Must Beat Houston Dynamo by 3 Goals at RFK Stadium on Sunday to Host MLS Cup Match
November 12 -- If the first game of their two game set agaiisnt the N.Y. Red Bulls at RFK Stadium was improbable (a D.C. United red card and two own-goals, one for each squad), the second game, played in New Jersey at the Red Bull Arena, was almost unbelievable. Believe it!
After D.C. United was forced to give up home-field advantage in this two game set because of Hurricane Sandy; after the second game was delayed a day by Winter Storm Athena; after losing its starting goal keeper Bill Hamid to a red card in the 70th minute, bringing in second-year keeper Joe Willis (right) to face a penalty kick and leaving the team short-handed for the remaining twenty minutes; and after apparently falling behind 0-1 on Red Bull striker Kenny Cooper’s PK shot, it looked like curtains.
But just a moment later, when Referee Marc Geiger (with whom D.C. United must now have a love-hate relationship) called N.Y. for encroachment, nullifying the PK, it began a final twenty minutes of action perhaps unlike any playoff game in MLS history. On Cooper’s next PK attempt, Willis dove to his left and punched the ball out of harm’s way. Moments later Red Bulls’ Rafael Marquez wiped out United’s Chris Pontius on an ill-advised slide tackle and left the game with his second yellow card, eliminating the man advantage. And in the 97th minute of this delicious contest, reserve Robbie Russell, filling the slot of suspended Andy Najar, took a perfect switch-field pass from Lionard Pajoy, controlled the fall and flicked it to the foot of rookie midfielder Nick DeLeon (left) who slipped the ball past the Red Bulls’ diving goalie and into the back of the net.
With their win, D.C. United hasa moved on to the Eastern Conference two-game aggregate finals against the fifth-seeded Houston Dynamo who have managed to upset both fourth-seeded Chicago and the number one seed Sporting Kansas City in these playoffs. And because the first-seeded San Jose Earthquakes have been eliminated in the Western Conference semi-finals, should D.C. United prevail against Houston in the Eastern Conference finals, United would host the MLS Cup finals at RFK Stadium. What a treat that would be!
But first things first. D.C. United’s first game against Houston on Sunday night at BBVA Compass Stadium in Houston ended in a 3-1 loss to the playoff tested Dynamo, who have played for the Eastern Conference championshiop in five of the franchise’s seven years of existence. That puts United in a hole, but not one so deep they can’t crawl out of it. The second game will be at RFK Stadium on Sunday, November 18, starting at 4:00 PM. D.C. United must win by three goals, or two goals and a shootout victory, in order to move on. If you aren’t playing in or watching one of the fine BRYC All Star squads in action at the Herndon Tournament, then watching D.C. United vs. Houston Dynamo is the ticket. And speaking of tickets, in appreciation of our strong support for the team this season, follow this D.C. United ticket link using code word "United" for reduced prices for BRYC families.