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

D.C. UNITED vs NEW YORK RED BULLS
RFK MEMORIAL STADIUM, Washington, D.C.
Aug. 31, 2014 (WEEK 25, MLS Game #239)
2:30 p.m. ET (NBCSN / NBCSports.com)

The battle for the Atlantic Cup sees its second chapter when D.C. United play host to long-time rivals New York Red Bulls on Sunday afternoon at RFK Memorial Stadium before an NBC Sports Network audience. United return home still atop the Eastern Conference, despite a 4-1 defeat at the LA Galaxy at midweek. The Red Bulls are hanging on to fifth place and the final playoff position in the division, their last league match a 4-2 home win against the Montréal Impact.

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REFEREE: Jair Marrufo. AR1 (bench): Claudio Badea; AR2 (opposite): Danny Thornberry; 4th: Jose Carlos Rivero
MLS Career: 170 games; FC/gm: 23.4; Y/gm: 2.9; R: 33; pens: 50

SUSPENDED: none
WARNINGS:
SUSPENDED NEXT YELLOW CARD: DC: Davy Arnaud, Fabian Espindola … NY: Jamison Olave
SUSPENDED AFTER TWO YELLOW CARDS: DC: Lewis Neal, Chris Korb, Perry Kitchen … NY: Thierry Henry, Armando, Tim Cahill, Ibrahim Sekagya
INTERNATIONAL ABSENCES: none

HEAD-TO-HEAD
ALL-TIME (63 meetings): United 32 wins (1 shootout), 118 goals … Red Bulls 22 wins (1 shootout), 91 goals … Ties 9
AT RFK STADIUM (33 meetings): United 19 wins (1 shootout), 68 goals … Red Bulls 10 wins (1 shootout), 51 goals … Ties 4
FUTURE MATCH: 9/10: New York Red Bulls vs. D.C. United, 8 p.m. ET

2014 (MLS):
4/12: DC 1, NY 0 (Arnaud 4)

  • The teams are meeting for the second time this season. Davy Arnaud’s goal after just four minutes proved the difference in a 1-0 United victory April 12 at RFK Stadium.
  • The United win in the first meeting snapped a Red Bulls a five-game undefeated streak in league play between the teams. United’s last previous regular season win vs. New York had come April 22, 2012, a 4-1 triumph at RFK Stadium.
  • Playing for the Atlantic Cup, the teams have a rich history against each other, dating back to the league’s inaugural season, when United defeated the then-MetroStars in the MLS Cup Playoffs. They’ve met 75 times in all competitions over the years; New York has won 24 and United have won 40, including a 6-1-2 record in the postseason.
  • Coaches record: Ben Olsen vs. NY: P9 W3 L4 D2 … Mike Petke vs. DC: P4 W2 L1 D1

LAST MEETING (MLS)

  • The game's lone goal came in just the fourth minute. A Fabian Espindola corner kick found center back Bobby Boswell at the near side of the box, and he played a glancing header to the far post where Davy Arnaud was there to finish, his diving header eluding the grasp of New York 'keeper Luis Robles.
  • United goalkeeper Andrew Dykstra made four saves in recording a second consecutive clean sheet, also saved when the woodwork kept out Peguy Luyindula's first-time blast in the 73rd minute.
  • D.C. UNITED (4-1-3-2): Andrew Dykstra - Sean Franklin, Jeff Parke, Bobby Boswell, Cristian Fernandez - Perry Kitchen - Nick DeLeon, Davy Arnaud (Jared Jeffrey 66), Chris Rolfe (Alex Caskey 72) - Fabian Espindola, Eddie Johnson (Conor Doyle 84)
  • NEW YORK RED BULLS (4-4-2): Luis Robles - Kosuke Kimura, Jamison Olave, Ibrahim Sekagya, Roy Miller (Connor Lade 84) - Lloyd Sam, Dax McCarty, Eric Alexander (Ruben Bover 90), Jonny Steele (Bradley Wright-Phillips 66) - Peguy Luyindula, Thierry Henry.

D.C. UNITED
D.C. United saw their two-game winning run come to a quick end, falling 4-1 to the LA Galaxy on Wednesday evening at StubHub Center. United are still in first place in the Eastern Conference with 43 points from 24 games.

LAST MATCH

  • The Galaxy were ahead by the second minute. As they poured forward on the attack, United defender Taylor Kemp tackled the ball away from Marcelo Sarvas, but it caromed off a teammate and bounced straight to Alan Gordon, who slid into the ball and finished into an open net.
  • The score was 2-0 when Omar Gonzalez scored in the 25th minute, reaching around a United defender to volley home a Landon Donovan corner kick near the penalty spot.
  • The Galaxy netted the third in first-half stoppage time, finishing a brilliant 26-pass sequence. Donovan played a one-two with Gordon just above United’s box, then played the ball to the right for A.J. DeLaGarza, who sent the ball into the goalmouth. Baggio Husidic got in a touch, putting it off goalkeeper Bill Hamid and into the net.
  • United pulled a goal back in the 58th minute. Alex Caskey tracked down a half-cleared cross and sent the ball back into the goalmouth. Eddie Johnson and Galaxy defender Leonardo arrived just as the ball was getting to goalkeeper Jaime Penedo, with the center back getting a touch on the ball to divert it into his own goal.
  • The scoreline was complete with a quarter-hour to play. From a corner kick, Gonzalez got his head to the ball but went down under what referee Kevin Stott adjudged to be a hold from United defender Steven Birnbaum. Donovan converted the penalty kick for his 141st career league goal.
  • United head coach Ben Olsen made four changes to the team that defeated Sporting Kansas City 3-0 at Sporting Park. David Estrada, Lewis Neal and Alex Caskey all came into the midfield for Nick DeLeon, Davy Arnaud and Chris Rolfe, and Eddie Johnson started up top in place of Fabian Espindola.
  • D.C. UNITED (4-4-1-1): Bill Hamid - Sean Franklin, Bobby Boswell, Steve Birnbaum, Taylor Kemp - David Estrada, Perry Kitchen, Lewis Neal (Fabian Espindola 61), Alex Caskey (Nick DeLeon 72) - Luis Silva (Jared Jeffrey 56) - Eddie Johnson.

TEAM NEWS

  • The loss was a third defeat in the last four away matches for United, who are in a stretch of five road games out of six, with trips to Vancouver, New York and Chicago following the Red Bulls match on Sunday at RFK.
  • "If we don’t play up to speed, if we’re not all on the same page, and focused on every play and squeezing every ounce of talent that we have out of our team, we’re not good enough. That’s who we are, we get reminders every now and then,” said United head coach Ben Olsen. “So tonight is a reminder and again that’s me too. But they’re a good team, and they’re very well coached. Sometimes this happens on the road. To come here and get a result against the Galaxy, you need everybody healthy, you need everybody at 100 percent and then you have a chance.”
  • The four goals allowed by United were a season-high, having conceded three goals on three separate occasions.
  • “I think it just comes down to us getting the job done. I can make excuses and say it’s traveling, but we prepare properly; they give us ample time. They put us in a position to have success and we just have to go out and take it. We’ve done it a couple times this year on the road. We’ve gone out and gotten good results,” said Bobby Boswell. “It’s a tale of two games, from Kansas City to here. I think they probably watched that game and maybe they had a little bit of a different game plan, and it seemed to work for them tonight. Like I said, we were great in Kansas City, we were not good tonight. … Obviously we can’t just keep giving up a bunch of goals. That’s the most frustrating thing from a defensive standpoint.”
  • Chris Rolfe did not feature in a league match for the first time since May 24, held out of the Galaxy match with a small knock picked up against Sporting KC.
  • Alex Caskey made just his second start of the season in league play, his first since May 24 vs. New England, coming in on a wide left role.
  • David Estrada made his first start with United since coming to the club from Seattle Sounders FC, after three consecutive substitute appearances.
  • “I think we had too many guys that had a poor night and I had a poor night,” said Olsen. “If you add that up against LA, and you’re down 1-0 in the first couple of minutes, you’re in for a long night. I don’t care who we put on the field, they’re not [4-1] better than us, and there were some poor performances on our part.”
  • Eddie Johnson returned to the lineup after serving a two-match suspension, while Fabian Espíndola came off the substitutes’ bench for the final half-hour after starting the last two games.

NEW YORK RED BULLS
The New York Red Bulls rebounded in fine fashion from their first loss in three matches, rolling to a 4-2 win against the Montréal Impact on Saturday evening at Red Bull Arena. The Red Bulls are in fifth place in the Eastern Conference with 31 points from 24 matches on the season.

LAST MATCH

  • The Impact took the lead after 37 minutes. Dilly Duka latched onto a perfect, defense-splitting ball into space from Calum Mallace and beat goalkeeper Luis Robles low to the near post from inside the box.
  • But the Red Bulls regained control after the break as Thierry Henry scored twice within 14 minutes. First, in the 53rd minute, Henry dove to head a cross from Eric Alexander just inside the post. Henry then put New York ahead in the 67th by firing a perfect shot from the edge of the area that kissed the right post and went in.
  • Henry then turned from scorer to provider, setting up Bradley Wright-Phillips for a strike inside the area to make it 3-1 in the 74th minute.
  • Montreal pulled a goal back in the 79th minute when Andres Romero set off on a stunning individual effort through the Red Bulls defense. But Wright-Phillips put the match away with his second of the night and 20th of the season in the 90th minute, slotting home a pass from Peguy Luyindula.
  • Red Bulls boss Mike Petke made one change to the team that fell 1-0 to the Chicago Fire at Toyota Park. Jamison Olave came back into the side in place of Ambroise Oyongo.
  • NEW YORK RED BULLS (4-3-1-2): Luis Robles - Chris Duvall, Jamison Olave, Ibrahim Sekagya, Roy Miller - Lloyd Sam, Dax McCarty, Eric Alexander (Ambroise Oyongo 60) - Tim Cahill (Peguy Luyindula 67) - Bradley Wright-Phillips, Thierry Henry (Saer Sene 83).

TEAM NEWS

  • The victory ran the Red Bulls’ home undefeated run to five matches, since a 2-1 loss to the Portland Timbers on May 24.
  • “It’s a conference game. We needed to win. We needed to be strong at home. Six games now [left] at home. We have to almost win them all, right now,” said Thierry Henry. “You have to see what is going to happen next until we play those games. There’s not enough to be said at halftime when you’re one-nil down and you played the way you played in the first half. Just have to do better.”
  • Bradley Wright-Phillips scored his 19th and 20th goals of the season against Montréal, becoming the club’s all-time single-season goal-scoring leader. It was the fourth two-goal game of the season for Wright-Phillips, who has 19 goals over the last 16 league games.
  • “The thing that goes unnoticed about Bradley are the little things. His positioning, the way he moves, him cleaning up his first touch, which six, seven, eight months ago it was lacking [with] him. He’s scored 20 goals but he’s really cleaned up a lot of his game and he’s really stepped up and become a phenomenal player for us,” said Red Bulls head coach Mike Petke. “As far as Juan Pablo Angel: yes, I played with him. He’s a phenomenal goal scorer. If anybody’s going to beat the record, I think Bradley certainly deserves to. Juan Pablo is a legend for this club and hopefully we have Bradley around for as long as we had Juan Pablo.”
  • Said Thierry Henry: “I think he should’ve have done that after 10 games into the season. He scored two today and missed five. You guys are laughing but it’s true. I told him he’s going to have to make sure that when he has one, it’s a goal because maybe in one game he’s going to have one [chance]. It’s not every day that you’re going have five opportunities or six or seven, and he’s scoring some of them. I’m not having a go. I’m just saying if you look for how you can improve and I keep on telling him, I keep on saying, ‘You should already be on 35-40 goals.’ I’m not even joking.”
  • Thierry Henry scored multiple goals in a game for the seventh time in his MLS career – the second time in as many seasons vs. Montréal – with his brace Saturday. Henry has nine goals in five career matches vs. the Impact. Henry also recorded his 11th assist of the season, moving into a tie atop the league leaders with LA’s Robbie Keane.
  • Jamison Olave returned to the starting lineup, coming into the team in central defense alongside Ibrahim Sekagya.
  • “Ibrahim over our last several games has shown his leadership, his experience, and his ability to read the game. That’s why he’s been back there. He continues to step up to the challenges over the last month, despite his age [and] despite how long he’s been playing,” said Petke. “He’s really invented his game, I guess you could say. I think that he is a big player for us, especially in the back line. His leadership is great back there.”
  • There was also a slightly different look to the Red Bulls midfield, with Tim Cahill playing a much more advanced forward role near the strike pair of Wright-Phillips and Henry.
  • I wanted the outside midfielders to pinch in a lot, Lloyd [Sam] and Eric [Alexander], I felt that when we were at our most dangerous was when we got the ball wide and Lloyd got out wide on his own,” said Petke. “The message at halftime was I want their starting positions to be central but as that ball’s coming around, we need to get the ball wide, whether that be to an overlapping fullback or Lloyd or Eric stepping out wide. That was really the message.”
  • On Tuesday, the Red Bulls got their CONCACAF Champions League campaign started off with a positive result, defeating CD F.A.S. of El Salvador 2-0 at Red Bull Arena. Saer Sene put the Red Bulls in front early, then Lloyd Sam scored the sealer late.
  • Here’s the Red Bulls team: Ryan Meara, Richard Eckersley, Armando, Damien Perrinelle, Roy Miller, Lloyd Sam (Eric Stevenson 74’), Eric Alexander, Peguy Luyindula (Dax McCarty 78’), Ambroise Oyongo, Tim Cahill (Marius Obekop 88’), Saer Sene