Written by Chris Snear on November 4, 2012 | 2 Comments »
Posted in Chicago Fire, Columbus Crew, DC United, General, MLS, New England Revolution, New York RB, Philadelphia Union, Sporting Kansas City, Toronto FC
DC United played like all home teams should in the first leg of a total goal conference semi-final series-they attacked the New York Red Bull goal but with balance from the onset, and kept on attacking.
In the end however, their first playoff meeting since 2006 match ended on level terms as each team scored own goals for a 1-1 final.
United started fast and kept their foot on the gas for the entire first half Chris Korb hit a great one timer through traffic from the far corner of the penalty area off a United corner in the 2nd minute that Luis Robles knocked away with a great reaction save at the last second. United had three corners in the first three minutes and were playing at a high tempo forcing New York to purposefully slow the game down very early.
“I thought we had a good balance of going forward and making sure we didn’t get exposed in the back. Again, I thought there was some really good stuff offensively,” said United Coach Ben Olsen. “We created chances. In the first half, we were a little bit rushed at times.”
“I thought we put them in some bad spots, I thought we created chances. The energy was great from us tonight, the defending was pretty spot on,” added United midfielder Chris Pontius.
They were even rewarded with a penalty kick in the 33rd minute but Pontius’ indecisive effort was easily denied by Robles.
“After the PK and as the game went on it got a little back and forth. We wanted to continue with possession. I thought we took too many chances, at times were a bit too anxious in going forward, north to south, rather than east to west because when we went east to west we broke them down and exploited some of their weaknesses. ”
United lost their way in the first ten minutes of the second half with poor, unfocused possession and nearly went down a goal on New York’s best and perhaps only great opportunity of the night when Thierry Henry sprung Joel Lindpere through the left channel but was denied by a sliding Bill Hamid in the 60th minute.
United then got the break they were looking for when Roy Miller knocked a loose ball off a corner kick into his own net for a lucky but probably deserved 1-0 lead in the 61st minute.
They returned the favor four minutes later however when Hamid fell back into his own goal with the ball, bringing the game back to level terms which is it where it finished. Hamid was seemingly bumped by Markus Holgersson just as he started his jump, throwing him slightly off balance, but referee Jair Marrufo did not give the call.
“He knew I was going to jump. I was inside the six (yard box) and he decided to bump me right before my jump. I guess that’s not a foul. I thought it was going to be called. I thought it was going to be a clear call,” said a dejected Hamid. When the keeper comes out for the ball and he gets bumped that’s a foul, but it is what it is. I could have punched it. The smartest decision would have been to punch it once I felt the bump.”
But the match was not without further drama. After committing a tactical foul and drawing a yellow card that he was clearly not happy about, Andy Najar threw the ball with anger, hitting Marrufo, earning his second yellow and subsequent red card in the 71st minute.
“Andy’s a young kid and he made a young mistake,” said Olsen. “I thought Jair let it boil up a bit. He made some tough calls against us, but it’s no excuse to react that way. We’ll adjust – it’s what we have been doing all year.”
Despite what may be considered a bad result for a home team in a series like this, the United locker room, while certainly disappointed was certainly not down and quietly confident about their chances heading up to Red Bull Arena on Wednesday.
“It’s a beatable team. We should have won this game tonight, but 1-1, I’m OK with it. Ultimately, I’m a little disappointed we didn’t win because I thought we played well enough to get a result,” said Olsen. “I like that group of guys in there and I’m looking forward to the opportunity to go up to New York taking on the tough task of winning at Red Bull Arena.”
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