WASHINGTON -- Dax McCarty scored in the 72nd minute and the New York Red Bulls beat D.C. United 1-0 on Sunday in the first leg of their Eastern Conference semifinal series.

After a foul by United's Taylor Kemp, Sacha Kljestan's long free kick found McCarty -- who had slipped behind the defense -- 3 yards out and McCarty's header eluded goalkeeper Bill Hamid.

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The Red Bulls' defense was stifling, limiting United to nine shots, and none on target.

The Red Bulls' Mike Grella had a point-blank opportunity inside the 6-yard box in the 33rd minute, but Grella's shot deflected off Hamid's face and away safely.

United was awarded a free kick from 24 yards out in the 68th minute after a controversial hard tackle by Ronald Zubar, but Fabian Espindola's wide service was knocked away easily by Luis Robles.

United center back Bobby Boswell sat this one out due to suspension for an incident in Wednesday's knockout game against New England.