HARRISON, N.J. – The New York Red Bulls couldn’t get past D.C. United goalkeeper Bill Hamid and finished with a 0-0 draw Sunday night at Red Bull Arena.
New York was on the front foot more and more as the game wore on, and had to be. The Red Bulls entered Sunday one point behind fourth place D.C. United – the difference between home-field advantage in the opening round of the MLS playoffs – and were unable to make up the difference.
For Kemar Lawrence, the result is not to be lamented, but rather what got the Red Bulls to this point: the five home losses and 22 points dropped from winning positions.
“It’s football, you can’t really get frustrated about [not hosting a playoff game],” Lawrence said. “If we wanted to host games, we should have played better and won more games, so that way we would be in a top seed.
“But, we had an up and down season, and we’re in the place that we’re at right now. So, it’s nothing to get frustrated about, just got to go away and get the points, get the wins, so that we can keep moving on to MLS Cup Final.”
Unable to pick apart the D.C. United defense in the first half, the Red Bulls resorted to nine crosses that were straight-forward for Hamid, a 6-foot-3 keeper notorious for his comfort getting off his line. In the second half, the Red Bulls desperately pushed, causing the defense around Hamid to fold, but the goalkeeper stood firm.
With United on the ropes, in front of a brimming South Ward, an alert Hamid rose to the occasion in the 61st minute, leaping full stretch to punch away a skipped shot from Cristian Casseres Jr. that was curling toward the corner, the Red Bulls’ best shot on goal up to that point in the match.
Sep 29, 2019; Harrison, NJ, USA; D.C. United forward Wayne Rooney (9) looks on during warm up before a game against the New York Red Bulls at Red Bull Arena. Mandatory Credit: Noah K. Murray-USA TODAY Sports
D.C. United needed every bit of Hamid’s awareness, as he shut down multiple clear breakaways. In the 23rd minute, he gathered the ball before Daniel Royer could race onto it, and in the 72nd, he jumped on the ball ahead of an on-rushing Tom Barlow.
Barlow struggled to build on a feel-good finish last Sunday against the Philadelphia Union, as the entire offense was agonizingly out of tune in the final third. He finished the D.C. matchup with only shot.
Royer – an interesting case, as he leads the team in goals with 11, but has only one open play goal since July 14 – lamented what he considered a lack of definitive chances.
“Yeah, [Hamid] did a great job,” Royer said. “But, like I said – I’m going to repeat myself – these were chances where you don’t have to score, you know? Obviously, [Hamid] had incredible saves but, I think we were missing these clear goal scoring opportunities, where we have to score.”
With a seed-shifting goal eluding the Red Bulls, Chris Armas went to his bench, searching for a hero. Bradley Wright-Phillips, Omir Fernandez and Alex Muyl were called upon, but neither could break the deadlock.
The Red Bulls will travel to Montreal next Sunday for Decision Day, where they will require a win plus a D.C. United loss or draw to return to host a playoff game.
“I’m going to phone [FC Cincinnati winger] Derrick [Etienne Jr.] and tell him we need the Haitian Messi,” Wright-Phillips said.