Sunday night Fabian Espindola was not back in DC United’s lineup. It might not have mattered. Playing at home the New York Red Bulls cruised to a 3-0 win and claimed the Atlantic Cup trophy as the winner of the regular season series between the arch rivals.
It was hoped Espindola would make his return from a knee injury, but instead missed a fourth straight game. United does not play until September 12th in Colorado and that should give Espindola the extra time needed to be ready for game action.
Bill Hamid did return from a one-game absence because of a sore knee and he was sorely needed. In the opening 30 minutes Hamid kept the Red Bulls off the board with four saves of close range shots. It was only a matter of time until the Red Bulls broke through and did with goals in the 33rd minute from Lloyd Sam and 42nd minute from Bradley Wright-Phillips.
In the first half United struggled to move the ball out of its defensive third. Sloppy turnovers plagued United and aided the Red Bulls. When United did advance the ball to midfield possession was limited. After 45 minutes the Red Bulls had a 56 to 43 percent advantage in possession and a 15-2 advantage in shots.
Wright-Phillips essentially put the game away with his second goal of the game in the 64th minute. The Red Bulls are now within two points of first place United and have played three fewer games than the Black and Red.
- Forget August. I know the month started with wins over Real Salt Lake and Montreal, but now United is dealing with its first three-game losing streak since the disappointing 2013 season. It might be oversimplifying things, but it is clear United needs Espindola back in the lineup to help with possession.
- Credit the Red Bulls. Sunday’s win over the United is how the Red Bulls have been operating. The 3-2 loss to Chicago last Wednesday doesn’t make much sense when you consider the Red Bulls recent body of work. Excluding the loss to the Fire, the Red Bulls in seven games have six wins and outscored opponents 18-3.
In short teams like the Red Bulls, Toronto, and Columbus seem to be getting it right at the right time. United needs this 12-day break to rediscover the form that elevated the Black and Red to top of the Eastern Conference.
MORE D.C. UNITED: Red Bulls fly past D.C. United, 3-0