On Sunday afternoon at Red Bull Arena, the New York Red Bulls defeated DC United 1-0 in the second leg of their MLS Eastern Conference Semifinal to send New York through 2-0 on aggregate. VAVEL USA co-soccer editor Liam McMahon sat down after the game to evaluate the performances of all the players on Sunday afternoon.
Editorial note: ratings are on a scale of 1-10, one being the absolute worst and 10 being the absolute best. A rating of six means an average performance, one in which a player didn't do much right or wrong. To receive a rating, players must have been on the pitch for at least 15 minutes.
GK Bill Hamid-9
Just as he has done all postseason long, Hamid kept United in the match until the very end. His distribution was fantastic, and in the first half it launched a couple of counters with terrific long punts. He commanded his penalty area, kept his defense organized, and made a number of stunning saves which kept DC in the match until late on. Although he was unable to keep a clean sheet, his second half saves on shots from Sacha Kljestan and Bradley Wright-Phillips meant that the Black and Red were in the match right to the end.
DEF Steve Birnbaum-6
The natural center back was pressed into service at right back as Sean Franklin was unable to play, and he put in a decent shift. He didn't overlap with the same pace or regularity that Franklin can provide, but was game to try when he could. He did well to keep Mike Grella quiet.
DEF Bobby Boswell-5.5
Boswell had a quiet game and kept Bradley Wright-Phillips largely quiet. New York weren't able to play as fluidly as they often do because Boswell was so solid. Yet, he was also partially at fault for the goal. United were forced to throw numbers forward and were caught out at the back; the goal was partially his fault.
DEF Kofi Opare-5
The defender didn't have the worst game of his life, but his positional sense was lacking throughout the match. That was illustrated on a number of occasions when Wright-Phillips' movement dragged him out of position. Additionally, Opare dove in to a number of poor challenges. He didn't last the full 90 minutes as he was withdrawn so that United could throw on another striker.
DEF Taylor Kemp-6.5
Kemp had a solid game, and combined well in DC's attack. He did a good job of keeping Lloyd Sam in his pocket, and benefited from the fact that when Sam did create the space to put a ball into the box his delivery was poor.
MID Chris Rolfe-6
Rolfe provided a consistent threat up and down the wing, and did a good job of harrying in the midfield. He was forced to play the majority of the match on a yellow card, which affected his play some. Although he was unable to make a difference like he did during United's midweek match against the New England Revolution, Rolfe put in a decent shift.
MID Markus Halsti-6
Consistently broke up the Red Bulls' build-up play in the center of the park, and never allowed the axis of Dax McCarty, Felipe and Sacha Kljestan to really build up a rhythm. However, Halsti was never able to help United fashion a clear cut scoring opportunity.
MID Perry Kitchen-6
Much like Halsti, Kitchen was strong all game long preventing the New York midfield from dominating the game in the fashion which they often do. However, he picked up a needless yellow card which meant he had to spend the last 20 minutes of the match walking on egg shells.
MID Nick DeLeon-5
The midfielder came closer than any DC player to fashioning a clear cut chance, when he had two decent shooting opportunities from 20-25 yards out in the second half. However, in a game in which the Black and Red desperately needed a goal, DeLeon was unable to even hit the target let alone trouble Red Bulls keeper Luis Robles.
F Fabian Espindola-7
Espindola played the "Carlos Tevez role" to tremendous effect on Sunday, covering nearly every blade of grass and earning a number of fouls in terrific attacking positions. Although he was unable to create or take a chance, Espindola put in a very strong performance.
F Alvaro Saborio-6
Much like Espindola, Saborio attempted to cover every blade of grass he could. He hassled, harried and did all he could to force New York into a mistake defensively, but his first touch was lacking and he was withdrawn for Jairo Arrieta on 69 minutes as DC manager Ben Olsen searched for an equalizer.
F Jairo Arrieta-6
Arrieta only came on for the final 20 minutes, and didn't play the role of impact sub as Olsen surely would have desired. He injected some pace, but nothing more.
F Miguel Aguilar-N/A
Aguilar came on for the game's final 10 minutes as Olsen attempted to throw everything forward. He didn't play long enough to earn a rating, and was farely anonymous on the pitch.
New York Red Bulls
GK Luis Robles-6.5
Was hardly forced to make a save all game long. Commanded his penalty area, was never even close to being beaten in the air, and looked in charge for the full 90 minutes. Continues to state his case for why he should be thought of as the best goalkeeper in MLS.
DEF Kemar Lawrence-7
Bombed up and down the left flank all game long, providing an attacking option as Mike Grella looked to cut inside. Lawrence didn't shirk his defensive responsibilities either, and helped keep a lid on the United attack all afternoon long.
DEF Matt Miazga-8
Showed why United States Men's National Team manager Jurgen Klinsmann called him up for their impending World Cup Qualifiers. He was a rock at the back, showed a calm head when building play, and had one moment of sheer defensive brilliance to dispossess Saborio in the first half which illustrated exactly why he's been the subject of inquiries from Chelsea and Leicester City.
DEF Ronald Zubar-6
Miazga may have looked even better because he was compared to Zubar, who was poor all game long. He was lucky to avoid a yellow card, and seemed incapable of keeping possession. He's one of those players that you almost expect to make a mistake at some point in the match.
DEF Sal Zizzo-7
Much like Lawrence, Zizzo did well to overlap and join in the attack. His delivery was terrific, and he picked his moments well to get forward. Defended smartly, and cut out a couple of counter attacks.
MID Dax McCarty-8
Operating as the shield in front of the back four, McCarty was a key reason why United only completed 61% of the passes they attempted. Although New York didn't stroke the ball around with the fluidity they normally do, McCarty did well to circulate possession. In the second half, he pushed forward well and created a clear cut chance for Sacha Kljestan which the midfielder ought to have tucked away.
Lacked his normal precision when passing. Hit a couple of typically eye catching crossfield balls which will fill up a highlight DVD, but he was slack in possession. Could afford to up his performance against Columbus in the next round.
MID Mike Grella-5
The winger hit the post in the second minute after a wonderfully orchestrated corner kick routine. However, that was as good as it got for the winger. He had another chance moments later, but could only tamely strike the ball into the arms of Hamid.
MID Lloyd Sam-7
Sam showed some fantastic trickery on the right wing, but his end product was lacking. His pace and skill on the ball have never been in doubt, and they were on full display on Sunday. Yet, he's never been able to be a complete winger, and that was also on display. On a number of occasions, he would create space brilliantly only to hit a poor ball into the box. Could have been man of the match if he'd connected on a cross.
MID Sacha Kljestan-6
He made the difference in the first leg with a stunning delivery into the box that found the head of McCarty. In this game, his crossing ability on set pieces was nowhere to be found. It got worse as the game went along, and his one shooting chance off a free kick was poor as well. Should have scored late on, but Hamid was able to easily save his strike.
F Bradley Wright-Phillips-8
The striker scored in stoppage time to put the game away. However, he could have opened the scoring nearly ten minutes earlier when he was clean in on goal. It was not his fault that he didn't get any quality service, but he could have done more to get involved in the play. That being said, he made the difference on Sunday.
MID Shaun Wright-Phillips-N/A
The winger nearly played long enough to pick up a rating, but was forced off after almost 15 minutes when he picked up an injury. A frustrating afternoon for the player who was visibly distraught as he came off the pitch.
MID Gonzalo Veron-N/A
Although he didn't play long enough to be rated, the DP made a huge difference. He created the goal, and nearly had one of his own just a minute later. Talk about an impact substitution.