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DeLeon winner helps D.C. United beat RBNY

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HARRISON, N.J.– As Kenny Cooper went flying in the air, almost hanging there in slow motion, you could almost feel the Eastern Conference semifinal series slipping away from D.C. United. Bill Hamid’s challenge on Cooper resulted in a red card and penalty kick, a deadly combination that looked destined to hand the New York Red Bulls a playoff victory.

That just didn’t sound like the kind of script we’re used to seeing from this series though, and before the end of the night, events transpired to deliver a far more familiar ending.

After back-up D.C. goalkeeper Joe Willis saved a retaken Cooper penalty, and Rafa Marquez drew a second yellow card to even up the teams, D.C. United what they have done for years. They found a way to beat New York in the playoffs.

This time around it was rookie Nick DeLeon adding his name to the history books of this rivalry, finishing off a beautiful Robbie Russell pass in the 89th minute to help D.C. United win the game, and the series, and book their place in the Eastern Conference final.

The victory moves D.C. United into an East final match-up with the Houston Dynamo, with the first leg set for Sunday at BBVA Compass Stadium, and the second leg set for RFK Stadium on Nov. 18th.

The night was a disaster for the Red Bulls, who dominated possession and created a plethora of chances, but Bill Hamid made a handful of outstanding saves to keep the match scoreless.

The Red Bulls looked poised to break through when Cooper raced onto a Dax McCarty pass and ran at Hamid, who came out and appeared to catch Cooper’s leg. Referee Mark Geiger pulled out the red card and pointed to the spot. Cooper converted the penalty, beating Willis, but his hesitation run-up on the attempt led to several Red Bulls players encroaching in the penalty area, which led to the referee waving off the first attempt. Willis saved Cooper’s re-take to give D.C. life.

Then Marquez took his turn as villain once again, earning a pair of yellows on fouls of Chris Pontius to earn his marching orders.

With the match 10 on 10, D.C. United finally broke through in the final minutes of regulation when DeLeon slipped into the center of New York’s defense and ran onto Russell’s through pass before blasting home the winner.

The Red Bulls had one more chance to equalizer in the final moments when they earned a free kick at the top of the penalty arc, but rather than Thierry Henry take the team’s last good chance, Roy Miller stepped up and skied the attempt into the stands. A fitting end to an awful night for the Red Bulls.

The playoff defeat, the Red Bulls’ third straight first-round playoff exit, likely signals the end of Hans Backe’s tenure as head coach. His three-year contract with the team expires in December and with new leadership in the front office, and at Red Bull’s global soccer department, Backe has almost certainly coached his last game in New York.

The night could also be Rafa Marquez’s final one with the Red Bulls. With a year remaining on his contract, and with Mexican clubs expressing interest, the Mexican star seems destined to leave the Red Bulls.

As for D.C. United, their dream run continues and they now find themselves an East final away from hosting the MLS Cup final. They first have to defeat a strong Houston Dynamo side that has found a new gear in the playoffs. That series begins on Sunday.

Here are the highlights from tonight’s match:



  1. Wow Marquez get a lot of hate……

    This player delivers what he’s payed for when on the pitch (of course, when on the pitch)

    The team needs a system. Point blank.

    What are the New York Red Bulls??

    A defense first team that utilizes its solid goalkeeping and talent up top to execute in the 1-0, 2-1 contests??

    A team that keeps the ball on the ground and funnels possession through its solid core of possession-oriented MFs

    A team thats feeds off the emotional energy of players like Mccarty and Henry?

    A playoff tested squad that utilizes the counter along with solid wing play??

  2. The reason Marquez consistently gets sh$t on is because for the entire time he has been with RBNY he’s been mailing it in. No heart, no effort, no class, no durability and not much of a chance to display any skills he might have given he spends half of any given season on the bench. I’ll take Brandon Barklage over him any day of the week.

    Massive fail for all RB DPs last night. If you watch the replay of Cooper’s first PK take, Henry, Cahill and Dax were all encroaching. Toss in Marquez’ red and you have universal DP meltdown.

    You just can’t make mental mistakes of that magnitude and expect to win games, much less championships.

    And what’s with Cooper taking the PK and Roy MIller taking the free kick? Hans Backe’s parting gift to RBNY?

    Geiger got the red on Hamid correct and Hamid, as mentioned, behaved like a child.

  3. The best part is Hamid is probably on this site right now reading these responses because he is such a head case he wants to know what people are saying about him. Ha. Got you dude. I am in your dome right now.

    • Well, if he is: Bill, your potential is limitless, but please try and keep your cool! You can make all the highlight reel saves you want, but in the end what teams (including the USMNT) need are consistent keepers with great poise and leadership.

  4. Hamid responds like a 9 year old when he is called for the foul and gets the red. He actually falls to the ground and it looks like he is going to start crying. Then goes on this crazy tantrum. Dude.. it was a clear foul. Grow up and act like a man. You will never be a great keeper. You are a head case. National team goalkeepers are not head cases. Shut your mouth and play.

  5. Henry should have taken the PK. It’s a moment that needed class.

    Saying that,Henry, again, didn’t use his head by encroaching. Marquez getting red is just another chapter. Two DPs, two mental breakdowns that cost us the game. That’s a tough way to go out.

  6. How has nobody mentioned Bil Hamid’s EPIC meltdown? Wow. I thought he was going to shank the sideline official.

    And then tweeting about it just seconds after he got into the locker room? The fine for that entire act will be legen–wait for it–dary.

    • Bill is awesome. I like his passion.

      FYI He dove for the ball and Cooper ran onto him tripping himself. What is a keeper to do, watch the ball go by him or dive for it? I like Bill and his antics. Glad he is on D.C. It is also for fortunate to have cool as a cucumber Jo Willie to back him up. Best of both world really.

      Go D.C.

  7. Great to beat NY in such an exciting fashion. The red to Hamid was probably deserved and frankly I think Willis is just as good of an option moving forward. That’st he second time Willis has come in after a Hamid red card and blocked a PK this season. Pretty remarkable.

    Assuming Najar doesn’t get suspended, he could move back up to midfield, because Russel looked awesome last night. I didn’t see many mistakes and he moved up well and of course had that killer pass to DeLeon to win the game.

    Then there’s also the whole DeRo returning thing? We’ll see.

    We struggled against Houston at the opening of their new stadium, but both teams are different now. Should be a fun (if not overly defensive) series.

      • Well, the team has been winning, but they certainly haven’t looked that good without him. All the games have been sloppy offensive displays that relied on the defense/keeper to bail them out. DeRo would absolutely provide an offensive spark, not to mention a huge morale boost. He’s also the team’s leader. You see lots of these young guys (Hamid, Najar) making emotional mistakes, and having a respected guy like DeRo on the field could prevent that.

      • good point… i agree on russel too, he seemed hungry and ready, i guess cause he has not played in a while.

    • I feel bad for you NYRB fans. You’ve got arguably the best stadium in the league, and Thierry Henry is your captain, for godsakes, yet the Red Bulls are hemorraging fans. No one really blames you either. Underachievment breeds discontent. Hopefully the new director and coach can put some decent quality on the pitch. You guys deserve it.

    • The game (team) is a perfect example of the absurdity and unfairness of the DP system. Maybe 5 or 10 years ago the DP system made sense. But not anymore. No one can convince me that paying millions to over-the-hill and often unpleasant and/or arrogant DPs is still beneficial for MLS financially or PR-wise. It is a big waste of money and totally unfair to a lot of players working their bu++s off on the field and risking career-ending injuries who make less money per year than probably some of the groundskeepers, secretaries and other lower level front-office employees of the clubs they sweat for.

      • Biff, there is nothing absurd or unfair about the DP system. It’s a brilliant idea, actually. Big names draw big crowds (in theory). Every team is allowed the same number of DPs, so there is nothing unfair about it. Whether or a not a club decides to utilize its allotment has nothing to do with fairness.

        Also, for every “over-the-hill” DP, as you put it, there is a relatively young DP on another team. Look at Fredy Montero, Alvaro Fernandez, Diego Chara, Freddy Adu, and others. There are really only a handful of dudes in their mid-upper 30s (Becks, Di Vaio, Henry, Marquez). And if you don’t think Becks, Henry and Di Vaio earn their paychecks, you’re just cynical.

      • The key words in your post, Gnarls, are “in theory.” In other words, a theory is not a fact until it has been scientifically proven.

        Probably five years ago some of the over-the-hill DPs ending the careers with a big paycheck in MLS actually attracted paying customers to games. In other words, more people in the stands with DPs than without DPs. My theory is, that this is no longer the case. I contend that a New York Bulls would a crowd as big or bigger without Henry or A-h**e Rafa Marquez relaxing on the field during games and turning up their noses at their teammates. And I think the same could be said for other teams. Furthermore, I theorize the ill-will created in clubhouses between highly-paid DPs and the low-paid grunts is not good for the game.

        What I would like to see, is a major study done by experts, either university professor eggheads or by one of the top consulting firms. Actually study the DP concept and outline pros and cons. For example, when DPs are inured and not playing, does that affect attendance levels. I would love to see all DPs given a month’s vacation, say the month of June, and see what happens to attendance. I am almost certain that non DPs would fill the void. Right now, the only way to really defend keeping the DP rule is to say: But we’ve always done that way.

  8. NYRB offseason to do list:

    1. Fire Backe
    2. Get rid of Marquez.
    3. Depth at centerback
    4. get some real fullbacks so we don’t have to see Lade and Miller any more
    5. some speed on the wings (partially addressed by Sam returning and maybe using Lade as a winger instead of a full back)
    6. get people to show up to games
    7. there’s more but I can’t think of it right now

  9. Surprised no one has commented on the called off PK. I personally HATE when MLS refs call off PKs, but what the heck was Henry doing? He was almost parallel with Cooper when the ball was kicked. Such a wasted opportunity.

    • I’d respond by asking what Cooper is doing taking PKs. I have the same issue with that, that most people have with Miller taking the late free kick. Neither of Cooper’s kicks were sharply hit or well-placed, he was relying on fooling the keeper. Why? Let the meal ticket take it.

      But the announcers were suggesting Henry was fooled by Cooper’s hesitation step and was breaking on his run. Maybe they are used to it not being called. But yeah, Henry is running into the box right in front of the ref, who by looking at the spot is well-poised to see the encroachment….and has a history of making the call.

      But to me it’s like I don’t think Cooper’s that skilled a guy and PKs particularly in this situation are a skilled proposition. I don’t understand why one of the more skilled players isn’t taking the kick. You put that together with letting Marquez take the team down and Miller take that kick, and it arguably looks worst upon Backe. Where’s the direction?

      • I agree with all that. I also wondered why Cooper was taking the kick. I was shocked to see that 10 for 10 stat. Anyway, that wasn’t really even the problem. He made his first attempt. It was Henry (and McCarty?) who encroached the sh!t out of it.

        I hardily agree that the blame falls on Backe. I’m sure he’s preparing his resume as we speak.

      • The announcers weer saying that Coopers stutter fooled Henry, but Cooper hesitates like that EVERY TIME. Henry surely had to know this. Addidtionally, Geiger has been known to make the encroachment call. You would have to think Red Bulls staff knew this and warned the players, otherwise thats just poor preparation.

  10. Ives — Is Najar sitting out the next match as well? Seems impossible to let him play with the punishment Shea received earlier this year. And this is coming from a Dynamo fan not concerned with Najar at all, just curious.

  11. Rafa Marquez is a cancer. That is not a novel concept. Henry frequently looks bemused at his teammates; he has no patience for them and otherwise looks disinterested. This goes to show you that a team can pick up great players, but those same players can be the reason for the team’s downfall. And while Henry is still a superb player, I just don’t believe that he brings the squad together.

    Tim Cahill, on the other hand, is a class act. I was particularly impressed with his actions right after Hamid’s red card incident. He is the type of guy you want around young (and all) players. In the last couple of years, NYRB have brought in players that can form the core of a great team. Cahill, McCarty, Pearce, Cooper. I think they should be the focus for this squad going forward.

  12. Must be having flashbacks to the DCU glory days of the late 90’s – could have sworn that was Richie Williams in the right side of the picture behind DeLeon.

  13. Marquez was solid when he wasn’t injured this season. I don’t know if it will be enough to bring him back but he is a very good player when fit and one of the best on the roster for NY. Rafa only has one year left in his contract so he has one last chance to prove he was worth at least some of the money he was paid.

    As much as people want to sh*t on Marquez and pretend like it’s all his fault, the team overall is just mediocre. You can see it on Henry’s face, the frustration of getting no help from the midfield and seeing very little of the ball.

    NY needs to expand their scouting network into central and south america. There are a lot of players they could pick up on the cheap that would tremendously improve the team. If anyone has to go, it’s Backe.

    • I don’t think that anyone doubts Marquez’s talent or his ability. But I think you can’t ignore his judgement and, maybe, his character. From calling out teammates, to delivering predictably disastrous fouls, his tenure with the Red Bulls has been hugely disappointing. I mean, who didn’t think he was going to pick up a second yellow last night? Is he just stupid? Or does he just not want to be on the field? Before the playoff series, one of the announcers (Twellman, I think) brought up Marquez not seeing red as a a key for the Red Bulls,

      These two games were disasters for the Red Bulls DPs. It was a stunning display of waste…

      • There is no doubt that Marquez’ tenure with RB has been dissapointing for a variety of reasons but I don’t understand why everyone is so upset about him calling out Ream last year. The criticism was well deserved and he was right.

        Nobody blinks when Henry sh*ts on his teammates but if Rafa does it becomes a big deal.

        There is a double standard when it comes to Marquez and it is understandable. Rafa never really did enough on or off the pitch to endear himself to the fans but the fans were already against him before he even suited up for the RedBulls.

    • Marquez sounds like locker room cancer, routinely misses games for injury or suspension (something like 15 games this season? not much more the year before….), and in terms of field value you get hit and miss play from a designated player salary.

      Easiest decision in the world. You either release him or do a face saving “loan” back to somewhere in Mexico for the final contract year. Adios, arriba, do not let the door hit you in the butt.

      This is not Henry’s 15 G 12 A fault. This is not Cooper’s 18 G fault. It’s Cahill not exactly taking off; it’s Marquez monopolizing a massive cap chunk for little in return; it’s Miller not doing much. It’s not a bad team because it keeps getting this far. But it’s less than the sum of its parts. One key reason why is they have a lot of money on Marquez and all he delivers is two yellows = red in only the key match in NYRB recent history. DC gets the winner 10 or so minutes later while NYRB plays the “trap,” probably because they’re trying to survive on 10 men.

  14. Initially I was disappointed DC drafted DeLeon over Enzo Martinez, but I will happily eat crow. DeLeon has had an amazing season and I hope he gets called up by Klinsman. I’m not sure who was at fault for the pk. I though at first glance Cooper may have been offsides and I wasn’t initially sure Hamid made any solid contact on Cooper because NBCs coverage of the game was bad. They didn’t show all angles on the replay. Anyways DC decided that wasn’t going to deter them from getting winning this series and that’s what matters the most. United United vamos United!

    • That PK call was so bad. Hamid did let up, Cooper went down on his own, causing the contact. hell he proved it when he took the PK. NBC finally showed a replay that showed it.

      Lousy calls in both games. the back pass not called in the first game, was so laughable.

      US Soccer really needs to work on this, along with everyone in soccer in the USA.

      • Geiger had a good game, which I wouldn’t say about Marrufo in the first game. Did Cooper embellish with his dive? Sure, but Hamid left it there with his dive at Cooper’s legs. Fair call, in my estimation — which would be made by just about every ref in the world. I disagreed with the final foul call that led to Miller’s horrendous free kick attempt — but, then again, I haven’t seen a replay to confirm my impression.

        Marrufo, on the other hand, missed some calls, with the missed back pass call being the most egregious.

      • I agree that Geiger was much better than Marrufo. He missed a couple of calls, but he called the game consistently and did not affect the outcome of the game. Certainly, Hamid’s red card was a big call, particularly after Geiger did not send off Marquez for punching Pontius earlier, but only shown him yellow. By the way, I could hear Hamid told him “Watch the replay” after being sent off, but the refs are not supposed to watch the replays and if the ref believed that Hamid took Cooper down, he could have shown him the red.

  15. NYRB are the MLS equivalent to the NFL’s Redskins fresh after the Dan Snyder purchase – a ton of marquee free agents and rockstars, lost opportunities with youth, absolutely zero chemistry, and inept coaching.

    NYRB front office needs to take the same approach as all the other successful teams (other than Barcelona, the lone exception) and build through the draft and their own youth programs. It is not just about age, it is about TEAM.

    Until this team is allowed to build character and chemistry – something that simply cannot be done by “plugging in a marquee star” – we will see the same results over and over and over.

    • LAG makes the star system work but I think that goes to Bruce Arena. An argument is to be made that Cahill hasn’t shone, and Marquez speaks for himself. So unlike LA their DPs aren’t immaculate. And then NYRB doesn’t have a bad supporting cast, but the defense is a little wobbly and the whole thing just feels a tad off chemistry wise. Which is when you need a MLS career coach who might sort out, I want to keep DeRo, I want to ditch Marquez tomorrow, I need to signor trade for this random MLS veteran CB.

      NY had a decent draft pick in Meara. NY actually has a decent youth program, it’s more a retention issue. Altidore “graduated” and Agudelo was tossed away. So while I agree with the general point that you need to be replenishing players internally and not just signing people — my Dynamo are forever on edge of being too old because of veteran bias — I don’t really see that as the problem. That part is working. The problem is tier of veterans between Henry and Cooper, and the kids you’re bringing in; and also a little bit of the spastic approach to team-building. You look at DC and that is a team that has been steadily built for years. And that’s no so much because they are Team Homegrown like say the awful FCD, but because the team is nicely put together and not rushed.

  16. What an absolutely crazy and entertaining series. And in the end the Curse of the Metros is alive and well!

    Vamos United! Beat Houston!

  17. I think the Red Bulls glaring need for a couple more solid defenseman, speed on the wings with guys who can create, and a new start with a new coach is very evident.

    And, as much as I like Henry and his amazing skills- he really messed up tonight. He ruined Cooper’s goal, and bizarrely let Miller take that free kick… WTH???

    Time to rework the Red Bulls. There are some great pieces, but they haven’t seemed like a real team- more like a collection of guys playing soccer. Not to mention the front office does a horrendous job of getting fans in the seats, but maybe that will come with a real team?

    • If he had any honor he would never put on the kit again.

      He has shamed himself so many times, with the LA incident and now this on top of my list.

  18. What the hell was Henry thinking when he let that clown Miller take that free kick at the end? To me, that summed up the Red Bulls in this series. They really have no one to blame but themselves. Credit to DC for grinding that one out, but man, that was not a well-played series.

    • Henry should have known better.  That Miller rope a dope fail was embarrassing… I hate DC but i find it hard not to tip my hat to Ben Olsen and his squad.  Very impressive season with young players missing their star midfielder.   I will remember this season as a season of great games between our clubs.

      • i actually was rooting for you guys. good job. for our next series may the best team win and move on to the cup.

      • You guys may need to clear space in your trophy case…hopefully should the need ever arise I hope RBNY have the forethought to have a carpenter drill a piece of partical board into a wall something…

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