Jaime Moreno has a long history of punishing Major League Soccer’s New York franchise, but the D.C. United striker came up short Saturday night at RFK Stadium when he missed a penalty kick late in the game. As a result, United had to settle for a scoreless tie with the Red Bulls.
”I think he tried to hit in the corner and put to much power on it,” United coach Tom Soehn said. “Sometimes when you hit it as hard as he did, you lose some of the accuracy. He did a lot in the game, but I’m sure fatigue had something to do with it.”
Moreno, who has converted a record 37 penalty kicks in his career, won the spot kick when New York defender Andrew Boyens fouled him in the 18-yard box in the 81st minute. But the Bolivian, who has scored a record 23 goals against New York, hit the ball wide of keeper Jon Conway and the right post.
“Unfortunately, I missed an important penalty, but that’s life,” said Moreno, who has scored nine goals this season. “I powered it and it was a little wet, but that’s not an excuse. I usually don’t power that much, and I put a little more spin than usual. The keeper didn’t move so it was just not a good penalty kick.”
With the tie, United (10-10-2, 32 points) retained the Atlantic Cup, awarded to the winner of the series between the two clubs, by virtue of being the holders. The teams remain tied for the fourth spot in the Eastern Conference.
United’s defense contained Colombian striker Juan Pablo Angel, who has been on a scoring binge in recent games. Goalie Louis Crayton had five saves to earn his third shutout in four games.
It was a tough night for United’s offense. Striker Luciano Emilio left the field with an injury in the first half. But Marcelo Gallardo, United’s star midfielder, entered the game in the 70th minute. The club’s big-money playmaker has been recovering from sports hernia surgery and had not played since June 29.
While Crayton kept United in the game with some big saves, he also took some risky moves coming way out of his box to make clearances
“He’s got to know that once is OK, twice is pushing it and three times is too many,” Soehn said.
The Liberian goalie displayed his foot skills in clearing the ball from danger.
“I know everyone was kind of nervous about that,” Crayton said. “This is what football is all about - it’s about risks. If I had stayed in my goal we may have been talking about a different result right now. I didn’t do it to put up a show. I did it to save my team and prevent us from losing the game.”
In the 17th minute, Crayton dived low to the right to stop a shot from Angel.
The Colombian striker nearly won the game for the Red Bulls in the dying minutes, but his shot went just wide. The danger was still not over, and Crayton was again called on to stop a header from Diego Jimenez.