Preview: New York, DC locked heading into series finale
NEW YORK RED BULLS v D.C. UNITED
Thurs., Nov. 8, Red Bull Arena (7:30 p.m. ET; NBCSN; TSN2; RDS2)
REFEREE: Mark Geiger.
AR1 (bench): C.J. Morgante; AR2 (opposite): Greg Barkey;
4th: Jose Carlos Rivero
NEW YORK RED BULLS -- OUT: DF Brandon Barklage (L plantar fascia injury); GK Ryan Meara (L hip surgery); MF Lloyd Sam (R knee PCL injury); QUESTIONABLE: MF Tim Cahill (L calf injury) ...
D.C. UNITED -- OUT: FW Josh Wolff (lower back disc herniation); QUESTIONABLE: MF Dwayne De Rosario (L knee MCL sprain); PROBABLE: MF Lewis Neal (L calf strain); DF Daniel Woolard (concussion-like symptoms); FW Long Tan (L ankle sprain)
SUSPENDED: DC: Andy Najar (through Nov. 8)
WARNINGS (suspended next yellow card): NY: Connor Lade, Heath Pearce ... DC: Andy Najar
DC 31 wins (1 SO), 116 GF … NY 20 wins (1 SO), 87 goals … Ties 8
2012 HEAD-TO-HEAD: NY 1 win, 6 GF; DC 1 win, 8 GF; 1 tie
AT RED BULL ARENA: 6/24: NY 3, DC 2 (Barklage 20, 47+; Solli 55 – Pontius 1, 66)
MLS CUP PLAYOFFS: NY 1 win, 5 GF … DC 5 wins, 12 GF … 2 ties
NEW YORK RED BULLS
• The first leg marked the first time in postseason history that two own goals were scored in the same MLS Cup Playoffs game.
• "It wasn’t a good game for us,” said Rafa Márquez. “It wasn’t the same level we showed the last few games. We need to change our attitude if we are to live up to our expectations of something bigger.”
• After starting in central defense for a third consecutive game, Márquez was replaced at halftime because of precautionary measures for a calf injury.
• "I don’t want to speculate on what’s going to happen yet. Of course having Rafa back there is huge –- we’re talking about a player that has tremendous world experience, playing at the highest level," said goalkeeper Luis Robles. "So, if he’s back there, we’ll be solid, but if he’s not on the pitch, I know that we have guys that can step up.”
• Kenny Cooper, who came into the playoffs after scoring four goals in the last four matches, all starts, began the game on the substitutes' bench. Sebastien Le Toux partnered Thierry Henry in attack, after making just one start over the final eight league games (that Sept. 22 vs. New England). "On the road, we chose Sebastien because of his pace,” said Backe.
• Making his first postseason start after starting the final four league matches, Robles became the first goalkeeper since 2006 to save a penalty kick in the MLS Cup Playoffs.
• “The first two minutes after the penalty, everyone was talking about the penalty. The ball bounced right before he saved it, blocking his view and he saved it. Bill [Gaudette] before was tremendous for us, now Luis is taking over. We have some great goalkeepers around us,” said Henry.
• Red Bull Arena will be ready for the second leg on Wednesday, with the order of the matches flipped after the effects of Post-Tropical Cyclone Sandy.
• "It’s an advantage, but not as big as it is in Europe, for example. In this league, I think, whoever you play -– some teams have good results at home, but still I think it will be a very even game and it is a small, small advantage, but not a big one,” Backe said.
• None of the players in D.C. United’s starting XI had played in a playoff game with the club and only two had ever competed in the MLS postseason before Saturday (Brandon McDonald and Marcelo Saragosa). But Olsen and his captain, Chris Pontius, insisted that inexperience was not to blame for the draw.
• "Looking at the game, I didn’t think they had many chances at all. "I don’t think inexperience was an issue at all, said United head coach Ben Olsen. "I like that group of guys in there and I’m looking forward to the opportunity to go up to New York taking on the tough task of winning at Red Bull Arena.” Said Chris Pontius: “Did you see any inexperience out there tonight? I thought we played pretty well. The guys are ready. They’re juiced for the game on Wednesday.”
• The last player to miss a penalty kick in the MLS Cup Playoffs? Dwayne De Rosario, for Houston, vs. Chivas USA in 2006.
• “Chris had his best performance in months. That’s a good sign. He missed a PK –- Dwayne De Rosario has missed PKs, too. This happens," said Olsen. "It's not inexperience. Perry Kitchen was great. Marcelo Saragosa dug in like I have never seen him dig in this year."
• After making his first start in five matches in the regular-season finale, Branko Boskovic maintained his place in the first team. “We wanted to get someone a little bit more dynamic up there under Lionard Pajoy," said Olsen. "Lewis [Neal], as usual, came in and did a great job.”
• There will be a forced change for the second leg after right back Andy Najar was sent off with two quick yellows in the 71st minute. “I think the team played bravely after I was sent off. I’m really proud of them," said Najar. "I know whoever steps in there for me the next game I’m sure is going to do a great job.”
• D.C. United have won their last two playoff games at New York, a 2-0 victory in 2004 and a 1-0 victory in 2006. Both of those victories came in the first leg of conference semifinal series, both won by United.
• “I have learned that they are a beatable team. Here or there –- we can beat this team and there is a great opportunity for us to go to New York and try to do that,” said Olsen.