Wayne Rooney takes the walk of shame after his red card. (USA TODAY Photo)
WASHINGTON, D.C. — The Red Bulls warmed up for their Hudson River Derby confrontation with New York City FC Saturday night with a 2-1 victory over D.C. United at Audi Field Wednesday night.
Daniel Royer snapped a 1-1 deadlock by converting a penalty kick in the 59th minute after the hosts equalized four minutes prior.
The win boosted the Red Bulls (12-10-5, 41 points) over D.C. (10-9-9, 39) and into third place in the Eastern Conference.
The Red Bulls are 2-0-1 at Audi since it opened last year and are 5-0-4 in their last nine matches vs. United.
“I think it’s a testament to the team that we are,” Red Bulls head coach Chris Armas. “We have looked at it closely and not just D.C. We have a lot of respect for them, we do, Ben and his staff, but we have really tried to control things on the road and be up for it. In these matches, you can’t let it slip and we have learned some hard lessons this year, but specifically with D.C., we never take it for granted.
“These guys [are] probably the richest team in culture, like winning, and there’s nothing less than that is acceptable around here so that goes back to my early years in the league as a player. So, for me it’s always a special team to play against and if we can beat them, even better.”
United played most of the game without star Wayne Rooney, who was red carded for violent conduct in the 24th minute. That gave New York a man advantage for 24 minutes before defender Amro Tarek was slapped with his second yellow card of the match for unsporting behavior three minutes into first-half stoppage time.
“Well, I mean listen when he’s on the field, they’re better, he can make the plays for sure.,” Armas said.
Kaku lifted the Red Bulls a 1-0 edge in the sixth minute before Ola Kamara knotted things up off a Joseph Mora assist in the 55th minute.
The Red Bulls, however, grabbed the lead again just about on the hour after United’s Lucas Rodriguez tripped defender Michael Amir Murillo in the penalty area. Royer converted past goalkeeper Bill Hamid for his ninth goal of the season.
Red Bulls goalkeeper Luis Robles staved off United’s attempts at equalizing late in the match, which included 10 minutes of second-half stoppage time.
Robles, the Red Bulls’ captain, calves cramped during the game as the game was stopped as he needed to recover.
“I got no dignity at the moment,” he said. “I’m a goalkeeper, my calves are cramping, I’m so embarrassed on the field. I apologized to the coach and the players. It was just a bizarre scenario and I just think about my pregame, ate some bananas, lots of water and for the way things happened tonight was crazy and I’m glad it worked out, but when I was on the ground, I was genuinely humiliated.
“I’m a goalie, like why are my calves cramping right now, I didn’t’ even run. These guys are running around and no one is cramping but I’m glad we won. It was a really important game.”