MLS Match Preview: New York Red Bulls vs. DC United

NEW YORK RED BULLS vs D.C. UNITED
RED BULL ARENA, Harrison, N.J.
March 16, 2013 (WEEK 3, MLS Game #18)
12:30 p.m. ET (NBC, NBCSports.com)

One of the oldest rivalries in all of Major League Soccer gets Rivalry Week off to a tantalizing start, as the New York Red Bulls make their 2013 home debut when they entertain D.C. United at Red Bull Arena on Saturday afternoon. The Red Bulls are still looking for a first win after two games on the West Coast, coming off a 2-1 loss in San Jose last weekend. United recorded their first victory in their home debut last weekend, a 1-0 win against Real Salt Lake. The rivals met in one of the first playoff series in league history, and continued that last year in the East semifinals.

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REFEREE: Mark Geiger. SAR (bench): Sean Hurd; JAR (opposite): Greg Barkey; 4th: Edvin Jurisevic
MLS Career: 105 games; FC/gm: 26.5; Y/gm: 3.6; R: 26; pens: 36

DISABLED LIST: none
SUSPENDED: none
INTERNATIONAL ABSENCES: none

HEAD-TO-HEAD
ALL-TIME (59 meetings): Red Bulls 20 wins (1 shootout), 87 goals Ö United 31 wins (1 shootout), 116 goals Ö Ties 8
AT NEW YORK (28 meetings): Red Bulls 11 wins (0 shootout), 38 goals Ö United 13 wins (0 shootout), 49 goals Ö Ties 4
RETURN MATCHES: 4/13: D.C. United vs. New York Red Bulls, 7 p.m.; 8/31: New York Red Bulls vs. D.C. United, 8 p.m. (NBCSN)

LAST YEAR (MLS):
4/22: DC 4, NY 1 (Pontius 8, 32, 69; DeLeon 36 ñ Henry 72)
6/24: NY 3, DC 2 (Barklage 20, 47+; Solli 55 ñ Pontius 1, 66)
8/29: DC 2, NY 2 (DeLeon 21; De Rosario 68 ñ Lindpere 19; Conde 88)

  • The teams have a rich history against each other, dating back to the leagueís inaugural season, when United defeated the then-MetroStars in the MLS Cup Playoffs. Theyíve met 71 times in all competitions over the years; New York has won 22 and United have won 39, including a 6-1-2 record in the postseason.
  • The teams split their regular season series last year, each winning once at home with a second match at RFK Stadium a draw.
  • The teams met in a wild Eastern Conference Semifinal Series a year ago, featuring two own goals in one game and two postponements due to a hurricane and a snowstorm. United took the series 2-1 on aggregate, winning the second leg 1-0 at Red Bull Arena on a Nick DeLeon goal.
  • Coaches record: Ben Olsen vs. NY: P5 W2 L2 D1 Ö Mike Petke vs. DC: first game

NEW YORK RED BULLS
The New York Red Bulls make their home debut after a second game on the West Coast where they held a first-half lead before falling 2-1 to the San Jose Earthquakes on Sunday evening at Buck Shaw Stadium.

LAST MATCH

  • Once again, New York went up early. Thierry Henryís left-wing cross originally sought Tim Cahill, but after San Jose defender Jason Hernandez put a head to it, the ball floated to the back post, where an unmarked Eric Alexander cantered in and volleyed home from just inside the six-yard box.
  • The Quakes, once again, had some late dramatics to call upon. In the 83rd minute, rookie Adam Jahn scored his first professional goal, getting a reaching boot to Sam Croninís whipped cross at the right-hand post.
  • Then in stoppage time, Jahn won a penalty when he nodded down a San Jose corner kick into the raised left arm of New York defender Roy Miller.
  • From the spot, Quakes striker Chris Wondolowski saw his first attempt was saved by diving New York goalkeeper Luis Robles -ñ but referee Ricardo Salazar spotted Miller entering the penalty area well before the kick and gave the Quakes another opportunity. Wondolowski did not miss again, tucking a well-placed ball inside the right post for the game-winner.
  • Red Bulls head coach Mike Petke made three changes to the team that settled for a 3-3 draw with the Portland Timbers. Brandon Barklage came in at right back in place of Kosuke Kimura, and Eric Alexander and Jonny Steele started in midfield in place of Juninho and Ruben Bover.
  • NEW YORK RED BULLS (4-1-3-2): Luis Robles - Brandon Barklage, Jamison Olave, Heath Pearce, Roy Miller (Armando Moreno 90) - Dax McCarty - Eric Alexander (Kosuke Kimura 87), Tim Cahill, Jonny Steele (Ruben Bover 69) - Fabian Espindola, Thierry Henry.

WATCH: Red Bulls fall to Quakes late

TEAM NEWS

  • The Red Bulls have allowed five goals in their opening two matches, tied for most in MLS after two weeks, along with Chicago and Portland.
  • This is not about Roy Miller, this game the other night,î Red Bulls head coach Mike Petke said. ìIíve watched the game tape already twice. Yes, he was unfortunate to be in certain situations that resulted in goals but itís not about one player and placing blame on their shoulders. Weíre a team from the goalkeeper up to forward and all the guys sitting on the bench and the staff. Weíre a team. We win together and lose together and itís not a clichÈ. Itís absolutely true. Not one player on the way back here was pointing their fingers to Roy or any specific person.
  • Of the Red Bullsí five goals conceded, three have come in the final 15 minutes of matches ñ most in MLS. A year ago, they led the league with 12 goals in the opening 15 minutes, and tied for top with 19 goals in the opening half-hour.
  • We seem to like to sit back when we have the lead. I donít know if itís a natural thing or if itís something this team needs to work on,î said Petke. ìI may have to watch more closely during other MLS games this season. Weíve taken the lead two times on the road, and have given up goals late. Last season it was giving up goals early, now itís late.
  • Eric Alexander came into the starting lineup after a late substitute appearance in the season opener in Portland, and scored his first Red Bulls goal. Alexander had not scored in MLS since 2010, when he scored 2 goals in 17 appearances in his rookie season with FC Dallas.ï    ìItís a different playing style with our firepower up front. It takes pressure off other guys because the focus is on our marquee names. I just like to create my chances by sneaking in through the back post,î Alexander said.
  • Former Brazilian international Juninho Pernambucano did not make the trip to San Jose, held out of the team with a left calf strain. Jonny Steele made his first Red Bulls start in his place.
  • "I always liked the way he played. Heís an aggressive, biting type of player who also has a very good tactical sense, especially in the midfield system that he was with in Salt Lake and somewhat has some similarities with the way we want to press and want to work here,î said Petke.
  • Juninho did return to training during the week, but any decision on his availability is still some time away.
  • No decisions have been made yet, but heís doing better,î Petke said. ìHeís eager to get back and we just want to make sure that he comes along in the correct way. We donít want to rush anything, force anything. I donít want players less than 100 percent, especially for this weekendís game.î

D.C. UNITED
D.C. United made their home debut and came away with a first victory on the season, defeating Real Salt Lake 1-0 on Saturday evening at RFK Stadium.

LAST MATCH

  • The game's only goal came on the hour. Unitedís Chris Pontius sent a corner kick into the box that midfielder John Thorrington settled just outside the area before sending a cheeky chip on goal that forced RSL goalkeeper Nick Rimando to make a leaping, sprawling stop. The rebound bounced right to Lionard Pajoy, who stooped to head it into the open net.
  • United head coach Ben Olsen made two changes to the team that suffered a 2-0 loss to the Houston Dynamo at BBVA Compass Stadium. James Riley came into the back four in place of Daniel Woolard and Marcos Sanchez started in midfield in place of Marcelo Saragosa.
  • D.C. UNITED (4-2-3-1): Bill Hamid - James Riley, Brandon McDonald, Dejan Jakovic, Chris Korb - John Thorrington (Marcelo Saragosa 75), Perry Kitchen - Nick DeLeon, Marcos Sanchez (Kyle Porter 58), Chris Pontius - Lionard Pajoy (Carlos Ruiz 83).

WATCH: D.C. United top RSL in home opener

TEAM NEWS

  • United extended their home undefeated streak to 17 games in league play, dating back to last March 30, the longest home unbeaten streak in the clubís storied history.
  • I think when you sit down at the beginning of the season you say, you know, ëLetís win our home games and get a point on the road and then if you can do that youíre looking at you know top of the East, top of the standings in MLS, so you know itís a big one for us tonight,î said midfielder Chris Pontius. ìReasonably, weíd like to pick up more points on the road.î
  • A year ago, after coming over from Philadelphia where he scored five goals in 20 appearances, Lionard Pajoy netted three times in 12 games for D.C. United. He scored the clubís first goal this season in the RSL win.
  • "He scored a goal tonight,î United coach Ben Olsen said. ìThe one that won the game. So youíre not going to get any knocks on Pajoy right now from me.î Said Chris Pontius: ìI think everyone on this team likes playing with him. Everyone tends to say heís not the greatest finisher, but the work he puts on off the ball is phenomenal for us and thatís what we need going forward.î
  • United did receive an injury blow out of the RSL match when it was announced that midfielder John Thorrington will miss 8-12 weeks with a severe MCL sprain in his left knee.
  • "This type of injury, where itís just a freak thing and I know what Iím dealing with and Iím not dealing with any past issues, will be easier for me to deal with,î Thorrington said. ìItís unfortunate, itís disappointing, but itís easier for me to wrap my head around this one than the thoughts of ënot this again.íî
  • Marcos Sanchez made his first MLS start, playing 58 minutes in the center of the park. He made his MLS debut in Houston, coming on for the final 17 minutes.
  • "I think it was good to get him in this game so he can feel the pace of this game and the physicality of this game and the speed in which he has to play. You can see his technical ability is very good and he understands how to play,î said Olsen. ìBut, itís a physical league and there [are] times when he got caught on the ball that couldíve cost us, but heíll clean it up and as this team moves along he'll understand, that in this league, of what he can get away with and what he canít.î
  • Carlos Ruiz made his United debut, coming on in place of Pajoy for the final seven minutes and putting two shots on target. ìI thought it was nice to see him out there and I thought he did well and you can see what type of influence he has,î Olsen said.