Red Bulls Endure Scare, Overcome 10-man United

IMAGE, MATT KREMKAU FOR EMPIRE OF SOCCER

By ERIC GIACOMETTI
Staff Writer

HARRISON, NJ — It sure wasn’t pretty, but the Red Bulls will hardly mind.

After failing to capitalize on their man-advantage for the better part of 65 minutes, New York finally broke through and found the winner courtesy of Lloyd Sam’s effort in the dying minutes of a wild affair at Red Bull Arena.

With their precarious position in the Eastern Conference table continuing to hang in the balance, head coach Mike Petke trotted out the same lineup and formation that lead to three points just days early against Sporting Kansas City.

From the opening whistle, New York were on the front foot as they threatened early and often. League-leading goalscorer Bradley Wright-Phillips in particular had a bevy of chances fall his way, only for the Englishman to misfire each time. Failing to score at home for the first time since April 16th, Wright-Phillips succumbed to what the team described as hamstring tightness and was replaced at halftime by Saer Sene.

But the complexion of the match changed entirely in the 35th minute as United forward Fabian Espindola was sent to an early shower. After challenging for a loose ball near midfield, New York midfielder Dax McCarty went down in a heap after taking Espindola’s high cleat to the chest. Much to the chagrin of D.C. head coach Ben Olsen, 2014 World Cup referee Mark Geiger reached straight for the back pocket, leaving the Eastern Conference leading United down a man for the remainder of the match.

While typically considered a heft advantage, New York struggled to break down a United side that bunkered in and invited wave after wave of pressure.

For McCarty, the man advantage proved to be somewhat disadvantageous for New York.

“My personal opinion is that I didn’t want him to get a red card,” the midfielder admitted. “It should’ve been 3, 4-0 at that point. Sometimes in certain games, it’s easier to play 11v11 because the other team has to come at you and try to attack. And when they go down a man, they sit very deep in a block and it’s very hard to break down.”

Petke echoed similar sentiments when asked about the red card.

“When it was 11v11, I feel like we—I know we created chances, we moved the ball well, we were in control,” Petke stated. “I give D.C. a ton of credit. They did what they chad to do and they almost walked out of here with a point.”

And they would have done just that had it not been for Sam’s late-game heroics. Although goalkeeper Bill Hamid had come up with save after stellar save, there was little he could do on the game winner. With numbers piled into the box for both sides, the ball fell kindly to Sam as he took a touch towards net and slid the ball calmly underneath Hamid to save Red Bull blushes on the evening.

“It feels so good to get the goal that gave us the three points at the end of the day,” said Sam. “It’s a great feeling. It’s just like any goal, but this one meant a bit more because we needed that win.”

Now sitting in fourth place in the East, there is little time to enjoy this win for New York as they face a quick turnaround and yet another massive conference clash against the Philadelphia Union.