It’s been quite some time since anyone has left RFK Stadium feeling good about both a big win and even more important, a very good performance.
Francis Doe, signed in mid-season, provided United with a much needed two goal tonic as he helped propel the Black and Red back into the thick of the playoff chase in United’s huge 2-1 win over New England last night.
Doe’s goals in the 63rd and 80th minutes erased Taylor Twellman’s open net finish in the 58th minute that could have sealed United’s playoff fate had they gone on and lost the match. United now has vaulted to the seven spot in the playoff rankings with 37 points, one point ahead of both New York and Kansas City who have yet to play this weekend. It’s fair to say that everyone with a vested interest in United’s playoff survival will be keenly aware of those two big matches this weekend.
The match started off with an intensity that has rarely been seen at RFK since mid-summer. United came out with a purpose and were unfortunate not to be leading at the half. Luciano Emilio, playing for the first time since missing his last four MLS matches with a hamstring injury, had three golden opportunities to break his own long goal scoring streak.
In the 30th minute Doe made a fantastic move by splitting Revolution defenders Chris Albright and Gabriel Badilla and his curling shot was well saved by Matt Reis. The rebound bounced into the path of Emilio who shanked his shot over the top of the goal. Just three minutes later Emilio missed fractionally wide on a header from a Santino Quaranta corner kick. Emilio’s first half frustration was complete when he redirected a Boyzzz Khumalo cross off the crossbar with Reis completely beaten.
On the other side of the field United goalkeeper Louis Crayton did his part in keeping the Revs off the scoreboard. His 25th minute save off a Mauricio Castro free kick was one of his best reflex saves of the year. Crayton also stopped a Khano Smith angled drive in the 37th minute to keep the game at 0-0 heading into halftime.
After the break it was the visitor’s who picked up the pace. Taylor Twellman, a lifetime United killer, got off three dangerous chances inside the first seven minutes of the half. His persistence paid off in the 58th minute when United got caught in a when the Revolution countered swiftly after Emilio was stripped at the top of the penalty area heading towards goal. Michael Parkhurst picked up the loose ball and sent it to midfield for Kheli Dube. United defender Gonzalo Peralta did a poor job of defending and allowed Dube to escape easily and he sent Castro free and clear down the right wing. Crayton came out to head off Castro who simply played a square ball to Twellman to tap into an empty net and give the Revs the 1-0 lead.
Against recent character that has seen United continually fold up the tents when adversity hits, United fought back hard. Head coach Tom Soehn inserted Jaime Moreno, back from his two game suspension, into the match and United started pounding the Revolution goal. The aggressive if not desperate approach paid off in the 63rd minute when Moreno sent Doe in on goal. Doe controlled the ball and his cutback easily duped the Costa Rican Badilla who slipped out of the play and Doe beat Reis to the near post with a wormburning bullet to level the match at 1-1.
United continued to forge ahead and got the game winner in the 80th minute. Louis Crayton sent a ball into Revs territory that Quaranta did well to flick into the path of Doe. Doe then fought off a very physical challenge from Parkhurst and then curled a shot into the upper 90 past a stunned Reis and RFK erupted as United won their first league match since late August and now find themselves with a reasonable chance to make the postseason playoffs should they win in Columbus next weekend.
United will need some help however as both New York and Kansas City have home matches this weekend. Red Bull will host the Crew while Kansas City will welcome San Jose. United will also be looking closely at a few Western Conference matches with playoff implications. FC Dallas plays at Real Salt Lake and Colorado plays at Chivas USA on Sunday afternoon.
United plays their last game of the season next weekend at Columbus. Depending on results from this upcoming weekend, United will most likely have to win in Columbus to have any chance of making the postseason.