by ANTHONY J. MERCED
HARRISON N.J. – If ever there were a statement game, this was it.
Bradley Wright-Phillips scored two goals as the New York Red Bulls dominated their rivals DC United 3-0, pulling within two points of first place in the Eastern Conference. Lloyd Sam opened the scoring in the first, setting the tone for an impressive Red Bulls performance in front of 22,645 fans in Harrison.
New York dominated from start to finish, with DC only having seemingly momentary spells of possession. The Red Bulls now controls much of its own destiny in the East with three games in hand on DC United.
“Overall it was a very good performance,” said head coach Jesse Marsch after the game. “We set the tone from the very start and we played at a pace that was very fast. Our goal is to try to always make the game fast and see if we can overwhelm teams. I think in many ways we were able to accomplish that.”
The game bore a similar resemblance to New York’s US Open Cup clash against the Philadelphia Union early in the first half. Red Bull enjoyed solid possession and threatened with crosses into the box but couldn’t find the killer strike to go ahead. Bill Hamid stood on his head in front of a jittery DC defense, stopping most shots that came his way or narrowly seeming them pass the goal post.
That changed in the 33rd minute when Wright-Phillips found Lloyd Sam in the box. The Englishman slotted his opportunity past Hamid and put New York ahead 1-0.
The goal didn’t stop the onslaught as New York continued to pepper Hamid — with Sam nearly scoring again in the thirty-sixth minute.
The first of Bradley Wright-Phillips’ two goals came in the forty-second minute when Mike Grella’s cross was put into the top corner of the DC goal to cap off a brilliant team effort. DC limped into the locker room with head coach Ben Olsen fuming on the sideline and searching for answers.
“I feel that we are a very difficult team to play at Red Bull Arena,” said Bradley Wright-Phillips, the team’s leading goal-scorer. “Playing DC it makes it a bigger occasion and I think we showed up today.”
New York continued to dominate possession and chances at goal in the second half. Bill Hamid made an acrobatic save to keep the score reasonable early in the half. However, in the 64th minute, Wright-Phillips once again showed his goal-scoring ability, staying onside on a tight run and beating Bill Hamid with a hard shot. The team’s leading scorer came off in the seventy-fourth minute with a toe injury, but it doesn’t seem like something that will keep him out of action.
New York continues its surge up the standings, now only two points away from DC United in the Eastern Conference and four points from the LA Galaxy for the Supporters’ Shield. Next up for the Red Bulls — another clash with the Chicago Fire. This time the Fire will visit Red Bull Arena one week from Friday.
NY – Lloyd Sam (7) ‘33
NY – Bradley Wright-Phillips (12) ‘42
NY – Bradley Wright-Phillips (13) ‘64
DC- Steve Birnbaum (caution, foul) ‘8
DC – Connor Doyle (caution, foul) ‘65
New York Red Bulls: Luis Robles; Connor Lade, Damien Perrinelle, Kemar Lawrence (Sal Zizzo, 83’), Matt Miazga; Dax McCarty (Gonzalo Veron, 74’), Felipe, Lloyd Sam, Mike Grella, Sacha Kljestan; Bradley Wright-Phillips (Sean Davis, 74’)
DC United: Bill Hamid; Bobby Boswell, Sean Franklin, Steve Birnbaum, Taylor Kemp; Chris Pontius (Conor Doyle, 63’), Markus Halsti (Michael Farfan, 60’), Nick DeLeon, Perry Kitchen; Chris Rolfe, Alvaro Saborio (Jairo Arrieta, 76’)
Referee: Jair Marrufo
Referee’s Assistants: Eric Boria, Felisha Mariscal
4th Official: Juan Guzman