Red Bulls blank conference rivals in home opener

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Eric Giacometti

Photos by dbjsportphotos@gmail.com

(ISN) – HARRISON, N.J. — For the retooled New York Red Bulls it was two familiar faces that powered the club to its first win of 2015, a 2-0 result over old rivals D.C. United in Sunday’s Red Bull Arena opener.

The league’s leading scorer in 2014, Bradley Wright-Phillips, found the back of the net in the first half for the first time this season and Lloyd Sam got an insurance goal in the second half as the Red Bulls cruised against a DC team that rarely threatened and missed the mark on a stoppage time penalty kick taken by Chris Pontius.

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Photos by dbjsportphotos@gmail.com

Coming off an absorbing 2014 MLS Cup Playoff series, United looked to exact a measure of revenge on New York, but found themselves under pressure from the onset.

New York broke through in the 25th minute when captain Dax McCarty found himself with time and space in the midfield circle and lifted a long ball toward the United penalty area. Wright-Phillips latched onto the pass and expertly flicked it past onrushing defender Steve Birnbaum before finishing a half volley past goalkeeper Bill Hamid and into the far post.

DC nearly found the equalizer in the 33rd minute through Chris Rolfe, who had their best chance of the half. An unmarked Rolfe received the ball on the left side of the area and unleashed a diagonal shot, but Red Bulls goalkeeper Luis Robles came up with the sprawling save to keep United off the board.

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Photos by dbjsportphotos@gmail.com

United would live to rue their missed chance as New York doubled their advantage in the 71st minute. After Red Bulls midfielder Felipe forced a Davy Arnaud turnover in the DC half, the ball fell to Wright-Phillips who turned provider on the move. The Englishman found his fellow countryman, Sam, on the right wing and the midfielder did the rest, powering his shot past Hamid’s near post.

After Robles denied Rolfe once again from point-blank range in the 77th minute, the traveling DC support would have something to cheer about in stoppage time as RBNY defender Matt Miazga clipped Arnaud in the area for a penalty. But Pontius skied the ensuing spot kick, ensuring Robles his first shutout of the season.

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