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Immediate RBNY Fan Reaction: DC Tie Portland, Red Bulls 1 Point Away from MLS Playoffs
It was arguably the most exciting 15 minutes in the history of Major League Soccer. I certainly hope those running the show at MLS headquarters are smart enough to put the second half of this match up on the league's official website for the entire world to see.
The match: Perhaps a single table/no playoffs system isn't the best thing for MLS. Both Portland and DC entered this contest playing for their playoff lives. DC needed a win to keep hope alive, while a tie would, for at least 24 hours, give the Timbers hope of earning a playoff berth this weekend when the club faces Real Salt Lake. United were the better side throughout the first 45 minutes of play, threatening time and time again. Players such as Brandon McDonald, Charlie Davies, Andy Najar and even should-be league MVP Dwayne De Rosario (more on him later) just couldn't find that vital final touch to push the home side in front.
The breakthrough moment came in the 24th minute, and it was one which silenced much of the RFK crowd. Timbers forward Kenny Cooper took advantage of some horrendous marking inside the penalty area, connecting with a well-placed cross sent in by Rodney Wallace. Cooper's header beat goalkeeper Bill Hamid, and Portland were up 1-0.
The Timbers held that lead for nearly 50 minutes, when a hero, one battered, bruised and noticeably limping throughout the second half, gave DC new life. Dwayne de Rosario, attempting to create space while inside the left portion of the penalty area, sent in what can only accurately be described as a "GOLAZO," a left-footed riser which Portland 'keeper Troy Perkins had zero chance of stopping. If there was any doubt heading into Wednesday's match, there shouldn't be any longer. Dwayne De Rosario is the 2011 MLS MVP. No questions asked.
The final 20 minutes or so (stoppage time included) have to be seen. There's no way anybody could accurately describe the action. Fans of both clubs will be lamenting numerous chances during the waning moments of the contest, but the two goalkeepers definitely deserve more than just a little praise for their efforts. Both Hamid and Perkins made highlight reel saves, and truth is neither 'keeper deserved a loss.
DC and their fans will feel absolutely gutted for weeks regarding the goal that wasn't. It appeared a Blake Brettschneider header had given United the win at the death, but a correct offside call took the goal off the scoreboard. The match concluded 1-1, and Red Bulls fans everywhere rejoiced.
What it means: DC United are mathematically eliminated from the 2011 playoffs. The Red Bulls, who host the Philadelphia Union Thursday night (October 20) at Red Bull Arena, now need just a single point to clinch the final available wild card spot. Portland, currently trailing the Red Bulls in the standings by two points, need a New York loss AND the Timbers must beat Real Salt Lake on the road this coming Saturday. The Chicago Fire have not yet been eliminated from playoff contention, but they need a miracle to play past this weekend. In other words, we'll cross that bridge if the Red Bulls burn it down with a loss on Thursday night.
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