HARRISON, N.J. The Red Bulls paid the ultimate penalty for failing to convert a penalty kick and they find themselves out of the MLS playoffs again.
Kenny Cooper missed a penalty kick that had to be retaken and rookie Nick DeLeon scored the game-winning goal in the 88th minute to boost D.C. United to a 1-0 win in the second leg of the Eastern Conference semifinals at Red Bull Arena last night. United won the aggregate series, 2-1, after playing to a 1-1 tie in Washington, D.C., on Saturday.
The game was delayed a day because of the nor'easter snowstorm that made the field unplayable on Wednesday.
It was a crushing ending to the season for a team that boasted the league's highest payroll and the likes of Thierry Henry and Rafa Marquez, who was red-carded for accruing his second yellow card in the 75th minute.
"I thought we didn't deserve to lose," Red Bulls midfielder Tim Cahill said. "We tried our hearts out and we fell short. I'm gobsmacked . . . We obviously could have won the game. That's why it hurts so much."
It might hurt even more because the Red Bulls could have taken the lead in the 73rd minute. D.C. goalkeeper Bill Hamid was red-carded and sent off for tripping Cooper at the top of the penalty area. Joe Willis, who replaced midfielder Branko Boskovic, was put in goal. Cooper converted his attempt, but referee Mark Geiger claimed two Red Bulls encroached on the kick -- they were Henry and Dax McCarty -- and had the kick retaken. This time Willis dived to his left to deny Cooper.
Henry claimed a United player also encroached on the kick as well. "Normally if a guy on our team comes in and a defender comes in, it equalizes everything.," he said. "I know what actually happened."
Cahill would not allow any member of the media to talk to the sullen Cooper, who sat at his locker looking stunned. Asked if he said anything to Cooper, Cahill replied, "What do you say? It's life. I've missed penalties in the past. I don't even for one instant blame him."
Donation to storm relief The Red Bulls announced that they will donate half the gate revenue from Thursday night's game to relief efforts in the wake of superstorm Sandy. A donation of at least $250,000 will be split among the American Red Cross, the Hurricane Sandy New Jersey Relief Fund and The Mayor's NYC Fund for Hurricane Relief . . . Former Red Bulls managing director Erik Stover was named the chief operating officer of the New York Cosmos. Stover said his top priority was to name a coach.