DCU defeats Red Bulls, advance to Eastern Conference Championship

DCU defeats Red Bulls, advance to Eastern Conference Championship

D.C. United-Red Bulls highlights

November 8, 2012, 9:45 pm
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In a high intensity deciding match that included a red card on each side, Nick DeLeon finally scored the game’s first goal in the 88th minute to put D.C. United up for good, 1-0.

United will now advance to the Eastern Conference Finals for the first time since 2006. They will have to do so, however, without keeper Bill Hamid, who was sent off the pitch with a red card in the 69th minute after attempting to make a diving save on Red Bulls forward Kenny Cooper.

"He played unbelievable tonight," said Hamid's backup Joe Willis. "He made some unbelievable saves tonight and kept us in it for so long. Thought he was unfortunate to get the red card to be honest."

The red card foul on Hamid, who had already made five brilliant saves, brought Willis onto the pitch to defend against the penalty kick awarded to New York.  Kenny Cooper’s first attempt found the back of the net but was waved off due to encroachment. Cooper sent his second shot to the same location and Willis was able to make the save to preserve the scoreless tie. It was the only save the keeper would need to make on the night.

"What can you say? It's life," said Red Bulls midfielder Tim Cahill of Cooper's missed PK. "I don't even for one instant blame him. He has 18 goals. The keeper gets two bites at the cherry, it's a 50-50 chance and the young kid that comes in saved it."

New York would relinquish their man-advantage just six minutes later when Rafael Marquez received a second yellow card in the match.

Deep into the second half DCU defenseman Robbie Russell sent a beautiful through ball to DeLeon, who was able to slip through the Red Bulls defense and best New York goalkeeper Luis Robles.

"I'm speechless," said DeLeon of his game-winner. "Just to be a part of this group, it's been a great journey. It's not over yet, but it's been a great ride."

Despite outshooting United 18 to 8, including six shots on target to D.C.'s three, the Red Bulls offense was once again unable to notch a goal of their own and was eliminated from the playoffs Thursday night.

D.C. United will now head to Houston to take on the Dynamo Sunday at 4 p.m. Game 2 will take place on DCU’s home turf Saturday, Nov. 18.

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