Well that was an absorbing game. When DC finally got the breakthrough goal, having missed that first half penalty, they went straight back on the front foot — maybe thinking this was the moment to press home the advantage and maybe even put the tie out of reach. But one thing you can say about this New York side, is that there's always a goal in them, even when they look like they've had nothing to offer all game. Sure enough they got one...from the opposing goalkeeper, then they got a further gift, as Najar, who'd played his part in tormenting their wide defenders all night, picked up a stupid red card for throwing the ball back at the referee. Whether he meant it or not, it was a petulant reaction and he will be missing on Wednesday night.
It would be a foolish man who tried to call Wednsday's game with any confidence. You'd expect a less cautious New York in that game, but you'd also expect Chris Pontius, dangerous all night here, to pick up where he left off. I hope you'll join me for that one.
For now, good night, and I'll be back to cover tomorrow's semi-finals starting with Houston Dynamo vs Sporting Kansas City at 3.30pm tomorrow.
FINAL SCORE: DC UNITED 1 NEW YORK RED BULLS 1
Final thoughts in a moment.
90 mins +4
Finally New York throw numbers forward with only seconds left. Miller looks to be running to the corner to run down the clock, but suddenly whips in a cross that Cooper tries to chest down and turn on, but he loses control. Finally it's scrambled clear and that will be that.
90 mins +2
New York looking as if they're being very cautious about over-committing, even with the man advantage. No advantage wconferred by away goals in this competition so you can maybe understand it. Four minutes added on by the way.
DC complaining about every non-call right now. An apparent Holgersson back pass to Robles is the latest call they don't get and Olsen and the fans are furious and frustrated.
Miller tricks his way into the box then dives miserably in search of a penalty. nothing doing, thankfully. DC rally for another attack and Lade, who's been much steadier in the second half, does well to poke the ball clear as Pontius chests it down towards goal from a cross to the back post.
DC not being particularly pulled around by all this New york possession as all the passing is at too slow a tempo to stretch them. Nonetheless they're looking tired now.
Suddenly though Pajoy gets turned off Holgersson, steps forward, makes some space against the last man and lashes a shot just over the New York bar. Then we're back to New York's gentle siege.
New York just trying to pass the game down and look for an opening if one should happen to show up. Cooper almost has a chance to turn on goal but his touch lets him down.
Still New York hover outside the DC box. They're not exactly camped there, but they are having a bit of a picnic as they pass the ball around there. DC showing what little intent their numbers allow. Pontius picks the ball up out wide and charges forward, but i bundled off the ball, legally, says the referee. Ben Olsen looks like he's saying something else...
Cooper still waiting to get on as New York keep possession in the DC half. Now it's DC's turn to sit deep.
Finally the ball is played forward and Cahill flicks it up and over the top for Lindpere, but his shot drags across the six yard box - almost handing a last touch to the lurking Le Toux, who now finally comes off for Cooper as the ball goes to touch. DC 1 New York 1
Gaudette is getting warmed up now with Robles looking in some discomfort, though he looks like he will continue. Cooper still not on.
DC force a turnover from Saragosa, who steps forward and hits a right footed drive straight at Robles.
Pearce gets a yellow after wrestling with Pajoy, though Pajoy looked to have thrown an arm out at him in frustration afterwards.
Cooper getting warmed up for Le Toux.
DC send the free kick deep to where Pajoy was waiting in the box. He leans back and into Pearce and goes down looking for the penalty, to a chorus of boos from home fans looking for a penalty. In the aftermath Robles is down injured.
So it's DC 1 New York 1. DC have ten men and Korb will have to come across to play Najar's position, while Neal will have to drop back to compensate for the hole in the DC midfield.
Really don't know what Najar was thinking. New York, of course are now trying to press again with their slow possession build up.
72 mins RED CARD NAJAR
Najar fouls Lindpere and then for reasons best known to himself throws the ball at the referee as he is booked, and duly gets a second yellow immediately and his team are down to ten men!
Neal will go out left and Pontius will come into the center beneath Pajoy.
McCarty makes a rare foray forward down the left, but only manages to give up a throw.
Now Neal has a couple of decent little darts outside the New York box that ends with Neal going down on the 18 yard line, but nothing is given.
New York have another corner and Hamid is relieved when it is spun safely into his arms by Henry. Neal looks like he's about to come on.
Najar does well down the right again and sends a sharp cross in, but New York manage to work it clear. Now Henry and Le Toux get in each other's way on the edge of the box and a New York attack breaks down.
Boskovic off, Neal, the supersub, on.
66 mins GOAL! DC 1 NEW YORK 1 (OWN GOAL HAMID!)
Henry's strike looks good, but the wall deflects it over and now New York have a corner. He sends it deep and it's headed back at the back post by Pearce and Hamid carries the ball over the line for another own goal! We're level!
Buoyed by the goal DC are pouring forward and Lade has to make a last ditch stop in the box. You suspected it was coming, but what can New York do in response? Well, they have a free kick just under 25 yards out and left of the D, after Henry's shot was handled by Saragosa. Henry over it..
GOAL! DC 1 NEW YORK 0 (OWN GOAL, MILLER!)
Forget the 0-0 scoreline it's 1-0. A vicious looking cross is met by Miller under immense pressure from DeLeon and he puts into his own net!
Another chance for New York as Henry cuts the DC defense open to set Lindpere in one on one at an acute angle, but Hamid does well to get down and block the shot. It squirms goalwards but without pace and his defense can mop up. Better from New York but it's still DC 0 New York 0.
DC United are 5-1-1 against New York in playoff history, with the sole New York victory coming in a shootout.
DeLeon and Najar combine again to get a cross in from the right, but it's long again. But they'll keep pressuring Miller on that side, just as Pontius is doing with Lade on the left.
At the other end Henry is wide left with not much on then spins an outswinger low and hard that Cahill almost gets to with a spectacular dive. Just a warning for DC.
New York give the ball away sloppily in an advanced position and DC look to come forward, but New York force them back and now they attack. Lindpere is manhandled in the box by McDonald as he tries to get turned for a shot, but no decision given and DC clear.
Korb down the left now, but his final cross is poor. The game tilting back in DC's favour for the moment. we may have a fascinating half ahead of us.
De Leon just fails to thread the ball wide from the edge of the box.
New York bench now saying Marquez came off with "precautionary calf tightness".
New York getting the best of the early exchanges, without forcing the issue particularly.
Some speculation pitch-side that the continued absence of Marquez from the bench, plus the words he exchanged with his coach going off at half time, might mean there's been a falling out.
Meanwhile on the pitch Pontius turns Lade inside out on the left then switches play over to Najar out wide, but a promising move breaks down.
...Henry with the corner. It's forced clear in headed stages, then Tainio lobs it back in, before Kitchen manages to control the ball enough to clear it a little more smoothly. New York pressing a little early in these early stages. Miller playing slightly more advanced than Pearce did. Perhaps to keep Najar back. DC United 0 New York 0
Henry lopes forward down the left channel and lifts a shot on target but it's straight at Hamid.
Now New York have a throw deep in DC territory and they fashion a corner from it...
We're off again, and DC United kick off. Roy Miller on for Rafa Marquez for New York. Pearce will slide across and Miller go to left back. No word on why.
Don Garber is being interviewed and talking about how the fans "deserve" for the MLS Cup venue to be determined competitively (the highest seeded surviving team, based on regular season finishing position, hosts). He's also talking about the efforts of all the remaining playoff clubs in hosting drives for Sandy relief.
Half time thoughts
When Real Salt Lake got to half time 0-0 against Seattle Sounders last night the impression was of a good job half done, even as they'd had to rely on Rimando's heroics. With New York getting to half time in the away leg, also at 0-0, the impression isn't quite the same.
DC, as expected, were the early aggressors, but the passivity New York showed in the first 15 minutes was alarming as they stood off and allowed DC to come at them. When they did come into the game, they began to knock the ball around and retain possession and briefly pressured the DC goal without ever looking like having a cutting edge.
DC though must have felt that a goal was coming, particularly with the torrid time Lade was enduring from Pontius and the space Najar was creating down the right. The penalty and the miss by Pontius may prove costly, but at the moment you'd have to say DC look like there's a goal in them here, while you can't yet truly say the same for New York.
As it is though, the rule is draw on the road and win at home, and at the moment New York are drawing on the road. The onus is on DC to change that.
HALF TIME: DC 0 NEW YORK 0
Teams walk off, with Le Toux animatedly demonstrating the uses of an elbow to the referee, who looks unimpressed. Le Toux and Saragosa were tussling a minute or so ago.
Half time thoughts in a minute...
45 mins + 1
McCarty up, and we continue for the last minute. New York with a free kick in their own half that Robles is in no hurry to take. It goes long eventually, and the whistle blows.
McCarty down after Boskovic drives a ball straight into the side of his face. Which wasn't very nice. One minute to be added on.
Hamid punching clear again as another floating cross comes in. It's end to end, though Hamid has not had a great deal of work to do other than the jobs he's volunteered for, if that makes sense. He's everywhere in his box.
Henry picks the ball up from distance and shoots, but his feet are under him and the ball flies high and wide.
Henry chips a probing ball through but Hamid charges out to knock it clear, but then there's a great chance at the other end as Lindpere charges forward to cross to the back of the box, where Pontius heads back across goal and Boskovic meets it with a glancing header that's just past the post.
Apparently Dwayne de Rosario has been updated to "doubtful" for the return leg on Wednesday night. He may make the DC bench from what was assumed to be a season ending injury. Or maybe it's another one of those there mind games...
Lade, who sadly is looking short of confidence right now, hesitates and makes a bad pass that's straight across to a DC shirt, but Pajoy can't fashion a chance with DC briefly holding a man advantage. Still DC 0 New York 0
One thing I didn't remark on in the lead up to the penalty was the great diagonal ball to Boskovic that created the chance. McDonald steps froward again now, but this one is not quite as spectacular.
Tainio tries to get in on the act with a long diagonal ball forward for Le Toux, but it goes just over his team mate's head...
New York not in any rush to push back in the wake of that let off. They've settled back into their modest possession game, but they can't hold it for long enough to truly thwart DC. The hosts regain the ball and push forward.
SAVED BY ROBLES!
Wow! Robles goes down low to his right to meet the weak penalty that's hit at a perfect height for him to save. What a let off for New York, and Lade. What a disappointment for Pontius. How will that affect all parties concerned?
32 mins PENALTY!
Long ball from MacDonald is brought down from Boskovic, who cuts inside and flicks the ball up to where Lade handles it. Pontius will take it...
New York looking a little blunt up front with Henry dropping deep and Le Toux not looking comfortable with his back to goal.
Some chaos in the New York box ends with Lade doing well to block a Boskovic shot from a nod down by Pontius. DC beginning to ratchet up the pressure again at the half hour. Still DC 0 New York 0 though.
DC must be thinking that there's joy to be had down the left with Pontius running at Lade, who's now on a card, and perhaps on the steepest part of the learning curve of his debut MLS season right now, as he adjusts to the evening's challenge.
Tainio goes in hard on his man and DC have a free kick in their own half. No card though. Some tasty challenges going in here.
CHANCE! DC have a throw deep in New York territory. Kitchen knocks the ball behind and Pontius whips a perfect cross into the six yard box, which is just forced out with DeLeon threatening to force home. From the corner New York eventually force the ball clear via a Lindpere header and have possession again. Again they slow things down.
New York holding possession a little further up the field now. Still patiently moving the ball back and forward along the line looking for an opening, but not finding one.
DC counter and Pontius goes past Lade at speed, forcing Lade into an unnecessary foul that earns him the first yellow card of the night. He'll have to be careful now.
So with that little wave of New york pressure the game tilts on its axis a little, as DC get a warning about the dangers of over-committing. Had New York continued to stand off them, the home team were only likely to grow in confidence and momentum. Game settling into a little ebb and flow now. Still DC 0 New York 0
Eventually New York work the ball to the edge of the DC penalty area and their movement eventually earns a half chance for Le Toux on the edge of the box, but his smart shot is charged down instantly.
Then New York's best chance of the night as Henry gets underneath a long ball and Hamid and Najar just about scramble the ball clear as he pressures them.
New York pick it up again and all of a sudden they're pushing DC back and looking a little more confident now.
New York move the ball sideways then forward then sideways then back. They're retaining possession, but looking very static for now.
Cahill heads the ball clear, and now Henry is on the ball in free play for the first time, but he gives it away rather cheaply and DC can work the ball forward out of midfield.
Now De Leon slides a lovely ball across the box that's just ahead of Pajoy. New York not closing down in midfield as yet. Muted start for them.
New York have a free kick out wide and half way inside the DC half. Henry over it and he scoops it into the box towards Holgersson. It's headed clear, but then Henry whips a more vicious ball in that Hamid has to punch clear under pressure. Not a chance as such but a first glimpse for New York. They have a corner to defend now though...
Just heard Henry's name for the first time. New York being pinned back early, as DC press high on them. For now New York, going back to their passing round the back, with Marquez constantly looking to slow play down when he can.
A burst of speed now though - but it's from Najar bursting forward to slide a pass through to Pajoy, who's just forced wide. Najar stays forward and gets a headed chance that he can't get on goal. Still DC 0 New York 0
Lade, who has looked utterly unfazed in his rookie year, looks a little nervous early on - couple of loose touches. Now he gets forward for the first time and sends a long cross deep into the DC box, but its headed clear and McCarty following in, can't quite catch his shot cleanly. Goal kick.
Pearce brings down Najar as he goes for the overlap. Free kick on the far touchline level with the corner of the box. Inswinger. Low and straight to Robles, who clutches it to himself first time.
New York content to stroke the ball around the back for a moment to try and settle after that storming DC start.
The corner from Pajoy's save is cleared. Seeing the replay he did really well as the ball bounced in front of him.
Now Pontius gets the better of Lade on the outside, cuts in and tries to shoot. It's deflected wide by Holgersson and DC have another corner. it's cleared but DC are showing a lot of intent early. Now it's Pajoy's turn to put Lade under pressure, but his shot is weak.
Pajoy earns a free kick, central and maybe 35 yards out. Pontius steps over it, backeels to for Boskovic to strike and it deflects for a corner. Marquez heads it clear, then Korb drives a vicious low drive through legs that Robles has to get down to very sharply to deflect wide. First chance early.
And we're off! New York get us under way and loft it long. Worth the wait, I think you'll agree.
Line ups being announced
Having walked out, the players are being introduced at length, which will hardly help them on a cold looking night. Now the anthem is being sung. This time, we are about to kick off...
A brief note on punctuality
I mentioned this during one of our wild-card liveblogs, but start times for game are something of a moveable feast when the networks are involved. So the last couple of paragraphs I typed were meant as a kind of big intro montage, ramping up the energy to fever pitch for the next page refresh, before crashing into a loud and awesome "Peep!" as we kicked off. But it seems we're still waiting for the teams to come out...sigh...oh, hang on, here they are...
..will be key in linking the play to Pajoy in the advanced striker position. That is all.
Ready for kick off shortly...
Grab your snacks, pull your scarves right up tight and put your foam fingers on (I have mine on - hence typos), it's almost game time...
@kidweil Wondering which Red Bulls team will show up at RFK tonight— @mezz98 (@mezz98) November 3, 2012
...the one without Kenny Cooper in it apparently.
I was in Philadelphia last week, and in the locker room afterwards there was no doubting the ambivalence of Backe and Henry's comments about Cooper's overall contribution, despite his goals.
We mentioned it at the time in our regular 5 Things feature.
DC United: Hamid; Najar, McDonald, Jakovic, Korb; DeLeon, Kitchen, Saragosa, Boskovic, Pontius; Pajoy
New York: Robles, Lade, Holgersson, Marquez, Pearce, McCarty, Cahill, Tainio, Lindpere, Henry, Le Toux
Yesterday Hans Backe told the media that Cahill would probably not play owing to injury, which means that we either have ourselves a bona fide mind game right here, or Cahill has decided to play despite how banged up he is. Let’s watch how that develops - there’s a big knock on effect for the rest of the midfield if he comes out. Not least his central partner Tainio, who generally needs someone else to do the running around these days.
Slightly more remarkable is the absence of Cooper - who got his 18th goal last week. Le Toux starts.
With Austin Berry out of the running DC starlet can now make a solo push for the Rookie of the Year. Will he shine in these playoffs? Will Chris Pontius add to his 5 goals against New York this season?
@kidweil Ready to rock here with a full house in Brooklyn. Enjoy the match!— Upper 90 (@u90soccer) November 3, 2012
Team news in a sec...
A day DC United fans don’t want to think about...
A day New York fans don’t want to think about...
New York Red Bulls
For New York Red Bulls, it’s less a case of trying to make up for a hole in personnel as trying to keep all the available personnel in a meaningful shape. Up front Cooper and Henry have combined for 33 goals this season, with Henry having 15 goals and 12 assists. But behind them, everything seems to be in a state of constant flux. Dax McCarty anchored their midfield in the earlier part of the season, and won a lot of people round who’d been unimpressed when he arrived in New York as part of the De Rosario deal last year. With the arrival of Tim Cahill and the slow return from injury of Teemu Tainio, McCarty has found himself being pushed out wide, which one again puts the focus on the defense he had been sweeping up in front of for much of the season (though he may be back in the center tonight, in the possible absence of Cahill). Decent defenders have arrived in Pearce and Conde, and rookies and fringe players such as Lade and Barklage have seized their chance when it has arrived, but from week to week there seems to be no consistency on the defensive line up and as a result New York have tended to leak goals in the opening 20 minutes of games. Against sides like Portland they were able to recover from early 2-0 deficits and win, against sides like Sporting KC, they just lost 2-0. There are rather more Sporting KC’s than Portland Timbers in the playoffs.
That said, the Red Bulls have recently hit a little bit of defensive form with two clean sheets, and last weekend won on the road for the first time since May, just in time for the playoffs. A lot though depends on what New York, and what Henry, shows up for each game.
Back in the playoffs for the first time since 2007, DC United eased into the playoffs as the form team - at least looking at results. Performances during the run in have rather put their fans through the wringer though. They struggled to break down a wretched Toronto team, fell behind to Columbus in a crucial game, then with 2nd place and avoiding a wild-card game on the line, went a goal down to Chicago Fire. These were the sort of games they went on to lose in their collapse down the stretch last year. But this year, they got a scrappy goal against Toronto, came back to win in stoppage time against Columbus and equalized in Chicago - the latter goal sending the Fire to their date with ignominy in the wild-card game.
All of this "finding a way to win" has in part been the result of coach Ben Olsen having his hand forced by the season-ending injury his playmaker Dwayne de Rosario endured at the start of the run-in. For a side whose attacking movement depended on the creativity and directness of DeRo, his loss could have been disastrous, but Olsen retooled the focus of the team on defense, and trusted that some combination of his forward men would get a goal at the other end. It’s made the DC side harder to score against, and keeper Bill Hamid has really come into his own (he made some great stops to keep his team in the game against Chicago last week), though the goals, when they have come, have sometimes been from unexpected sources (Lewis Neal, anyone?). Still, it’s working - and there’s no questioning the spirit of the side Olsen has built.
OK, let’s deal with the big one first. This game was supposed to be New York Red Bulls facing DC United at Red Bull Arena, as the first leg of their Eastern Conference semi-final. The decisive return leg was to have been played at DC’s RFK Stadium on Wednesday.
But then Sandy happened — and with power lines down, PATH trains flooded, blocked and otherwise unusable, and emergency services stretched, it swiftly became clear that the prospects for holding the game at Red Bull Arena tonight, let alone anyone being able (or inclined) to get there was absolutely minimal. So it proved - and the games have been switched, at the agreement of the teams’ senior managers and the league. It means that instead of hosting the first game, the lower-seeded Red Bulls will actually be playing at home in the second leg, with tonight’s game happening at RFK.
Not that Wednesday’s game is guaranteed to be played in New York yet — nobody is putting concrete figures on recovery times for vital infrastructure, as the full magnitude of the damage unfolds. The league offices themselves have been in the dark for much of the week, and everything is very provisional around the return leg. In theory, DC United will have a larger and better seat allocation for their fans to compensate for conceding the home advantage conferred on them by seeding, but that might all be academic - UPDATE: Just as this story was launching New York issued a statement saying Wednesday's game will go ahead at Red Bull Arena.
Anyway, tonight it’s DC United vs New York Red Bulls. And so far this year that has meant goals - fourteen of them in three games between the sides. A 4-1 home win and a Pontius hat trick for DC, Barklage’s brace against his former team in New York’s 3-2 revenge win, then DeRosario’s 100th goal celebrations cut short by Wilman Conde’s thunderous last minute goal to tie the rubber game 2-2. So should we expect goals tonight? Well, not so fast. A lot has changed since those games for both sides, not least the venue for tonight’s game.
I’ll have more on those changes, build up and team news shortly. For now get your tweets coming in to @KidWeil and emails to firstname.lastname@example.org and let’s start you off with some video of the last time these two teams met.