DC United eliminates NY from MLS playoffs

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New York Red Bulls midfielder Tim Cahill, right, pushes DC United midfielder Branko Boskovic during the first half of an MLS Eastern Conference semifinal playoff soccer match, Thursday, Nov. 8, 2012, in Harrison, N.J. (AP Photo/Bill Kostroun)

HARRISON, New Jersey — Nick DeLeon scored the winning goal in the 88th minute as D.C. United advanced to the MLS Eastern Conference final with a 1-0 victory over the New York Red Bulls on Thursday.

United advanced 2-1 on aggregate after a 1-1 draw in Washington on Saturday, and set up a conference final against Houston Dynamo.

In a game that was postponed a day by snow, the Red Bulls appeared poised to take the lead in the 69th minute when they were awarded a penalty as D.C. United goalie Bill Hamid was given a red card.

Kenny Cooper netted the penalty but it was disallowed for encroachment, then D.C. backup keeper Joe Willis made a crucial save on the second attempt.

Cooper took a little hop before the second shot, but decided to go to his right and was thwarted by Willis. His first kick had beaten Willis to the other side.

The penalty kick was set up when Thierry Henry found Dax McCarty, whose through-ball sent Cooper on a breakaway. Hamid came off his line to challenge, but when Cooper pushed it past him, the keeper reached out and tripped Cooper.

The winning goal came when Robbie Russell’s through-ball sent DeLeon in on goal alone and he put his chance away past Red Bulls keeper Luis Robles, who was hardly tested all game.

The Red Bulls’ man-advantage only lasted until the 75th when veteran Mexicna defender Rafa Marquez was ejected after receiving his second yellow card.

D.C. United has not won the Eastern Conference since 2004, when it went on to claim the MLS Cup title.

For New York, it is another fruitless season, with the 1996 foundation club having never won the MLS crown.

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