Bradley Wright-Phillips didn’t seem to mind the yellow card that accompanied his goal celebration in the second minute of Wednesday’s match.
The New York Red Bulls striker, who has experienced the rivalry with D.C. United since he moved to MLS from England in 2013, whirled toward the corner flag after he scored. It was Wright-Phillips’ 100th goal for New York. He ripped off his red jersey, sporting his usual No. 99, to reveal a white one with No. 100 on the back in front of the traveling New York support.
As rain fell at Audi Field and a storm pushed back kickoff 1 hour 30 minutes, the Red Bulls spoiled United’s second match at their new stadium with a 1-0 win. New York’s early breakthrough was enough for the visitors, who held on despite a late push from D.C.
“I’m disappointed in the start, I’m disappointed in the first half,” coach Ben Olsen said. “They basically were first to everything for a large portion of that first half and we were on our heels. I think we got spooked a little bit early.”
Wright-Phillips, who is the fastest player in MLS history to reach the 100-goal mark, also has scored seven goals against United, the most in New York history against its I-95 rival. Wright-Phillips beat defenders Steve Birnbaum and Frederic Brillant to a through ball into the box early on and cut back on his right foot, beating United goalkeeper David Ousted on his near post.
“Bradley’s a great goal scorer. He has been here for a few years. He took his chance early,” Wayne Rooney said. “We weren’t switched on early on in the game and we got punished.”
Shortly after, Ousted struggled to get sufficient contact as he attempted to punch a corner kick away from goal. The ball fell to Tim Parker and Ousted threw his hands out to deflect Parker’s ensuing attempt.
New York outshot D.C. 11-2 in the first half and the Red Bulls controlled 58 percent of possession. The quick passing and movement that worked in the second half in the Audi Field-opening win over Vancouver didn’t translate into the first half there Wednesday, just as it didn’t materialize against Atlanta last weekend.
“We didn’t come out fast enough,” Chris Durkin said. “We started to get back into it after the 15 minutes.”
If not for a video review deeming Paul Arriola offside in the 28th minute, United would have drawn level. Instead, Zoltan Stieber’s pass through to Arriola caught the 23-year-old midfielder offside and the effort didn’t count.
Rooney started Saturday against Atlanta, and with three matches in eight days, Olsen opted to keep the English star on his bench until the 57th minute. Soon after, midfielder Chris Durkin chipped a ball over the defense to Rooney, who held off defender Tim Parker. Parker fell, and Rooney toppled too, but referee Armando Villarreal waved off claims for a penalty.
“I didn’t see much but I felt it,” Rooney said. “I thought it was a clear foul. Not sure if it was just outside [the box] or just inside. I haven’t seen it back, but I feel it was a foul, but again, sometimes the decisions are difficult for referees.”
Midfielder Luciano Acosta put Rooney in on goal in the 78th minute, yet a last-ditch tackle from defender Kemar Lawrence kept New York on top.
Then with less than 10 minutes remaining, Yamil Asad had two opportunities but couldn’t convert, the latter a layoff from Rooney. Asad’s shot didn’t trouble goalkeeper Luis Robles.
So D.C.’s late push, which showed promising signs of chemistry between Rooney and his new teammates, couldn’t produce a goal. United were held scoreless for the second time this season as they dropped three points at home.
“Second half, very good stuff,” Olsen said. “Unfortunate not to at least get a point out of it.”
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