It was perhaps the proverbial Freudian slip but Dejan Jakovic’s face and attitude said otherwise about DC United’s 2-2 draw with the New York Red Bulls.
“This is a very tough loss. We started the game a little slow. It seemed like they wanted it more; they were winning all of the second balls, going into tackles (harder), they were kind of beating us up,” said Jakovic.
Two miserable first half goals were followed by two brilliant ones in the second, including Dwayne De Rosario’s 100th of his stellar career in the 68th minute that United (12-9-5, 41 points) hoped would hold up for the win.
But Wilman Conde, a predominantly left footed play, collected a short clearance from Perry Kitchen took a couple of steps toward the middle and hammered a right footed shot from 26-yards out to the upper-90 through and over a sea of players to bring the game to its eventual level terms in the 86th minute.
“We talked all week about teams earning goals against us, not just giving them goals and they earned one there at the end, he hit a bomb,” said United coach Ben Olsen.
But De Rosario’s was perhaps not as purely skillful but equally dramatic.
After Andy Najar and Brandon McDonald worked out of some trouble in the back, Najar pushed the ball forward to Nick DeLeon on the right flank near midfield. After crossing the center line, DeLeon floated a ball toward the top of the box that was met by De Rosario, who nodded it over Bill Gaudette who could not play it for fear of handling the ball.
“I kind of pulled near (post) and then made my run toward the back post to create a little space for myself,” said De Rosario, “A great ball over the top and the ball is in the air and I figured I am either gonna wake up tomorrow and wonder what happened or I’m going to put it in the back of the net.”
De Rosario, 34, is the seventh player in MLS history to score 100 goals and is just one behind Taylor Twellman, for the sixth spot on that list that also includes former DC United legend Jaime Moreno, who is second with 133. Jeff Cunningham holds the record with 134.
“It was a play I was willing to make but I’ve seen a lot of players get the wrong side of it but thankfully I was able to put my head on it and score that goal and get my 100 off my back,” he continued. “It surprised me because I really don’t score with my head but I remember the times I do score they are at the right time.”
Joel Lindpere’s fairly well struck shot from left side of the box but at a relatively sharp angle inexplicably beat Bill Hamid off the near post to make it 1-0 in the 19th minute. DeLeon countered with his fifth goal of the season two-minutes later however, with an even more innocuous spinning shot from just outside the 6-yard box that Bill Gaudette let trickle past his outstretched hands.
DeLeon’s five goals ties the United record for rookies with Santino Quaranta (2001), Freddy Adu (2004) and Najar (2010).
But as is typical, both teams thought they deserved the full three points though New York had nearly a 3:2 advantage in possession but could only muster two less shots on goal than United (12-10) with both getting five on frame.
“They’re second goal was impossible-it was a 60-yard pass with a header at the edge of the box- especially with the way we were playing,” said Red Bull forward Thierry Henry. “We weren’t in any danger, were creating chances, had the ball, crossing a lot, etc. At the end of the day, however, this shows that D.C. are a great team because even though they did not have a good game today they came out and went up 2-1.”
New York overloaded the middle of the park with several different players rotating back to get the ball and United had no answers for it early on and well into the second half. Dax McCarty and Tim Cahill, who was tireless and immensely effective at moving the ball, were constantly switching and Henry often made his way back to collect the ball deep in the midfield.
“The way they play, they don’t really have positions. Cahill and Dax sometimes switched where Cahill played D-mid and Dax was the one looking for the runs in behind and same with Henri, he likes to drift out,” said Jakovic. “They had possession for the most part but we did a good job of keeping them in front of us. They had a lot of the ball but then again a lot of balls were being played back and we were stepping up and pushing our lineup.”
While New York did have the ball for most of the match, that changed significantly around the 65-minute mark as they seemingly got a bit tired and let United take over.
“In the second half I thought we came out and played great and you could tell they got tired and they started to sit back and we started to attack,” said Jakovic.
That being said, De Rosario’s chance was clearly their best of the half.
“In the first half I thought they were probably a little sharper but mostly in possession. We had a lot of looks but they were better throughout the game with the ball but we were dangerous,” said Olsen. “We did enough to win. It’s a tough to take.”
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