Washington, DC (SportsNetwork.com) – D.C. United will try to overcome a 2-0
first-leg deficit at RFK Stadium on Saturday against Red Bull New York in the
second leg of their Eastern Conference semifinal.
United finished the regular season on top of the East and nine points clear of
New York, but the club was thoroughly outplayed by the Red Bulls in the first
leg, with Bradley Wright-Phillips scoring in the 40th minute and Peguy
Luyindula adding a second goal after halftime.
But despite United’s difficult position heading into the return leg, head
coach Ben Olsen feels as though his side has the proper makeup to fight back
and really push New York.
“I do believe in the resiliency of this team,” said Olsen following the first-
leg defeat. “I have no doubt we will make a real push and make this thing very
In order for United to make things interesting, the club will need to find a
way to create more chances in the offensive third, something they struggled to
accomplish last weekend in New York.
Leading scorer Fabian Espindola was held largely in check by a tight New York
defense, but United captain Bobby Boswell is confident his team can turn
“We will not hang our heads after this,” Boswell said. “Teams have come back
from this before, and if any team can do it, it’s this one.”
New York underachieved for large parts of the season, but the team is coming
together at the right time having won five of its last six games, including
the first-leg victory.
Wright-Phillips and Thierry Henry have formed a lethal partnership up top with
the Englishman netting three goals in two playoff games thus far, while Henry
assisted on both of New York’s goals in the first leg and has provided the
helper on three of the four goals that the Red Bulls have scored in this
Despite holding a two-goal lead heading into Saturday’s match, New York head
coach Mike Petke says his team will take the same approach to the contest that
it has all season, although things could change as the match progresses.
“Our game plan is not going to change to start this game,” said Petke. “Our
game plan perhaps could be tweaked depending what goes on, but we are going to
stick with what’s gotten us results over the last month, month-and-a-half,
which is a compact defense, solid, limiting space in the middle and looking to
exploit when we win the ball, looking to go forward.
“That’s who we are as a team.”
Petke knows his side is in a commanding position, but he also doesn’t feel as
though United will be reckless on Saturday, considering New York won 2-0 in
the first leg without a dramatic change in tactics.
“I don’t think D.C. is going to be desperate,” said Petke. “We were not
desperate this last game and we won 2-0. They’re atop of the East, they’re the
favorites. I don’t care what the score was, going into this game they are the
New York has never won a postseason game at RFK Stadium in five tries, while
D.C. won both games at home between the two sides this season, giving Olsen’s
team some hope.