|photo by Matt Kremkau
HARRISON, NJ - Thanks to two highlight-film-worthy goals from Luquinhas and Lewis Morgan, the New York Red Bulls broke their home winless streak, defeating their bitter D.C. United, 3-0 at Red Bull Arena Saturday night.
The last time these storied rivals met, New York defeated D.C. United, 3-0, in the fourth round of the U.S. Open Cup on May 10. Forward Zach Ryan and defender John Tolkin each scored their first career Open Cup goals, and midfielder Luquinhas added a goal and an assist. Luquinhas has tallied three goals and five assists this season across all competitions. And so, for the 85th time in the regular season, two of the league's original ten teams renew their hostilities.
The first half of the match was nothing to speak of as both teams traded chances but with nothing to show for it. But with the Red Bulls playing 11 grueling games in 42 days and the International Break very close at hand, player fatigue may have been a factor, blunting their sharpness, resulting in players dribbling a little too much in the final third, making the match almost unwatchable.
Compared to the breathtaking pace in the U.S. Open Cup match on Wednesday, the first forty-five minutes of this match saw very little of it as the whistle blew, ending a very sleepy first half where both teams had chances, did not register a single shot on goal.
The second half was a different story altogether in the 54th minute; Frankie Amaya maneuvered into the box and ripped a shot that was saved by Bill Hamid. The ball found the feet of Luquinhas off a long rebound, and he immediately shot it into the back of the net, scoring his third goal of the season.
But he was not quite entirely done, as the Brazilian magician doubled the New York advantage four minutes later in spectacular fashion. After a ball was headed out by DC United, he slid and sent in a shot off a volley that curled into the top corner of the net.
Just sixth of the season, blasting the ball from a distance, bringing the fans to their collective feet with a goal worthy of being featured in many sports shows, puts the Red Bulls up by three.
However, D.C United got one back in the 87th minute when defender Jason Pendant over-played the ball, leaving Julian Gressel with space to get the ball over to Ola Kamara. And he did not miss from the right corner of the box, ruining Carlos Coronel's chance for an 0th clean sheet this season.
Red Bulls were able to get an insurance goal with a bit of help from the visitors in the 90th minute when Tom Barlow took a long pass from Caden Clark and dashed down the sideline.
He managed to get off a shot that initially floated high but deflected off the post but was inadvertently put in by United defender Jose Alfaro, trying to clear the ball. Cementing the Red Bulls' sixth win of the season and the first one I'm from of the home supporters.
THE BIG PICTURE:
This was the match if the Red Bulls were looking to end a losing streak in front of your home fans. This one was it, and it fit the bill. An impressive second-half to put away your hated rivals for a well-deserved victory before the international break. Coach Struber stressed the importance of tonight's win, knowing that from here on out, points, especially at home, will be vital as the season wears on:
"I think my boys understand this right now; we have to come in every game on our border; in the end, I think it's tough against us that you can beat us. But first of all, we have to realize what we have to invest in that we can win games, and the league shows us that it's very close, very, very interesting to see how many teams big leverage. Also, to be at the end of the table in the playoffs. And we speak about secure, yes, of course, every point is important, especially at home. It's a must-have that we win games like that."