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D.C. United goalkeeper Joe Willis had educated guess on Kenny Cooper’s penalty re-take

Nov 9, 2012, 1:10 PM EDT

DC United v New York Red Bulls - Eastern Conference Semifinals Getty Images

One of the many remarkable elements of a truly remarkable two-game series between New York and D.C. United punctuated the entire swirl of chaos and rancor around New York’s second half penalty kick.

United goalkeeper Bill Hamid took down Kenny Cooper, was shown red and then had to leave the critical PK rejection efforts up to backup Joe Willis. Cooper nailed the first attempt at his spot shot … but a small unit of Red Bulls had crept in prematurely. Referee Mark Geiger correctly ordered the retake and …

Willis did his part in the historic series, guessing and diving to his left to turn away Cooper’s re-kick.

Or, was it such a “guess?” Willis had some inkling what was going to happen. Last year, Cooper had to re-take a spot shot for Portland. He went the other way – and United goalkeeper coach Pat Onstad remembered as much.

We had a similar situation last year [against Cooper]. He went one side, got called back and he went the other side. I was lucky Pat reminded me of that before the game and I was lucky that I made the save.”

Well, lucky, yes. But that also falls under “diligent preparation.” I mean, reminding the backup goalkeeper of a potential situation that was almost certain not to develop? Yes, mark that down as being professional and doggedly thorough.

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