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In bizarre Atlantic Cup match, Red Bulls take the spoils

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The Red Bulls took all three points in a strange, controversial match.

MLS: New York Red Bulls at D.C. United Scott Taetsch-USA TODAY Sports

WASHINGTON – There have been so many intense matches between these two sides, but this was one of the wildest of them all. On a humid midweek evening in the nation’s capital, the New York Red Bulls took home a two goals to one victory at Audi Field in a match with hard tackles, red cards and bad referee decisions.

The visitors opened the scoring in the sixth minute as Kaku found a loose ball and converted his chance. Marc Rzatkowski started the goal, delivering a cross that was blocked by Lucas Rodriguez but not cleared out of danger. Kaku then picked the ball up and ripped it hard past D.C. United goalkeeper Bill Hamid.

Later on in the first half, VAR was used to give a straight red card to Wayne Rooney in the 24th minute, as he was seen giving a forearm shot to the neck of Cristian Casseres Jr. before the delivery of a corner. That put D.C. down to ten men.

But then, the Red Bulls got a man sent off of their own. Amro Tarek got booked in the 38th minute for a soft foul on Paul Arriola and was immediately given his second yellow for something he said to referee Ismail Elfath.

So, with both sides down to ten to start the second half, Ola Kamara bent a crazy ball into the far upper-90 in the 55th minute. It was an equalizer that delivered a feeling of, ‘Oh, here we go again.’

But, four minutes later, a questionable call to award a penalty for the Red Bulls, after Rodriguez slightly caught Michael Murillo, allowed New York to retake the lead. While the crowd chanted for VAR to get involved, it was all in vain, as the play had already been reviewed.

Daniel Royer took the penalty, waiting for Hamid to make the first move and easily converting inside the far post. After the full 90 minutes (plus 10 additional) was up, the visitors took three big points and an advantage in the derby.

“Really proud of the team, really proud of our guys, not just tonight, but last game,” Chris Armas said. “The way these guys have gone after these last so many games, makes us feel like we’re a real team. The results sometimes haven’t been there, we’ve battled and in games, it feels so good to see our guys get rewarded.

“Probably because they came with the right mentality, it was a really good start to the game. We talked about scoring first, in the first five to six minutes, we talked about sticking together to get through tough moments.

“To see the guys go through that and sticking to it until the last play of the game, they endured a lot tonight. This game had some ups and downs, and we are three points better for it and 41 points near the top.”

Now, the Red Bulls have to prepare for another big time derby match in the Bronx against New York City FC on Saturday. There promises to be even more fireworks in that one.