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Late DC strike eliminates Red Bulls

DeLeon puts United into Eastern final after thrilling second half

Image Credit: AFP
Nick DeLeon
Gulf News

New York:A dramatic 88th minute winner from rookie Nick DeLeon gave DC United a 1-0 win over the New York Red Bulls in Major League Soccer’s Eastern Conference semi-finals on Thursday.

A thrilling second half of a clash which was rescheduled after snow on Wednesday saw two red cards and a missed twice-taken penalty by New York striker Kenny Cooper.

DC, who won the tie 2-1 on aggregate after their 1-1 draw at home on Saturday, will now face the Houston Dynamo over two-legs for a place in the title-deciding MLS Cup on December 1.

The game looked to have turned towards New York when Cooper went down in the area, under challenge from DC keeper Bill Hamid, resulting in a penalty and red card for Hamid.

The keeper angrily protested that Cooper had leapt over him but there was another twist as the New York forward converted the spot-kick, but referee Mark Geiger spotted encroachment by two Red Bulls players and ordered the kick retaken.

To the delight of the traveling DCfans, substitute keeper Joe Willis then dived low to save the retaken penalty and keep the scores level.

The teams were both down to 10 men after New York’s Mexican international defender Rafa Marquez was sent off in the 75th minute when a rash challenge earned him a second yellow card.

Extra-time beckoned, but with two minutes of regulation time remaining, DC broke and overlapping full-back Robbie Russell slipped the ball to rookie DeLeon, who coolly converted.