Washington, D.C. (Sports Network) - It was an eventful, yet ugly affair at RFK
Stadium on Saturday as D.C. United and Red Bull New York opened their Eastern
Conference playoff series with a 1-1 draw.
The match originally was scheduled to be held at Red Bull Arena, but the
residual impact from Hurricane Sandy forced Major League Soccer to switch the
location of the first leg to Washington.
The swap left many United supporters unhappy, claiming that the home field
advantage earned by finishing the regular season in second place had been
Given how Saturday's opening leg played out, New York's de facto home field
advantage has only grown stronger.
Not only will the Red Bulls take an even aggregate score back to Red Bull
Arena for the return match on Wednesday, but D.C. will be without budding star
Andy Najar after the Honduran inexplicably earned himself two yellow cards
mere seconds apart.
The match did start brightly for D.C. as it had a glorious opportunity to take
the lead before the close of the first half. Red Bulls defender Connor Lade
handled the ball in the box in the 32nd minute, but goalkeeper Luis Robles
denied Chris Pontius on the ensuing penalty to keep the home side at bay.
United eventually got in front as Roy Miller inadvertently redirected a cross
into his own goal in the 61st minute.
But D.C. gifted the visiting Red Bulls an equalizer four minutes later. Heath
Pearce headed a corner kick back in front of goal and Bill Hamid fumbled the
ball into his own net as he went to collect, stunning the 17,556 in attendance
New York's advantage became even more evident in the 71st minute when Najar
tripped up Joel Lindpere to deny the Estonian a chance at a quick counter-
attack. The United defender was visibly frustrated as referee Jair Marrufo
reached to his pocket, and Najar hurled the ball in the official's direction.
It is unclear whether Najar intended to hit Marrufo with the ball, but the
referee was left with no choice but to brandish a two yellow cards in quick
The Red Bulls struggled to make anything of the extra man for the remainder of
the match, but the bulk of the damage had been done.
The series shifts to Red Bull Arena level at a goal apiece, New York boasting
home field advantage for extra time (if necessary) and D.C. losing a key
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