Red Bull New York survived a late sending off to edge D.C. United in a 2-1 victory at Red Bull Arena on Saturday.
Ibrahim Sekagya was given his marching orders 18 minutes from time, but it made no difference as goals from Lloyd Sam and Tim Cahill were enough to see New York (12-9-6) climb into a tie with the Montreal Impact and Sporting Kansas City for first place in the Eastern Conference with 42 points each.
D.C. United (3-18-5) sees its winless run extended to four games as it drops its 18th match of the season, leaving the club at the foot of the overall MLS table on 14 points.
New York was denied a penalty kick in the eighth minute when Tim Cahill went down under a sliding challenge from Dejan Jakovic, but play was allowed to continue. The Red Bulls made the most of the opportunity, though, as Sam collected the ball and chipped a lovely effort off the far post and narrowly over the goal line.
D.C. clawed its way level in the 36th minute when Dwayne De Rosario picked out Nick DeLeon, who juked by David Carney before firing a shot past Luis Robles.
But the Red Bulls restored their lead two minutes later when Cahill turned in Jonny Steele's cross without a powerful header.
The visitors were handed a lifeline in the 72nd minute when Sekagya was sent off for denying De Rosario a scoring opportunity in the penalty area, but the Canada international was unable to take advantage as he was denied from the spot by Robles.
The Red Bulls staved off some pressure from United to come away with all three points, securing the Atlantic Cup in the process to add insult to injury for Ben Olsen's side.