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Kaku helps lift New York Red Bulls over D.C. United, 1-0

Aug 26, 2018; Harrison, NJ, USA; DC United forward Wayne Rooney (9) plays the ball against New York Red Bulls midfielder Marc Rzatkowski (90) and New York Red Bulls defender Aaron Long (33) during the first half at Red Bull Arena. Mandatory Credit: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

HARRISON, N.J. — After the disappointment of a draw that felt like a loss Wednesday night against New York City FC at Yankee Stadium, the New York Red Bulls put together a more complete performance against another rival, defeating D.C. United, 1-0, in front of an announced crowd of 22,324 at Red Bull Arena Sunday night.

“We needed to win,” Bradley Wright-Phillips said. “Especially coming back home, against another rival, we needed to win. It was a tough week.”

Kaku broke the stalemate in the 56th minute, settling an attempted headed clearance outside the 18-yard box before taking a touch to his left to avoid Zoltan Stieber and firing low and inside the far post from 22 yards out.

“I’m very happy,” Kaku said through a translator. “I haven’t scored in a while and fortunately I was able to do it today in a derby against D.C. United.”

It was Kaku’s fourth goal of the season and first since scoring in a 4-0 rout of NYCFC on May 5. The Red Bulls are 4-0-0 when the young midfielder scores this season.

“He’s a special player and he tends to show up in big moments,” Wright-Phillips said of Kaku. “I’m a big fan of Kaku. I just hope he carries on and gets better toward the playoffs because when he plays well, we play well.”

Wayne Rooney, who was soundly booed every time he went to take a corner and was the subject of the South Ward’s pregame tifo, had a chance to equalize in the 66th minute. Following a scramble in the box, Rooney got a rare sniff at goal, but his attempt from the edge of the six-yard box glanced off the crossbar and out of play.

Aaron Long largely anchored the defensive effort against Rooney, who had two shots, just one on target before being substituted in the 79th minute.

“When you’re playing against a world-class player like Wayne Rooney, it’s definitely on the to-do list, we have to make sure we know where he is at all times,” said Luis Robles, who made two saves for his ninth clean sheet of the season. “Yet, I feel like for the most part we frustrated him. He got that, maybe it’s a little better than a half-chance when he hit the crossbar, but even that was a broken play. If [Rooney] was being honest, he’d have to say the center backs were very frustrating to play against. They didn’t allow him to play the way he wanted, they suffocated him.”

The Red Bulls (16-6-4) extended an unbeaten run to four straight games with their second 1-0 win over D.C. United (7-10-6) this season, while the Black-and-Red saw their run of five games without defeat come to an end.

It was the Red Bulls’ fourth straight one-goal win and each of the last seven games have been decided by a goal or less.

“These games are great,” Red Bulls coach Chris Armas said. “They are great preparation down the stretch and obviously we have a goal in mind every game and to keep winning and to put ourselves in a spot for a few goals here. These are good tests for us and they feel a lot like the real thing.”

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