Photo by ISIphotos.com
BY DYLAN BUTLER
Three times in their first four games, D.C. United squandered a lead and dropped valuable points. Coach Tom Soehn preached about the importance of playing a complete game and his team heeded his words in a shocking come-from-behind 3-2 win against the rival Red Bulls Sunday at Giants Stadium.
"It's funny," Soehn said. "We said it's a 90-minute game and we waited until the last three minutes to step it up. It was a gutty performance."
Luciano Emilio struck for the game-tying goal in the 90th minute and 1:42 later, Chris Pontius struck for the dramatic winner in the first of three minutes of stoppage time.
D.C. was understandably ecstatic about leaving the Meadowlands with three points, considering they had conceded two goals in a six-minute span to fall behind 2-1 with a little less than a quarter hour remaining.
However, while New York will rue a missed chance to close out the game, so, too, did United, which took a 1-0 lead into the locker room at halftime thanks to Rodney Wallace's first career MLS goal in the 21st minute.
"I missed a chance, we hit the crossbar and you're looking at a game that could be 3-0 at halftime," Santino Quaranta said. "When you let a team like New York hang around, they have a lot of weapons — Juan Pablo (Angel) is phenomenal. We showed a lot of heart and character and that's all you can ask of the team."
The Red Bulls made a tactical change to open the second half, making a double substitution, bringing on Jorge Rojas and switching to three defenders. Admittedly, D.C. didn't deal well with the change and suddenly found themselves trailing 2-1 when Rojas set up both Juan Pablo Angel's tying goal and Dane Richards' go-ahead goal in the 74th minute.
Soehn, too, made a key substitution, bringing in Thabiso (Boyzzz) Khumalo for Wallace in the 81st minute.
"We wanted to win the game and do whatever we can to get points," Soehn said. "Boyzzz carried a lot of energy for us, (Brandon) Barklage came in and we started to play a little soccer at the end. It caught them by surprise."
"It's huge," Pontius said. "Obviously, everone knows it wasn't the prettiest game, but if you could manage to get 'Ws' on the board, that's what this league is about. Three points here is huge."