Coming off their best April in more than nine years, the Eastern Conference-leading New York Red Bulls went into Saturday afternoon’s match against winless D.C. United with three points on their mind. By the end of the 90 minutes, the month of May started off equally well for New York as the Red Bulls escaped Washington with a 2-0 win.
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New York have historically struggled in the nation’s capital. The last time the New York franchise had beaten D.C. United on the road was in October 2005. The seven-match stretch includes just two ties between the teams and D.C. had beaten New York by two goals or more four times during the streak.
“We knew the game was going to be tough, being on the road,” midfielder Joel Lindpere told MLSsoccer.com. “But we wanted to come out and get the result.”
Lindpere and Carl Robinson started together in the center of New York's midfield for the second straight game. The combination clicked, with the veteran Robinson holding the deep defensive position to allow Lindpere to roam forward.
Early on, though, the midfield axis didn't help as the Red Bulls looked set for more problems inside the Beltway. Three times in the opening 10 minutes, United nearly opened the scoring. The best chance came in the 16th minute, when a snap header by Clyde Simms off a diagonal ball forced Bouna Coundoul into a splendid point-blank save. New York had few chances in the half as they were clearly outplayed with only a Juan Pablo Angel shot in the 31st minute the only true opportunity for New York.
The second half started similarly, as Coundoul was forced to parry away a Simms volley in the 46th minute.
But against the run of play, the Red Bulls took the lead in the 51st minute through off-season acquisition Salou Ibrahim, who knocked in his second goal on the season. Having the lead spurred New York to take more possession and more chances, with Robinson and Lindpere mustering more control of the midfield.
“We knew we were the stronger team than D.C.,” Lindpere said. “We just came out and played the way we knew we could play.”
D.C.’s insertion of Jaime Moreno, who has scored 24 goals against New York during his 15-year MLS career, made little difference. Minutes after Moreno was subbed in, New York doubled their lead in the 58th minute when Angel glanced a header into the back of the net from a long Lindpere freekick. It was Angel’s fourth goal of the season but just second from the run of play.
“A good goal,” Lindpere declared simply.
With the win, the Red Bulls improve to 5-1, tying their win total from all of last season. More importantly, New York are now 3-0 on the season against Eastern Conference opponents.