Dwayne De Rosario had his moment, and it was sweet. But then the script was spoiled by a most unlikely source.
In the long run, D.C. United’s 2-2 draw with the New York Red Bulls at RFK Stadium on Wednesday will be remembered as the night De Rosario became the seventh player in MLS history to score 100 goals. It’s a milestone that had hounded the reigning Most Valuable Player for months, and one that came against the club that shockingly traded him last summer.
In the immediate aftermath, though, United found themselves dwelling on the two points lost in the standings when Wilman Conde, New York’s makeshift left back, tied the game late with a thunderous long-range strike.
“It stings a lot,” goalkeeper Bill Hamid said. “We needed this win, we were hungry for this win, and at the same time, we had an added incentive to do it for De Ro. It’s unfortunate. It’s a great hit. There’s nothing you can do — you just tip your hat to it.
With the tie, United (12-9-5) are just two points ahead of both the Montreal Impact (12-13-3) and Columbus Crew (11-8-6) for the fifth and final Eastern Conference playoff slot. With eight games remaining, it’s uncertain positioning for a team that two months ago found itself in first place.
Considering United haven’t secured a result on the road since mid-June, dropping points at home to a conference rival such as New York (13-7-7) is all the more disheartening.
“We did enough to win,” coach Ben Olsen said. “It’s a tough one to take.”
Running onto a hopeful ball forward from DeLeon, De Rosario beat Bill Gaudette to the service, avoiding a collision with the goalkeeper as his header nestled in the empty net. Once he strutted through his patented “shake-and-bake” celebration, the 34-year-old collected the ball and handed it to the United bench before sharing a moment with Olsen and pointing to the heavens.
All the while, chants of “De Ro” echoed through the stadium.
“The ball’s in the air, and I figured I’m either going to wake up tomorrow and wonder what happened or I’m going to put it in the back of the net,” De Rosario said. “It’s surprising because I really don’t score with my head. But if I remember the times I do score with my head, they’re at the right time.”
In the 86th minute, De Rosario received another ovation as he departed the field, making way for Branko Boskovic. Two minutes later, Conde dampened the festive mood.
Running onto a cleared cross 25 yards from goal, the veteran defender went away from his favored left foot and instead hit a rocket with his right that sailed into the upper corner. For Conde, it was his first MLS goal since 2009.
“We talked all week about teams earning goals against us and not just giving them goals,” Olsen said. “They earned one there in the end.”
Early on, New York took control against a fatigued United team playing the fourth game of a stretch featuring five matches in 13 days. In the 19th minute, French star Thierry Henry found Lindpere on the left flank, and the Estonian buried a strike past Hamid.
United equalized two minutes later when De Rosario’s chip into the box was redirected by DeLeon and slipped through the hands of Gaudette. It was the fifth goal of the season for DeLeon and the 12th assist for De Rosario, who moved into a tie for second in the league.
Statistically, it was another stellar evening for De Rosario. Over the past 12 years, those have come with stunning frequency.
“You don’t get to 100 by getting luck,” De Rosario said. “So I knew the goal was going to come — it was just a matter of time. Thankfully, I was able to get it tonight and help my team get a point. Unfortunately, we didn’t come up with a winner.”