22,200 fans came to The Cathedral of Football on Saturday night to see what should have been a classic derby match. With the rich history between RBNY and DC United, a 4-0 thrashing by the Bulls at RFK earlier this season, and the midweek 5-0 destruction of Toronto FC, the potential for an entertaining, dynamic 90 minutes was in the air.
But instead of continuing their stampede, the Bulls reverted back to their form from May and June, and fell to United 0-1 on a lone Dwayne DeRosario goal in the 61st minute. United's first goal against New York in 331 minutes of play, DeRo was able to blow past Roy Miller and bury a shot into the left post. The goal sucked the life out of the crowd at Red Bull Arena, and after 30 minutes of failed attempts to pull back an equalizer, the final whistle blew. Both teams combined to only find seven shots on target across the entire match, and with little intensity on the field, fans looking for a high-octane high-scoring classic went home disappointed.
The only standout performance from NY was Tim Ream, who made his usual series of ridiculous blocks, tackles and saves to make up the failings of Greg Sutton and others in the back four. There was little elsewhere in the starting XI to be happy with. With Teemu Tainio out on suspension, Dax McCarty was repeatedly bossed around by DeRo. Joel Lindpere, who had been switched to central attacking midfield, was repeatedly shut down trying to bring the ball into the final third. And both Thierry Henry and Luke Rodgers looked tired and flat, failing to break through a DC defense that, previous to the game, had shown no signs of improving since our visit to RFK.
A few other notes:
- By managing to not lose 0-5, RBNY retain the Atlantic Cup for the second year in a row. Some players recognized this is no cause for celebration, and clearly would've rather had the three points. There was no trophy ceremony after the game.
- The South Ward was loud and raucous but also frequently came off as uncoordinated and disjointed. The supporters groups opted to again use the red/white cards for tifo, and despite emails and messages about how to hold them, it again looked like a mess. Additionally, there are chant coordination issues between the ESC and the Viking Army that are painfully obvious to anyone not sitting in the South Ward.
- While we're on the South Ward, multiple complaints are again coming in that tickets in the supporters' section are again being sold to non-supporters and families who have no interest in standing and singing for 90 minutes. For this to happen during any game is frustrating, but for it to happen during the DC match is maddening.
- Charlie Davies lived up to his reputation for "embellishment" and appeared to crumple whenever there was a slight breeze. Despite an Oscar-worthy performance, he only picked up one free kick for his troubles.
- Despite the potential for a refereeing nightmare under notorious head ref Jair Maruffo, the game was called remarkably well.
The Red Bulls drop to 6-4-10, but still cling to first place in the East on goal differential after Philly drew 0-0 against San Jose. On Tuesday, the team travels to play Chicago at Toyota Park in a US Open Cup quarterfinal match. Hans Backe has already committed to only sending 13 reserve field players out to Bridgeview, so expectations should be kept low. On Saturday, the full team travels to Carson to attempt to extract revenge against Chivas USA for the 3-2 loss in May.