Nine months. That was the last time that D.C. United won a regular season match in Major League Soccer. Facing the prospect of having one of the worst losing streaks in MLS history, the club pulled together a complete performance and ended their winning drought by defeating the New England Revolution 2-0 at RFK Stadium on Saturday night.
In the first half, the two clubs played like two teams that have a combined one win in 2014. While both clubs were relying on their bread and butter (midfield possession) neither was able to make a serious run at the goal.
The Revolution were primarily focusing on United left-back Christian Fernardez. The Revolution midfielders were linking up on multiple possessions putting the defender on his back heel. In the eighth minute, Fagundez found an opening on the left side and drove the ball down the field and delivered a strong shot that just went outside the goal.
As the half would go on, United would run the offside trap to help neutralize the Revolution’s encroachment. Both Fagundez and Sene were found offside on multiple occasions which stymied the Revolution attack. With D.C. United goalkeeper Bill Hamid out with a foot injury and backup Andrew Dykstra starting, the defense put in a quality shift. Dykstra, who has not started in an MLS match since 2011, has been primarily playing in the USL PDL.
While the Revolution were able to get off a couple solid opportunities, it was D.C. United who was providing most of the offensive excitement in the first. For a club that had not scored a goal for four matches before last week, they looked very potent on offense. In the eleventh minute, forward Eddie Johnson made a cross into defender Sean Franklin who was unable to convert. Although Johnson was not able to deliver any serious chances, his passes were extremely accurate and led to multiple scoring opportunities for the club.
The opening goal of the match came in the forty-second minute when Revolution defender Jose Goncalves made a poor clearance and placed the ball into the back of his own net. Goncalves, the 2013 MLS Defender of the Year, otherwise had a very solid match and was able to keep Johnson away from the mouth of the goal.
In the second half, the Revolution took the game to the United defense. Sene and Fagundez were able to feed multiple passes into forward Teal Bunbury, who nearly equalized in the forty-ninth minute with a shot that went just over the cross-bar.
The Revolution were able to get another solid opportunity in the fiftieth-minute when midfielder Lee Nguyen made a pass into Bunbury who was unable to get a solid shot off. Center-backs Jeff Parke and Bobby Boswell did a superb job at boxing out Bunbury during the match and not giving him many clear shots on target.
Although United had few opportunities to extend their lead in the second-half, the club was able to use large amounts of time by making solid runs into the Revolution side of the field. Midfielder Nick De Leon made several strong runs that changed the field of possession and gave their defense a much-needed respite.
The Revolution nearly had an opportunity to equalize late in the match when forward Charlie Davies went down just outside of the eighteen yard box. However, head official Jorge Gonzalez gave Davies a yellow card for diving ending the club’s best scoring chance late in the match. Revolution head coach Mike Petke was then ejected from the match for arguing with the officials.
United sealed their victory in the ninety-second minute when substitute Chris Rolfe finished off a cross by forward Fabian Espindola. Rolfe, who had just been acquired by the club on Wednesday from the Chicago Fire, was able to make a deep run into the box without any defenders tracking him. It was his first goal of the season.
D.C. United will play next against their hated rivals, the New York Red Bulls, in the I-95 derby on Saturday while the New England Revolution will be heading home to play the Houston Dynamo on Sunday.
NEW ENGLAND REVOLUTION: Bobby Shuttlesworth, Andrew Farrell, A.J. Soares, Chris Tierney, Jose Goncalves, Andy Dorman, Diego Fagundez, Daigo Kobayashi (Steve Neumann 84’,) Lee Nguyen, Saer Sene, and Teal Bunbury.
Goals: Goncalves (42’-Own Goal)
Yellow Cards: Dorman (36’) and Davies (90’)
Red Cards: Coach Mike Petke also ejected in the 89th minute.
D.C. UNITED: Andrew Dykstra, Jeff Parke, Bobby Boswell, Sean Franklin, Christian Fernandez, Davy Arnaud, Perry Kitchen, Nick De Leon, Lewis Neal (Rolfe 63’,) Eddie Johnson (Conor Doyle 86’,) and Fabian Espindola.
Goals: Rolfe (92’)
Yellow Cards: Neal (4’) and Doyle (92’)