Dax McCarty leads Red Bulls to victory at D.C.

IMAGE, MATT KREMKAU FOR EMPIRE OF SOCCER

WASHINGTON, D.C. – In the ever-important first leg of the Eastern Conference Semifinal, it was former DC United captain Dax McCarty who turned the tables in the Red Bulls’ favor.

The now-New York captain sliced home a header off of a Sacha Kljestan dead ball delivery in the 72nd minute of Sunday’s encounter, lifting the Red Bulls past DC United at RFK Stadium in front of over 19k fans.

“I thought it was a hard-fought match and a playoff atmosphere. D.C., I thought, played well, battled hard and made it difficult on us all over the field like we knew they would,” Red Bulls’ boss Jesse Marsch said after the match.

“We know the heart of the team of DC United, we know that they’re going to make you earn every inch at all moments of the game, and that’s what the game was like today. We managed to get one, get a big lead and now set ourselves up to go back home and push the game there.”

Trying to catch the visitors off guard, Ben Olsen and his DC United side went on the attacking foot throughout most of the opening half hour, earning chances at goal but falling short of a finish. Former Red Bull Fabian Espindola created the first true scoring opportunity for DC, whipping a cross from the left and finding Alvaro Saborio in the box. The Costa Rican beat defender Damien Perrinelle to the ball but his header went well above net in the 22nd minute. Five minutes later, a DC corner resulted in a tidy combination play from the home side, with Perry Kitchen nearly latching on a header.

New York earned the best chance of the half thanks to a heads-up play from Bradley Wright-Phillips. A Sam cross from the right put the ball in the box, where Wright-Phillips controlled a botched clearance, taking a quick tip to Mike Grella for a point-blank blast on Bill Hamid who did well to bat away the opportunity.

The Red Bulls took an aggressive stance to open the second, forcing Hamid into a pair of saves within the first 15 minutes — two at the feet of Grella. Kemar Lawrence added to the close calls, firing a blast from and acute angle on the left but nailing the post for his efforts.

The break through came in the 71st minute as Kljestan nailed a perfect dead ball delivery, zipping his cross past the head of Kitchen and onto the diving forehead of Dax McCarty for the game’s lone goal.

“There’s a lot of little set plays that we build in; the little movements to try and unsettle the team or try to keep them guessing,” Marsch said. “It’s always kind of up to Sacha [Kljestan] to be the quarterback of these different moments and decide what play we’re going to use and when. It’s not just that. It’s a great ball in the box, which I thought he served a bunch of great balls all night, and then Dax [McCarty] does enough to gain a little bit of room and finish the goal, so good job from those two.”

New York take a valuable result and goal advantage to Red Bull Arena this Sunday in the second leg against DC. United have not scored in two appearances at Red Bull Arena this season.

Scoring Summary:
NY – Dax McCarty (Sacha Kljestan) 72′
Misconduct Summary:
NY – Matt Miazga (caution, foul) 35′
NY – Ronald Zubar (caution, foul) 69′
DC – Fabian Espindola (caution, unsporting behavior) 75′
DC – Alvaro Saborio (caution, unsporting behavior) 77′
NY – Bradley Wright-Phillips (caution, time wasting) 88′
New York Red Bulls: Luis Robles; Kemar Lawrence, Damien Perrinelle (Ronald Zubar, 51′), Matt Miazga, Sal Zizzo, Dax McCarty ©, Felipe, Mike Grella (Gonzalo Veron, 81′), Sacha Kljestan, Lloyd Sam, Bradley Wright-Phillips
TOTAL SHOTS: 18; SHOTS ON GOAL: 9; FOULS: 11; OFFSIDE: 3; CORNER KICKS: 5; SAVES: 0.
 
D.C. United: Bill Hamid; Sean Franklin (Miguel Aguliar, 84′), Steve Birnbaum, Kofi Opare, Taylor Kemp, Nick DeLeon, Perry Kitchen, Markus Halsti, Chris Rolfe © (Conor Doyle, 65′), Alvaro Savorio, Fabian Espindola
TOTAL SHOTS: 9; SHOTS ON GOAL: 0; FOULS: 24; OFFSIDE: 1; CORNER KICKS: 3; SAVES: 8.
Referee: Fotis Bazakos
Referee’s Assistants: C.J. Morgante, Kevin Klinger
4th Official: Jorge Gonzalez
  • Kljestan had a lot of nice contributions, which is something he’s made a habit of.
    Nice to see Perrinelle on the field at the end of the game; not as nice to see him on crutches :/