HARRISON, N.J. – Dwayne De Rosario performed his signature goal-scoring strut Saturday, jerking forward and back as teammates converged in celebration. D.C. United had witnessed this dance untold times the past 10 years, victimized by the Canadian midfielder’s genius.
On this perfect summer evening, however, United joined the fun. Twelve days after being shipped to Washington, De Rosario victimized his former club with a 61st-minute goal to lift United to a 1-0 victory over the New York Red Bulls.
“You just want to do what you can to show what they gave up, but in the same sense, that is the business and I’m moving forward now,” said De Rosario, who had an assist in his D.C. debut last week.
United (5-5-7) ended a five-game winless streak and improved to 2-0-2 in its past four away matches. It became the first team in three months to hold the Red Bulls (6-4-10) without a goal and the first to blank New York this season at Red Bull Arena.
Three days after New York slammed Toronto, 5-0, United conceded few quality scoring opportunities and, in a reversal of recent form, showed its nerve in the chaotic final minutes. In its two previous matches, D.C. allowed late goals and settled for unsatisfying draws at home.
“Winning a 1-0 game for us right now is important because we’ve had some leads that we squandered,” Coach Ben Olsen said. “We worked all week on how we play when we are up a goal. It doesn’t mean we just sit back and defend. We need to play. We need to keep the ball. We need to still dictate the game and go for the next goal.”
The meeting — in front of 22,200 spectators, including 300 United supporters — carried additional significance for De Rosario and New York’s Dax McCarty, who swapped teams in the blockbuster trade.
“The way [De Rosario] dictated that game was pretty impressive,” Olsen said, “and that’s the reason why he’s one of the best this league has ever seen.”
Through the first half, United was on even terms, and as the match unfolded, gained the advantage in quality possession. It maintained firm defensive composure against MLS’s highest-scoring attack (34 goals, 20 in the first half) but let promising chances go to waste because of a heavy touch, wayward final pass and New York heroics.
United’s best chance of the half came in the closing moments. Chris Pontius’s through ball linked with Charlie Davies in stride. The swift forward gained a step on Tim Ream and touched the ball past charging goalkeeper Greg Sutton before snapping an angled bid on target. Ream, however, raced back in time for a sliding clearance at the near post.
The Red Bulls crackled after the break, quickening their play and applying higher pressure. D.C. keeper Bill Hamid made a diving save on Thierry Henry’s effort, and knocked away a deflection an instant before Luke Rodgers’s arrived.
United was under siege, but in an instant, the match turned. A step from the sideline, Andy Najar aimed to link with De Rosario, who let the ball slide to Josh Wolff. De Rosario shed McCarty’s mark and continued his run into the penalty area. Wolff supplied him.
De Rosario exploited a channel between two defenders, brought the ball down with his right foot and snapped a 12-yard, left-footed drive that struck the inside of the far post before crossing the goal line.
“I tend to think I am a fairly aggressive player, but DeRo is probably about as aggressive of a player as I’ve seen out there,” Wolff said. “He goes flying forward with good ideas and good reasons.”
Late stages of recent matches had been United’s undoing, but on this night, the club’s patience with the ball forced the Red Bulls to chase the game. And in the waning moments, United survived a dangerous free kick and a corner kick.
“This is a huge win for us,” center back Brandon McDonald said. “It was a big test for us and we overcame it.”
United notes: Rookie forward Blake Brettschneider has a concussion after being kicked in the head shortly after entering in the 87th minute. He remained in the game but needed assistance when it ended. . . .
Despite the loss, the Red Bulls claimed the annual Atlantic Cup (head-to-head results with United) on goal difference (4-1).