DeLeon’s late goal lifts D.C. United into Eastern final

Series with Houston starts Sunday

  • D.C. United midfielder Nick DeLeon celebrates at the end of the MLS Eastern Conference semifinal playoff soccer game as New York Red Bulls goalkeeper Luis Robles watches on Nov. 8, 2012, in Harrison, N.J. DeLeon scored the only goal of the game as D.C. United defeated the Red Bulls, 1-0, to advance to the next round. (Associated Press)D.C. United midfielder Nick DeLeon celebrates at the end of the MLS Eastern Conference semifinal playoff soccer game as New York Red Bulls goalkeeper Luis Robles watches on Nov. 8, 2012, in Harrison, N.J. DeLeon scored the only goal of the game as D.C. United defeated the Red Bulls, 1-0, to advance to the next round. (Associated Press)
  • New York Red Bulls midfielder Tim Cahill (right) pushes D.C. United midfielder Branko Boskovic during the first half of an MLS Eastern Conference semifinal playoff soccer match on Nov. 8, 2012, in Harrison, N.J. (Associated Press)New York Red Bulls midfielder Tim Cahill (right) pushes D.C. United midfielder Branko Boskovic during the first half of an MLS Eastern Conference semifinal playoff soccer match on Nov. 8, 2012, in Harrison, N.J. (Associated Press)
  • New York Red Bulls defender Markus Holgersson controls the ball in front of D.C. United forward Lionard Pajoy (26) and Branko Brskovic (8) during the first half of an MLS Eastern Conference semifinal playoff soccer game on Nov. 8, 2012, in Harrison, N.J. (Associated Press)New York Red Bulls defender Markus Holgersson controls the ball in front of D.C. United forward Lionard Pajoy (26) and Branko Brskovic (8) during the first half of an MLS Eastern Conference semifinal playoff soccer game on Nov. 8, 2012, in Harrison, N.J. (Associated Press)
  • D.C. United goalkeeper Bill Hamid (right) makes a save on a shot by New York Red Bulls midfielder Dax McCarty during the second half of an MLS Eastern Conference semifinal playoff soccer game on Nov. 8, 2012, in Harrison, N.J. D.C. United defeated the Red Bulls, 1-0, to advance to the next round. (Associated Press)D.C. United goalkeeper Bill Hamid (right) makes a save on a shot by New York Red Bulls midfielder Dax McCarty during the second half of an MLS Eastern Conference semifinal playoff soccer game on Nov. 8, 2012, in Harrison, N.J. D.C. United defeated the Red Bulls, 1-0, to advance to the next round. (Associated Press)
  • New York Red Bulls forward Kenny Cooper (left) battles for control of the ball with D.C. United defender Dejan Jakovic during the second half of an MLS Eastern Conference semifinal playoff soccer game on Nov. 8, 2012, in Harrison, N.J. D.C. United defeated the Red Bulls, 1-0, to advance to the next round. (Associated Press)New York Red Bulls forward Kenny Cooper (left) battles for control of the ball with D.C. United defender Dejan Jakovic during the second half of an MLS Eastern Conference semifinal playoff soccer game on Nov. 8, 2012, in Harrison, N.J. D.C. United defeated the Red Bulls, 1-0, to advance to the next round. (Associated Press)
  • New York Red Bulls forward Kenny Cooper (right) sails over D.C. United  goalkeeper Bill Hamid during the second half of an MLS Eastern Conference semifinal playoff soccer game on Nov. 8, 2012, in Harrison, N.J. D.C. United defeated the Red Bulls, 1-0, to advance to the next round. (Associated Press)New York Red Bulls forward Kenny Cooper (right) sails over D.C. United goalkeeper Bill Hamid during the second half of an MLS Eastern Conference semifinal playoff soccer game on Nov. 8, 2012, in Harrison, N.J. D.C. United defeated the Red Bulls, 1-0, to advance to the next round. (Associated Press)
  • D.C. United midfielder Nick DeLeon (top) leaps over New York Red Bulls defender Rafa Marquez during the first half of an MLS Eastern Conference semifinal playoff soccer game on Nov. 8, 2012, in Harrison, N.J. (Associated Press)D.C. United midfielder Nick DeLeon (top) leaps over New York Red Bulls defender Rafa Marquez during the first half of an MLS Eastern Conference semifinal playoff soccer game on Nov. 8, 2012, in Harrison, N.J. (Associated Press)

“[Russell] had a good disguised ball, and I just put my head down and hit the ball,” DeLeon said. “I wasn’t aiming anywhere.”

The aggregate win was United’s first playoff series triumph since a 2-1 victory over the Red Bulls in 2006, continuing a yearlong resurgence for what historically has been the league’s most successful club.

Second-seeded D.C. (17-10-7) and No. 3 New York (16-9-9) traded own goals for a 1-1 draw at RFK Stadium on Saturday in Game 1.

Originally set to be hosted by United on Wednesday, this decisive second leg was moved to Red Bull Arena when the organizations last week swapped home playoff dates following Superstorm Sandy. In theory, the switch was made to give the New York metropolitan area more time to recover from the storm’s devastation.

But the weather again intervened. As a nor’easter struck the region, a steady stream of wet snow caused an hour-long delay Wednesday. When it became evident the flakes were falling faster than they could be shoveled, the match was postponed altogether.

Some 700 United fans traveled Wednesday, only to head straight back to the District after the postponement. But that did not stop many from hopping on a league-provided bus Thursday to again make the trip.

“This organization has been through some tough years, and these fans have suffered,” Olsen said. “They were spoiled early, and then they went through a drought. So this gives them hope. This gives them excitement.”

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