Drama was not in short supply on Wednesday night at Audi Field in Washington, D.C., as the New York Red Bulls beat D.C. United 2-1 to claim the first leg of the 2019 Atlantic Cup. Both sides finished the game with 10 men, as Wayne Rooney was sent off for violent conduct in the first half, followed by the visitor's Amro Tarek in first-half stoppage time.
Playmaker Kaku gave the Red Bulls the lead in the first half before Rooney was sent off after a video review in the 24th minute. Ola Kamara, handed his first start for the club, scored a spectacular equalizer in the 55th minute. That scoreline didn't stand the test of time, though, as Daniel Royer scored the winner from the penalty spot in the 59th minute.
With the win, the Red Bulls lept past United in the standings, moving into fourth place in the Eastern Conference.
Looking to atone for Saturday's loss at the Vancouver Whitecaps, United fell behind early on Wednesday night, as Kaku put the Red Bulls ahead in the sixth minute. The hosts couldn't clear a cross out of their box, and New York's No. 10 knocked the ball down, and then laced a shot past Bill Hamid for the goal.
Hamid had to make a smart save just three minutes later, as he just tipped a shot from Cristian Casseres Jr. over the bar, as the Red Bulls piled the pressure on United. And then stand-in striker Tom Barlow had the ball in the back of the net in the 17th minute, but his goal was called back for offside.
Rooney then got sent off for the second time this season after a video review in the 24th minute. On a corner kick, Rooney got his arm high and knocked down Casseres, which was not originally spotted by referee Ismail Elfath. The result left United with just 10 men for the final 66 minutes, needing to take something from the game.
United did seem to get a pep in their step after the sending off, and Kamara helped tee up Paul Arriola in the 31st minute for United's first scoring chance of the game. There wasn't much of an angle to shoot for the winger, though, and Luis Robles was able to push the shot away from danger.
It was nearly 2-0 in the 37th minute when Royer kept a chance alive, but the shot from Casseres slammed off the upright and then off Frederic Brillant away from danger. United were able to see out the rest of the half but were handed a huge advantage when Tarek picked up his second yellow card of the half in stoppage time, meaning the entire second half would be played 10 vs 10.
Brillant cleared a ball from Royer off the line in the 50th minute, before Kamara's stunning goal leveled the scoring in the 55th minute. Collecting a pass from Joseph Mora, Kamara stepped around one tackle before lining a shot up near the corner of the box. Robles was at full stretch trying to prevent the goal but could do nothing as the ball curled and dipped over his hand.
Audi Field erupted, but the elation was short-lived, as Elfath pointed to the spot just two minutes later for the Red Bulls. Lucas Rodriguez was judged to have tripped up Michael Murillo in the box, and there was no check for a video review. Royer sent Hamid diving the wrong way, handing the visitors the advantage once again.
Luciano Acosta, who once again started on the bench, was brought in with 18 minutes left, and nearly changed the game in the 76th minute. A long ball from Leonardo Jara was touched along by Arriola, allowing Acosta to latch on with just Robles to beat. But the keeper did just enough to get a touch on the ball, preventing Acosta from having an easy tap-in for an equalizer.
Tim Parker made a timely block on Jara in the 83rd minute, as United ratcheted up the pressure late on. With plenty of second-half stoppages, eight additional minutes were added on at the end of the game. That left time for Quincy Amarikwa to play Rodriguez into the box, but Robles made a game-clinching save, handing United their fourth loss at Audi Field this year.
United are back in action right again this weekend, as they travel north to take on the Philadelphia Union at Talen Energy Stadium.