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D.C. United gets the better of the rival Red Bulls with a 1-0 victory at Audi Field

D.C. United defender Tony Alfaro tries to slow the New York Red Bulls' Kyle Duncan on Sunday at Audi Field. (Katherine Frey/The Washington Post)

Since Audi Field opened in 2018, D.C. United hadn’t beaten the New York Red Bulls at home. In fact, United hadn’t beaten its archrival in D.C. since May 2016 — at RFK Stadium — and it had gone 1-6-5 overall against the Red Bulls since then.

But on Sunday night, United made sure those trends didn’t continue. Despite not maintaining possession for most of the match, United got a goal from Ola Kamara in the 27th minute to beat the Red Bulls, 1-0, at Audi Field. Kamara scored his team-leading seventh of the season, and he has a goal in three straight MLS games.

“Once again, I’ll repeat this a million times, a team that creates opportunities is a team who has [the] biggest chances to win the game,” United Coach Hernán Losada said. “This team creates opportunities on the ball and off the ball and is ready to fight.”

Both teams came out playing fast, but the Red Bulls controlled the ball early. In the first half, the Red Bulls (5-6-3) had 62.7 percent of the possession, but United (6-7-2) managed 13 clearances to limit the Red Bulls’ opportunities.

United's Adrien Perez out after foot surgery, will miss significant time

The Red Bulls put pressure on United’s defense, but the visitors didn’t have any shots in the first 45 minutes. Instead, United had the first shot, and it took advantage.

Defender Julian Gressel deflected a Red Bulls pass and immediately crossed the ball into the box as Kamara streaked toward the goal with only goalkeeper Carlos Coronel standing in his way. Kamara slotted it past the keeper to put United ahead.

“Obviously, tonight, we got a big one going up 1-0,” Gressel said. “I’m doing my part. I’m trying to do that every week, every game and obviously hoping that goals happen more often from those situations than not.”

Gressel continued to set up his teammates. In the 40th minute, he sent a cross to Drew Skundrich, who headed it on goal but was denied by Coronel. A few minutes later, defender Tony Alfaro’s header off a corner from Gressel went wide of the net.

United’s best chance to increase its lead in the first half came on a through ball from Gressel to Kamara that left the leading scorer with a clear path ahead of him but a few defenders bearing down. Kamara was indecisive in the box and, before he could get off a clean shot, the defenders and goalie combined to block his attempt.

In the second half, the Red Bulls continued to attack, but unlike in the first half they took more shots. The Red Bulls managed four in the second half but put just one on goal.

That attempt on goal, by forward Cristian Cásseres Jr., was saved by United goalie Bill Hamid, who dived to his right and knocked the ball out of play. Hamid and his defense thwarted any other major scoring opportunities the Red Bulls had from there.

United forward Nigel Robertha had to be helped off the field by medical staff with what appeared to be a leg injury; Losada did not provide details but said he expects to be without Robertha for at least a couple of weeks. United is already without Brendan Hines-Ike, Adrien Perez and Edison Flores, among others.

Losada said it has been difficult to construct a lineup and make the changes he has wanted to implement, given all the injuries.

“For the long run, it’s going to be very tough,” he said. “So let’s try to recover now and have a free day tomorrow. From the next five games, we have four on the road. It’s going to be tough.”

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