MLS- New York Red Bulls

Robles shines as Red Bulls escape RFK with first-leg draw

D.C. United had the crowd in their favor, and plenty of possession on the night, but what they couldn’t do is find a way to get a shot past Luis Robles.

The Red Bulls goalkeeper, who only took over the starting job late in the season, made every play he had to. He stoned a dangerous early shot from Chris Korb, and made a clutch save on a Chris Pontius penalty, to help the Red Bulls earn a 1-1 draw vs. D.C. United at RFK Stadium in the first leg of their Eastern Conference semifinal series.

No D.C. player could beat Robles on the night, but second-half Red Bulls substitute Roy Miller did, scoring a perfect volley own goal to give D.C. a second-half lead.

The Red Bulls found an equalizer soon after, and much like the own goal they surrendered, D.C. took turns being generous when Bill Hamid bobbled a Heath Pearce header, falling into his own net with the ball to give the Red Bulls a strange but official equalizer. Hamid appeared to be run into by Red Bulls defender Markus Holgersson on the play, but no call was made.

D.C. United’s night got even stranger when young standout Andy Najar was sent off for consecutive yellow cards after responding to a yellow card by throwing the ball at referee Jair Marrufo. His bad decision left D.C. United down a man, and also rules out the Honduran standout for the second leg at Red Bull Arena.

The Red Bulls defended decently in the first half, with Robles coming  up big repeatedly, and also with Rafa Marquez and Markus Holgersson standing up well, but Marquez left the match at half-time with what was called calf tightness (there were reports of a shouting match at halftime between Marquez and Red Bulls head coach Hans Backe).

Marquez’s exit led to the insertion of Roy Miller, a player notorious for having had awful playoff turns in his first two seasons in the league. He lived up to that reputation with one of the more perfectly-struck own goals you will see.

D.C. couldn’t capitalize on that though, and now head to Red Bull Arena needing to win at a venue where the Red Bulls have only lost once this year.

The night was marked by surprising decisions by Hans Backe, who kept team scoring leader Kenny Cooper on the bench in favor of Sebastien LeToux.

What did you think of the match? Impressed with Robles? Think D.C. United can win at Red Bull Arena?

Share your thoughts below.

  • A

    One thing the USA does well is produce amazing keepers.

    Also, starting to see a real problem with this DC United team without DeRosario on the field. They’ve taken the classic whine and “I’m always a victim” attitude of Ben Olsen. The difference in on-field attitude with and without DeRo is pretty staggering.

    Ben should be yelling at Najar instead of the referee. Najar throws a ball at the referee after being carded for pulling a player down from behind and is ejected and Ben gets upset with the official.

    That’s bad coaching.


    • cb

      I agree with all A stated. Beckham was so villified, but here it’s well he young. It was a professional foul to delay an attack. Not necessarily a card, but still understandable.

      Howard is so underwhelming, but Robles will never get back up on the Nat team after his 2-2 tie to Haiti.

      According to my old German coach the other thing that we excel at is the long-throw-in. And of course if the WC was based on flip throws…


    • Nate Dollars

      i agree with you re: olsen yelling at the ref instead of najar, but “the classic whine and “I’m always a victim” attitude of Ben Olsen”? Must not have watched him play much, and I really don’t see DCU players whining more than any other team.

      When refs make bad calls (uncalled (soft) foul on keeper, uncalled back pass to keeper) usually players get upset.


    • AcidBurn

      Yup. Was waiting for him to either get burnt for the winning goal or get a 2nd yellow and get thrown out. Between him and Miller, a comedy of errors in the fullbacks.


  • AcidBurn

    Ummm…didn’t the Red Bulls get slapped around at home in 2-0 losses to both Sporting KC and the Chicago Fire less than a month ago? “only lost once all year…”


  • jay

    DC got screwed. From the backpass non-call to Lade not being sent off for a handball to Holgersson’s interference on the goal m, it was clear that the ref was not going to be even handed. It may make for a great story but DC was never going to get a fair call.


    • Paul Lorinczi

      The handball was not a red card offense. He was not preventing an obvious goal scoring opportunity. It was a cross.

      The law is pretty clear on when a red card should be issued.


      • ...

        Paul, Lade was carrying a yellow at that point, so I think Jay feels that it should’ve been a second yellow.
        The backpass was definitely a backpass, that was a missed call. Holgersson didn’t really do much on the Hamid own-goal, certainly no foul there.


  • A

    “Red Bull Arena needing to win at a venue where the Red Bulls have only lost once this year.”

    Red Bulls have lost twice at home since September. In fact they’re 1-2-1 at home since their win over Columbus early September.


  • Jake

    Marquez punted the ball into the stands at halftime. Backe got super-pissed. Not sure if it was just that or if that was the last straw. We didn’t see Marquez again in the game, but his sub also scored a goal (on the Red Bulls).
    I’m surprised there isn’t more mention of the ref in this story.
    Not that impressed with Robles. The PK was a horrible shot. The Korb shot was a good one and a good save in traffic. I don’t remember any other good saves.


    • cb

      2nd minute 75th minute check the video, what would you have him do serve hotdogs before that multitude of corners? But I agree could have saved that and kept my bev upright. Who else was the man of the match?
      I’ve been to two Marquez games and I don’t see the luster ever. Granted he did not fire a Agoos-worthy volley into Robles upper V.


  • fischy

    Robles proving United knew what it was doing when they drafted him 5 years ago — though, we might be giving him more credit than he deserves. Pontius’ PK was awful. Robles made a nice stop early on with Korb’s blast, but if Korb had aimed it more to the corner it was a goal. Finally, the stop on Pontius in the scramble following the no-PK call on Pajoy…it wasn’t that special — more just being in the right place. United had Robles beat a few times, but couldn’t find the frame. If htey can get that straightened out by Wed., DC will keep on keeping on. Myabe DeRo might even be available for PKs.


    • Dlewis

      Can’t really discredit that second stop on Pontius. Always impressive for a keeper to rotate over, make himself big, and stop a shot from that close in.


      • cb

        Korb misfired? You go put that half volley on frame that well–giving you 1500 chances.
        Agree, what an awful PK, Robles was probably to stunned to just W that thing.


      • fischy

        I didn’t say he misfired. He hit a bullet. But, if you look at Robles positioning, he would never have have covered a ball that was placed a little more towards the corner. It was a good save, but a more accurately placed shot would have beaten him.


    • Dank

      You can’t just say, “That save wasn’t impressive, he was only in the right place.” How do you think he ended up in that place?


      • fischy

        Because he was moving to cover the same loose ball that Pontius beat him to, before Pontius’ no-look shot right into Robles gut.


  • Charles

    Get the feeling that Seattle and DC didn’t do what they could have and what they needed to do.


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