The New York Red Bulls were up a man for 70 minutes and only got a draw against D.C. United, 2-2.

While the team remains undefeated at home through ten, a huge achievement this season, the night will be remembered as a what-if. While New York walks away with the historic Atlantic Cup rivalry trophy, it misses out on three much-needed points.

Out of everything, though, here are three key takeaway points as the team readies for yet another mid-week clash this Wednesday.

Man Up, No Step-Up

New York got its first big break when Cristian Dájome fouled Cameron Harper two times in six minutes. Each foul earned him a yellow card for aggressively negating an attack, resulting in his ejection in the 20th minute.

Dájome will miss the next two games for both yellow card accumulation and the red card.

A frankly dumb foul in the box by United’s Pedro Santos, pulling down on a jumping Sean Nealis on a corner kick, allowed Elias Manoel to equalize with a penalty. But that was the closest New York got to a goal for most of the game.

Despite being a man-up, the Red Bulls could never severely threaten United keeper Tyler Miller. He only needed to make two saves on 23 shots, with only four being on target. Manoel and Dante Vaneir looked like ghosts at times. Wiki Carmona, while having flashes of greatness, did stumble. However, he completed nearly 90% of his passes in the midfield.

Dylan Nealis, of all players, had the best looks on the goal, especially in the first half.

Ultimately, this was another case of New York missing Lewis Morgan and Emil Forsberg. While both entered the game in the second half, that first 45 should have been far more. If those two had been ready enough to start, things probably would have gone that way—instead, D.C. United took a 2-1 lead into the break.

Harper Comes Through

One player whose performance can be understated is Cameron Harper. Re-signed to a new contract earlier this year, Harper scored the point-saving goal in the 78th minute.

He fed Kyle Duncan on the right side before getting the ball right back in the middle of the box.

He one-timed a right-footed shot between the goalkeeper and right post to level the game at 2-2.

In the 85 minutes that Harper played, the dual national was constantly the main player on the field. Yes, he was fouled twice by Dájome, which got the United player sent off. But Harper was fouled because he kept getting in behind the defense and attacking with the ball.

While Harper only averaged between 55-60% successful passes, he was key in getting the ball into the United end on multiple attempts. He was also key on the backend, making two huge tackles and recovering the ball three times.

Cameron has scored five goals this season, double his career total prior to 2024. He’s continued to make himself a critical piece of the New York roster as other players go down with injury, leave for international duty, or depart altogether.

Dual Homecomings

Saturday marked two returns to Red Bull Arena. Jared Stroud and Troy Lesesne both played their first games in Harrison since leaving the team at various times in the last few years.

Winger Jared Stroud spent five years in the RBNY system before leaving after the 2020 season. He was selected by Austin FC in the expansion draft and eventually found his way to St. Louis CITY SC. This means that while he has played against his former club, this was Stroud’s first time back in Harrison on the visitor’s bench.

His opening goal in the first few minutes of the match looked cathartic for a Garden State player who’s tried to make his way since leaving. Unfortunately, Jared was not able to play against his brother and current RBNY midfielder Peter Stroud either. Peter’s season-long injury kept that pairing from happening in Harrison’s familiar confines.

The second return was on the sideline as Troy Lesesne stood in front of the opposite bench. After helping lead New York to the playoffs last season following the departure of Gerhard Struber, the team and coach parted ways a few days after the season concluded. Lesesne made his way down to New York’s oldest rival in United.

While D.C.’s season has been tough, with the team sitting near the bottom of the Eastern Conference, it is still within range of a playoff spot. Meaning Saturday’s point was huge.

Neither Stroud or Lesesne were given pregame ceremonies to honor their return to Harrison as others have gotten this season.

New York has four more games before the Major League Soccer regular season goes on pause for the Leagues Cup. They will head down I-95 this coming weekend for a clash against the Philadelphia Union on Saturday.
Then, next week, the team, including former RBNY head coach Chris Armas, heads west to face the Colorado Rapids.


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