November 8, 2012
DC dumps Red Bulls; Seattle slips past RSL
DC UNITED 1, NEW YORK RED BULLS 0 (DC advances, 2-1)
|Rookie Nick DeLeon’s first postseason goal lifted DC United over the New York Red Bulls and into the MLS Eastern Conference Finals.
Linda Cuttone/Sports Vue Images
HARRISON, NJ-Back-up goalkeeper Joe Willis came off the bench to stop a penalty kick, and rookie Nick De Leon followed up with a clinical game-winner in the 82nd minute to send DC United through to the MLS Eastern Conference championship series with a 2-1 aggregate-goal win over the New York Red Bulls.
United will travel to Houston for the first leg of the Conference Championship series, which is set for Sundayat BBVA Compass Stadium. Thursday’s win leaves United as the highest-seeded team remaining in the MLS playoff field, meaning that they would host the MLS Cup Final if they take the Conference crown.
DeLeon’s 12-yard strike was the only goal – at least the only one that counted -- of Thursday night’s semifinal match at Red Bull Arena, rescheduled from Wednesday due to a nor-easter snowstorm. The rookie midfielder took a pass from Robbie Russell and beat goalkeeper Luis Robles from 12 yards for the final twist in a game that was anything but business as usual.
Both teams finished with 10 players due to red cards and Red Bulls striker Kenny Cooper had a penalty kick saved in the second half.
After a solid first hour, United goalkeeper Bill Hamid, who carried the ball into the net for the game-tying own goal in the first leg, had his second nightmare moment of the semifinals in the 69th. Hamid tripped Cooper at the top of the penalty area, drawing an immediate red card and point to the penalty spot from referee Mark Geiger.
United coach Ben Olsen was forced to replace midfielder Branko Boskovic with Willis for Cooper's penalty kick attempt. The Red Bulls striker waited for Willis to make his move, took a stutter-step and fired a shot into the lower right corner. However, Geiger ruled that Thierry Henry encroached into the area before Cooper took his shot, and ordered the kick retaken. Willis made the most of the mulligan, guessing correctly and picking off Cooper’s shot as it took the same path as its predecessor.
The Red Bulls' man advantage did not last for long as defender Rafa Marquez was assessed his second yellow card of the match and was given his marching orders in the 75th minute.
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SEATTLE SOUNDERS FC 1, REAL SALT LAKE 0 (Seattle advances 1-0)
SANDY, Utah—Honduran youth international Mario Martinez scored in the 81st minute, and Seattle Sounders FC held on for a 1-0 win over Real Salt Lake Thursday at Rio Tinto Stadium and a 1-0 aggregate goal win in their Western Conference semifinal series.
The Sounders, who entered the postseason seeded third in the MLS West, will face the LA Galaxy for the conference championship and a berth in the MLS Cup final beginning Sunday at the Home Depot Center.
Brad Evans set the scoring play in motion, dribbling through the RSL defense from near midfield, then dishing off to Fredy Montero at the top of the box. Rather than take the shot himself, Montero fed the ball to Martinez, who was free on the left side of the penalty area and one-touched the only goal of the semifinal series past RSL goalkeeper Nick Rimando.
RSL tried desperately to level the score, but got no closer than a 90th-minute header by Alvaro Saborio that goalkeeper Michael Gspurning one-handed over the goal for his ninth save of the game.
Rimando, playing with a broken nose suffered in last Friday’s series opener, came up with a pair of big-time saves to keep the game scoreless into the closing minutes. In the 31st minute, he soared to parry a dipping Martinez free kick off the crossbar, and seconds after the intermission, he dove to get his left hand on a hard 18-yard shot by Evans.