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11/23 FINAL
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Eastern Conference Championship

Red Bulls tumble against D.C. United

The New York Red Bulls suffered their first defeat of the 2006 season Saturday, and they can thank a New Jersey boy for that.

Alecko Eskandarian, whose father Andranik starred for the Cosmos at Giants Stadium, scored a double there to lift D.C. United to a 4-1 win over the Red Bulls. It was also the first regular season loss ever for Red Bulls coach Mo Johnston, who just two days earlier thought he was being forced out.

Eskandarian capped a dominating opening 45 minutes with his second goal of the year, and second against the Red Bulls. He picked up Freddy Adu's deflected cross and put a low shot past Tony Meola from 14 yards out. The Montvale, N.J., native celebrated in style, grabbing a can of the energy drink from Jamil Walker on the bench, taking a swig and then spitting it out on the artificial turf.

The most dangerous chance the Red Bulls had in the first half came in the 45th minute when Mike Magee, making his first start of the season, took a Youri Djorkaeff cross off his chest but D.C. United goalkeeper Troy Perkins did well to come off his line and challenge the ball before a shot could be taken. Magee dislocated his right pinky finger on the collision.

Things went from bad to worse for the Red Bulls in the 59th minute when Eskandarian made it 2-0 on a great series of quick passes from Brian Carroll and Ben Olsen. Eskandarian blasted the ball over Meola's left shoulder from eight yards out.

In case there was any doubt of the final result, Facundo Erpen put an end to that emphatically with a 40-yard rocket that Meola could only turn and watch fly over his right shoulder. It was the Argentine defender's second goal of the year, and his second against the Bulls.

For the first time this season, the Red Bulls started in a 3-5-2 formation with Djorkaeff moving behind the forward tandem of Edson Buddle and Jean Philippe Peguero. The Haitian international forward, who was acquired in a trade with Colorado less than 24 hours earlier, arrived at Newark International Airport at 12:57 p.m. ET and three hours later was in the starting lineup.

The Red Bulls struggled offensively with the new formation and lineup and rarely tested Perkins, who was four minutes from his third consecutive clean sheet. Djorkaeff scored his second goal of the year in the 86th minute slotting the ball past Perkins, who came off his line, on a feed from Magee. It was the first goal scored against United in 338 minutes, since the Red Bulls hit for two in the first 18 minutes of the season.

But D.C. came right back and made it 4-1 two minutes later when second-half substitute Walker ran onto a slick pass from Carroll and chipped his first goal of the year past Meola from 10 yards out.

Of the four players listed as questionable on the injury report, only Jeff Parke, who has been the Red Bulls' most consistent defender through three games, was ruled out.

The Red Bulls meet former coach Bob Bradley and Chivas USA next Saturday at The Home Depot Center, while United return home to RFK Stadium where they will face FC Dallas.

Dylan Butler is a contributor to MLSnet.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Soccer or its clubs.


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