Trailing by a goal in the final minute of regulation time, D.C. United scored twice at the end, rallying to defeat the New York Red Bulls 3-2 on goals by Luciano Emilio and Chris Pontius one minute apart on Sunday at Giants Stadium.
Santino Quaranta set up Emilio's tying goal after receiving the ball from Pontius. He lobbed the ball toward the back post, where Emilio tucked the ball past Red Bulls goalkeeper Jon Conway for the dramatic 90th-minute equalizer.
D.C. didn't rest there and went for the win, getting the three points in the opening minute of second-half stoppage time. Miscommunication between Alfredo Pacheco and Conway allowed Thabiso Khumalo to get to the ball and Pontius knocked the winner into the open net.
Until the stunning turn of events at the end of the game, it appeared that Jorge Rojas was going to be the hero of the game. The Venezuelan international came off the bench at halftime to set up a pair of goals in a six-minute span to give the Red Bulls a 2-1 lead after Rodney Wallace put D.C. in front on 21 minutes with his first career MLS goal.
Rojas came on for central defender Andrew Boyens as Red Bulls coach Juan Carlos Osorio switched to three defenders in an attempt to erase a 1-0 deficit.
The Venezuelan international set up Juan Pablo Angel's 68th-minute equalizer, serving a perfect free kick from the right to Angel, who leapt up and sent a powerful downward header past D.C. United goalkeeper Louis Crayton and inside the far post from the edge of the six-yard box. It was Angel's second goal of the year.
Rojas again connected with Angel in the 74th minute, whose header just outside the six-yard box was saved by Crayton. But Dane Richards crashed the net and knocked in the rebound.
Wallace put D.C. in front in the 21st minute. Quaranta latched onto Bryan Namoff's long ball down the right, took a touch into the box and sent a low cross to the back post where an unmarked Wallace tapped the ball in.
D.C. nearly made it 2-0 five minutes later when Pontius flicked the ball on to an open Quaranta, who attempted to chip Conway from the top of the 18-yard box, but his lob went off the top netting.
One of the few saves Crayton had to make in the first half was a dive to his right to save Dominic Oduro's shot in the 36th minute.
D.C. was inches away from adding a second score in first-half stoppage time when Conway was late off his line in an attempt to punch the ball away. The 'keeper crashed to the turf and Wallace found himself staring at an open net, but he was denied a brace by former University of Maryland teammate Jeremy Hall, who made the save on the line.
Osorio made two halftime changes, bringing on Mac Kandji for Oduro and replacing Boyens with Rojas, switching to three defenders.
Kandji nearly set up the equalizer immediately, making a dangerous run into the box and sending a ball toward the far post. Angel dummied, allowing Sinisa Ubiparipovic an open attempt. But his shot was cleared off the line by Namoff.
Tom Soehn made his first change in the 50th minute, bringing on Andrew Jacobson for Ben Olsen.
Four minutes later, a Pontius flick freed Emilio on goal, but Kevin Goldthwaite did a great job tracking back with a possible goal-saving tackle in the box.
Crayton missed a lunging attempt at an Ubiparipovic corner, but Goldthwaite headed the shot wide of the net.
In the 66th minute, Kandji had room to run after a D.C. turnover in midfield, but his shot from an acute angle was saved by Crayton at the near post.
After setting up the two goals midway through the half, Rojas went for goal four minutes from full time, but his attempt from distance was wide to Crayton's left.
Back from a one-game ban for a red card against Real Salt Lake, Hall returned to the New York starting lineup. He started at right fullback, replacing Carlos Johnson, who was sent off in the second minute of Thursday's 1-0 loss at Kansas City.
Luke Sassano and Ubiparipovic, who both came off the substitute's bench against the Wizards, replaced Seth Stammler (sore knee) and Rojas in the center of midfield, while Khano Smith and Richards returned to the starting XI after a one-game hiatus.
Boyens started in place of Carlos Mendes (shoulder) in central defense and Dominic Oduro replaced Kandji up front.
Soehn made two chances to the squad that rallied to forge a 1-1 draw with the New England Revolution on April 17. Christian Gomez (hamstring) and Jaime Moreno (heel) were out and were replaced by Fred and Quaranta in the starting XI.
The Red Bulls head west for a Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup match against the San Jose Earthquakes on Wednesday before facing the Los Angeles Galaxy at The Home Depot Center Saturday night. D.C. plays host to FC Dallas Saturday at RFK Stadium.
D.C. United (2-1-3) vs. New York Red Bulls (1-4-2)
April 26, 2009 -- Giants Stadium
DC -- Rodney Wallace 1 (Santino Quaranta 1, Bryan Namoff 2) 21
NY -- Juan Pablo Angel 2 (Jorge Rojas 1) 68
NY -- Dane Richards 1 (unassisted) 74
DC -- Luciano Emilio 4 (Santino Quaranta 2, Chris Pontius 2) 90
DC -- Chris Pontius 2 (Thabiso Khumalo 1, Marc Burch 1) 91+
D.C. United -- Louis Crayton, Bryan Namoff, Dejan Jakovic, Marc Burch, Santino Quaranta, Fred (Brandon Barklage 61), Ben Olsen (Andrew Jacobson 50), Clyde Simms, Rodney Wallace (Thabiso Khumalo 81), Chris Pontius, Luciano Emilio.
Substitutes Not Used: Greg Janicki, Avery John, Milos Kocic, Devon McTavish
New York Red Bulls -- Jon Conway, Jeremy Hall (Juan Pietravallo 84), Andrew Boyens (Jorge Rojas 46), Kevin Goldthwaite, Alfredo Pacheco, Dane Richards, Sinisa Ubiparipovic, Luke Sassano, Khano Smith, Juan Pablo Angel, Dominic Oduro (Macoumba Kandji 46).
Substitutes Not Used: Danleigh Borman, Danny Cepero, Mike Petke, John Wolyniec
DC -- Clyde Simms (caution; Reckless Tackle) 34
DC -- Andrew Jacobson (caution; Dissent) 53
DC -- Rodney Wallace (caution; Handball) 68
NY -- Dane Richards (caution; Reckless Foul) 78
Referee: Steven DePiero
Referee's Assistants: Greg Barkey; Nate Clement
4th official: Mark Geiger
Time of game: 1:52
Weather: Clear -and- 90 degrees
Dylan Butler is a contributor to MLSnet.com.