3, 2015, 7:55 PM EDT
Could the USMNT forward be thinking about a move to the Bundesliga?
Aug 3, 2015, 7:05 PM EDT
Bobby Zamora has returned to his old club 12 years after leaving, and Brighton fans couldn’t be more excited.
Aug 3, 2015, 6:20 PM EDT
Gonzalo Higuain won’t be leaving Napoli this summer, but he’s not impressed by the club’s feeble attempt at a contract extension.
Aug 3, 2015, 5:35 PM EDT
A massive blow to Juventus puts them on alert for midfield cover.
Aug 3, 2015, 5:00 PM EDT
Liverpool has spent big for the second straight summer, but it appears the Reds may have learned a valuable lesson.
Aug 3, 2015, 3:48 PM EDT
Rafael’s rocky seven-year tenure with Manchester United is over as he heads to France.
Aug 3, 2015, 3:00 PM EDT
Not a great deal has changed in the world of Premier League goalkeepers this offseason, but among the differences is a huge one: Petr Cech has moved from Chelsea to Arsenal.
Aug 3, 2015, 2:25 PM EDT
PST selects the strongest XI’s for each PL team ahead of the 2015-16 season. Let us know what you think.
Aug 3, 2015, 1:43 PM EDT
Ronaldo is not happy. Not at all.
Aug 3, 2015, 1:00 PM EDT
Forwards both left off Real’s Audi Cup squad after training ground injuries.
Aug 3, 2015, 12:15 PM EDT
All of the latest gossip from around the PL, right here.
Aug 3, 2015, 11:30 AM EDT
Wenger and Mourinho’s feud continues, but should both manager’s bite the bullet and make up?
Aug 3, 2015, 10:42 AM EDT
PSG’s skipper Silva is risking the wrath of United’s fans around the globe.
Aug 3, 2015, 9:40 AM EDT
Real Madrid superstar is a baller on and off the pitch.
Aug 3, 2015, 8:55 AM EDT
Eagles sign young English striker from Black Cats.
Aug 3, 2015, 8:02 AM EDT
Costa remains a huge injury worry for Chelsea heading into the new season.
- AZ Alkmaar agree to sell USMNT forward Aron Johannsson to Werder Bremen 0
- Report: AZ Alkmaar speaking with Werder Bremen about Aron Johannsson 0
- Premier League Goalkeeper preview: Who’s in our Top Five, and who switched clubs? 4
- Best starting lineups for all 20 Premier League teams – Do you agree? 8
- VIDEO: Cristiano Ronaldo storms out of interview: “Doesn’t give a ****” about FIFA 7
- VIDEO: Watch Arsene Wenger snub Jose Mourinho handshake. Who is in the wrong? 5