TWICE AS NICE
Barklage's brace lifts Red Bulls over United, 3-2, into 1st-place tie
By Michael Lewis
|Brandon Barklage scored twice in the opening half.
Linda Cuttone/Sports Vue Images
HARRISON, N.J. -- Outside of both goalkeepers, the least likely player to score a goal for the Red Bulls on Sunday night probably was defender Brandon Barklage.
After all, the Red Bulls right fullback had not found the net in some 1,044 minutes of action heading into the Major League Soccer match and the first 20 minutes of the Red Bull Arena confrontation.
But the 25-year-old Barklage then struck not once, but twice within a 27-minute span in the opening half to help the Red Bulls to a 3-2 win over D.C. United and into a tie for first place in the Eastern Conference with their rivals before record sellout crowd of 25,187.
Jan Gunnar Solli added a second-half goal for the Red Bulls (9-4-3, 30 points), who have a game in hand over D.C. (9-5-3, 30).
Chris Pontius scored twice for United, his seventh and eighth goals of ths eason.
The game got off to a rousing start when United scored with the game only 33 seconds old.
Pontius, who ripped the Red Bulls for a hat-trick in D.C.'s 4-1 win on April 22, did the dirty work again. Former Red Bulls midfielder Dwayne De Rosario worked himself past left fullback Roy Miller and lofted a cross into the penalty area to Pontius. The United forward headed the ball past goalkeeper Ryan Meara at the near post from two yards out for a 1-0 D.C. advantage.
Speaking of former players doing some damage, ex-United midfielder Brandon Barklage equalized for the hosts with the first goal of his MLS career in the 20th minute.
Midfielder Joel Lindpere sent a corner kick into the penalty area. Barklage bolted past De Ro and volleyed the ball with the outside of his right foot from point-blank range past goalkeeper Bill Hamid for a 1-1 deadlock.
The score did not stay that way at halftime as Barklage incredibly scored his second goal of the night and of his MLS career two minutes into first-half stoppage time.
After the Red Bulls were awarded a free kick outside of the penalty area after defender Robbie Russell fouled Mehdi Ballouchy. Rafa Marquez, playing at central defender instead of his usual place in the midfield, took the ensuing free kick that bounded off the defensive wall. The rebound came to Barklage on the right side and he fired a shot that eluded Hamid for a 2-1 New York halftime lead.
The Red Bulls upped the margin to two goals on Jan Gunnar Solli's first goal of the season in the 55th minute. Lindpere sent a driving cross from the left flank that the Norwegian midfielder placed on net from the right side of the area. Hamid made a spectacular kick save as the ball fell to the left side. Solli swept across the goalmouth to slot the ball home for a 3-1 lead.
United was far from dead as Pontius continued his Red Bulls-killing with a 67th-minute goal. Second-half sub Maicon Santos slotted a nice pass to an onrushing Pontius, who had only Meara to beat from close range.