At last, the dam burst.
The New York Red Bulls erupted for four goals at home for the first time in two seasons – including sensational strikes from Luquinhas and Lewis Morgan – to secure their long-awaited first win of 2022 at Red Bull Arena with a 4-1 demolition of Atlantic Cup rivals D.C. United on Saturday night.
Luquinhas finished with his first brace in MLS and Morgan's goal took his team-leading total to six. The hosts added a late own-goal, as created by the hard work of Tom Barlow.
It all amounted to the Red Bulls' first four-goal output at home since a 4-1 win over the then-Montreal Impact on Sept. 27, 2020. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the last time fans saw the Red Bulls score four at home came back in a 4-0 win over Real Salt Lake on June 1, 2019.
"I think we're doing a great job," Barlow said. "We put a show on tonight. And hopefully we can build on that after the [June] international break and come out and bang a couple more goals in."
The Red Bulls' three-goal, nine-minute outburst would be impressive in any context, but especially so after a first half in which neither team mustered so much as a shot on target.
That's only intensified after some well-documented home struggles this year, in which they had earned only four draws and scored only six goals in six previous fixtures. It had been even worse before a 3-3 draw in Week 12 against Chicago Fire FC.
But with little sign of rain clouds amid the drought, it suddenly started pouring nine minutes after halftime.
Morgan saw his effort headed off the line by Steve Birnbaum and Bill Hamid fisted away Frankie Amaya's follow-up attempt. Then Luquinhas reached it to drive a sure-footed finish between the block attempts of two D.C. defenders to give the home side a 54th-minute lead.
Luquinhas soon doubled their advantage with his fourth of the season and likely the best he's scored since his arrival from Polish stalwarts Legia Warsaw. He slid and hit a first-time volley into the top left corner after D.C. midfielder Chris Durkin's headed half-clearance.
"I'm very, very happy with Luquinhas in so many directions. His responsibility and his ownership he takes in every game show us that he's a big win for me, for my team, for the club, to create in a moment when it's so 50/50, with him, different situations and he can create with dribbling in overload moments," Red Bulls head coach Gerhard Struber said of the Designated Player. "He can create with his passing moments, with his intelligent position, special moments what is not protectable and also he surprised me sometimes when he comes towards and he goes forward and how he works against the ball. I think this is not the typical Brazilian player sometimes what I feel."
Not to be outdone, Morgan added a first-time volley of his own in the 63rd minute on the second phase of a corner kick to cap the sensational flourish.
D.C. striker Ola Kamara ruined the hosts' bid for a clean sheet three minutes from full time, but that's about the only thing that went wrong on the night for a Red Bulls team that finally got to celebrate a win with their loyal supporters.
"Good to get a home win here at Red Bull Arena," defender Sean Nealis said. "Fans were waiting for that and yeah, a lot of good momentum heading into the break with the Open Cup win and now first home win."
RBNY sit fourth in the Eastern Conference standings, buoyed by their 5W-1L-1D road record before this festive evening in Harrison, New Jersey.