Featured image courtesy of D.C. United // Hannah Wagner
In an eight-goal thriller, D.C. United fell to the New York Red Bulls in what could likely be a pivotal result in the race for playoff contention. D.C. somehow remains unmoved from their ninth-place position in the East, while the Red Bulls move to tenth with this result (with a game in hand as well).
A scoreless draw wouldn’t have been surprising based on each team’s previous few matches, but instead, we were met with goals galore in the opening 45′ as both sides traded blow for blow.
After a back-and-forth start, the Red Bulls opened the scoring in the 17th minute. Cameron Harper delivered a great outside of the boot cross that was met with a clinical volley by Omir Fernandez.
Shortly after, D.C. equalized through a corner from a Christian Benteke header in the 21′.
In the 25′ a handball from Russell Canouse was initially deemed a penalty, but after a VAR check, it was changed to a freekick as the handball occurred outside of the penalty area. The ensuing freekick was hit well by John Tolkin but met with a great save by Alex Bono. Canouse received a yellow for the offense and will miss D.C.’s next match against Vancouver through an accumulation of bookings.
In the 36′ D.C. took the lead when a lofted ball into the box fell into a scramble that saw Benteke poke the ball through the crowd of legs into an empty net for his brace.
In the 44′, the Red Bulls equalized through a penalty after Tolkin was taken down in the box, a very harsh decision. Bono guessed correctly, but Fernandez netted his second of the match with a well-placed shot that beat the diving keeper.
Soon after, D.C. took the lead again in the second minute of stoppage time when Benteke expertly dispatched the penalty that he initially won to bag himself his hat trick.
Following the theme of equalizing quickly, in the fifth minute of first-half stoppage a corner for New York somehow found its way to Harper on the back post for an easy tap in to level the game at 3-3.
A much less eventful half started with some decent spells of possession for D.C., but a forward move by the Red Bulls in the 58′ forced a great save from Bono leading to a corner. A great delivery by Tolkin was nodded home in the six yard box by Sean Nealis to give the Red Bulls their first lead since the start of the match.
New York’s fourth goal was a noticeable blow to United’s morale as heads dropped, and so did the quality of play. Toward the end of the match, the Red Bulls kept the ball well, further frustrating and fatiguing the D.C. United players before finding a fifth goal in the 93′. A well-worked team move reached Tolkin on the left who then held off his defender and slotted the ball past Bono, putting the final nail in the coffin for the Black-and-Red.
- Benteke bags first MLS hat trick: Benteke was pure Benteke tonight, scoring a hat trick consisting of a header, a tap in, and a penalty. But in all seriousness, he was good. Providing a constant outlet for D.C. on the left wing with knockdowns from long balls and doing his job of being in the right place at the right time. Unfortunately, the Belgian’s three goals weren’t enough for D.C. on the day.
- No fight at the finish: After conceding the fourth goal, D.C. United almost looked like they gave up. Heads instantly dropped, and play became sloppy. After going down, two of D.C.’s most creative players, Gabriel Pirani and Ted Ku-DiPietro, were also brought off the field. For a team that fought so hard throughout the first half, it’s confusing why the tone of the side shifted so drastically when going behind by just one goal.
D.C. United: 3 Benteke (21′, 36′, 45′ + 2′ PK)
New York Red Bulls: 5 Fernandez (17′, 44′ PK), Harper 45′ + 5′, Nealis 58′, Tolkin 93′
D.C. United: Alex Bono, Ruan (Andy Najar 68′), Brendan Hines-Ike (Nigel Robertha 88′), Donovan Pines, Eric Davis, Russell Canouse, Chris Durkin (Yamil Asad 68′), Gabriel Pirani (José Fajardo 67′), Mateusz Klich, Ted Ku-DiPietro (Cristian Dájome 68′), Christian Benteke
New York Red Bulls: Carlos Coronel, Andres Reyes, Kyle Duncan, Sean Nealis, John Tolkin, Frankie Amaya (Hassan Ndam 90’+4′), Cameron Harper (Luquinhas 46′), Omir Fernandez (Dylan Nealis 72′), Daniel Edelman (Dru Yearwood 86′), Elias Manoel (Peter Stroud 79′), Tom Barlow
D.C. United: Canouse 25′, Hines-Ike 55′, Benteke 83′
New York Red Bulls: Duncan 64′, Nealis 65′