D.C. United's winless streak against rivals New York Red Bulls did not come to an end on Sunday, but a positive result at Red Bull Arena put United in the pole position to finish fourth in the Eastern Conference. Bill Hamid's sensational second-half save helped United earn a 0-0 draw in Harrison, NJ, which helped the Black-and-Red stay ahead of the Red Bulls and Toronto FC in the race to host a playoff game in the first round in October.
The goose egg for the Red Bulls was the fourth consecutive game in which United held their opponents without a goal. That's their best streak this year, and ups Hamid's personal best of shutouts in a season to 13. The Black-and-Red have now gone 414 minutes without allowing a goal, picking up three wins and a draw in that stretch.
Unfortunately for United, they will be without captain Wayne Rooney next weekend at Audi Field against FC Cincinnati. The striker picked up a yellow card in the 77th minute for unsporting behavior, meaning that Rooney will miss his last ever regular-season game at home for United.
Fielding the same lineup for the third consecutive game, United had to scrap through 90 minutes to get the point against the Red Bulls. United did not manage a shot on target throughout the game, but allowed just three shots on goal at the other end while conceding a majority of the possession to the hosts.
On several occasions, Hamid's defenders came up with crucial stops of their own to aid the cause. In the 14th minute, Frederic Brillant did just enough to steer a shot from Marc Rzatkowski wide of the goal, which still hit the side netting.
At the other end, Rooney's free kick from near the sideline was pushed away for a corner by Luis Robles, with the ball likely headed for the top corner of the goal in the 21st minute. Six minutes later, Rooney had a look from a cross by Ulises Segura, but couldn't keep his header on frame.
The second half saw a bit more action, as the hosts pushed forward in hopes of jumping over their rivals in the standings. Tim Parker headed over from a Kemar Lawrence centering pass on a corner in the 57th minute. In the 59th minute, Brillant had to head a Daniel Royer shot off the line just to keep the game scoreless for United.
But Brillant's heroics were upstaged by Hamid shortly after, as the keeper produced a world-class save on Cristian Cásseres Jr in the 61st minute. A corner from Rzatkowski was sent to the near post, where Cásseres arrived to send a half volley on target. There wasn't much time to react, but Hamid floated across goal and got just enough of a touch on the shot to send the ball wide of the frame, to preserve the scoreline.
United didn't create much themselves in the second half, although a knockdown in the box by Brillant allowed Lucas Rodriguez a look at goal in the 76th minute. After his game-winning goal last week against the Seattle Sounders, the Argentine couldn't find the frame, as his shot sailed over the far post.
The visitors were able to dig in late, and prevented the Red Bulls from grabbing a game-winning goal. The result gave New York the Atlantic Cup trophy, the third consecutive year that have claimed the title. But with the point, United are now perfectly poised to potentially host the Red Bulls in the playoffs.
United, with 49 points from 33 games, wrap up the regular season next Sunday when they host FC Cincinnati for the first time at Audi Field.