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United scraps their way to 0-0 draw in New England

Foxborough, Massachusetts, March 12, 2016 – D.C. United gained their first point of the season with a tough-as-nails 0-0 draw against the New England Revolution this afternoon at Gillette Stadium in Foxborough, Massachusetts. After giving up four second-half goals in their season opener in Los Angeles this past Sunday, United were much more resolute in defense and kept the home side to only three shots on goal in Travis Worra’s MLS starting debut.

The second-year keeper was forced into action as Andrew Dykstra was left home in Washington after suffering a slight injury in training during the week. United were also left short-handed as Patrick Nyarko, Markus Halsti and Fabian Espindola didn’t make the trip either. Worra didn’t have too much to worry about as he comfortably made all three of his saves but it was the one that got over his head that caused the most trouble when Lee Nguyen’s shot hit off the crossbar midway through the second half to give the Revs their best opportunity to take the lead.

While United did well enough in their opener to carve out more chances than was reasonably expected, today’s game fell back into line with expectations considering the players left behind. United was credited with three shots on goal as well with Rob Vincent’s first half drive the most dangerous of them all. However, it was the three near chances in the second half that United will look back on as missed opportunities to steal three points from the Revs.

First up was Luciano Acosta’s breakaway midway through the half but just as he was about to drive into the penalty area, his touch failed him and it allowed just enough time for Revolution defender Jose Goncalves to break the play up. United had two golden opportunities late in the match when substitute Miguel Aguilar broke down the right sideline and spotted fellow substitute Julian Buscher parked on the penalty spot all alone. A desperate leg flick from a Revolution defender prevented the ball from squeezing through traffic to Buscher who would have had Revs goalkeeper Bobby Shuttleworth at his mercy.

The ensuing corner kick saw Bobby Bosworth’s flick header make its way to the far post where Nick DeLeon’s left-footed blast sailed just wide of the opposite upper 90.

The Revolution should have won the game in stoppage time when Nguyen set up Kellyn Rowe inside the United penalty area but token pressure from United defender Taylor Kemp forced Rowe’s shot just wide of the far post.

Next up for United is their home opener against the Colorado Rapids on Sunday afternoon at RFK Stadium. This match will be seen nationally on ESPN2 at 5pm EST.

 

 

United advance to Semi-finals after frenzied 2-1 win over the Revolution

Washington, D.C., October 29, 2015 – With the already rich playoff history between D.C. United and the New England Revolution at hand, was there any surprise that last night’s classic tilt would be any different?

D.C. United once again came from behind to snatch a 2-1 win over the Revs and advance to the semi-final round of the 2015 Audi MLS Cup Playoffs. United will find out later this evening whether top seed Red Bull or #2 seed Columbus will come to town on Sunday afternoon to begin their home-and-home total goals series.

Chris Pontius’ header at the death in the first half and Chris Rolfe’s redemption strike in the 83rd minute cancelled out Juan Agudelo’s stunning world-class bicycle kick goal in the 15th minute at soggy RFK Stadium. This game had it all. Shots off the crossbar, the post, brilliant saves from both Bill Hamid and Bobby Shuttleworth and of course, controversy from official Mark Geiger.

Geiger awarded a penalty kick to United in the 74th minute when an Alvaro Saborio cross into the area deflected off the arm of Revs midfielder Kelyn Rowe. Unfortunately the normally reliable Rolfe (4 for 4 this season up to this point) hit his PK attempt off the inside of the post and out. Geiger again would be the center of attention in stoppage time when he waved off a hand ball claim in United’s area when Jermaine Jones attempted to cross and the ball clearly hit the arm of United defender Sean Franklin. Jones went ballistic at the no-call and chased Geiger down and made considerable contact with Geiger who immediately ejected the U.S. International. The sequence brought to mind a similar incident at the end of United’s playoffs last season when Fabian Espindola made contact with an assistant referee and was red carded. Espindola was then given a 6-game ban from MLS for those actions. One would believe that Jones’ punishment should be similar.

The game itself started out fast and furious and never let up through the final whistle. Chris Rolfe had the games first opportunity in the 4th minute when he ghosted in alone on Shuttleworth only to see his shot expertly kick-saved. Then came the moment that MLS fans will talk about for years. In the 15th minute a well worked passing sequence ended on the right foot of Kevin Alston on the wing. His one-time cross curled away from the line of players in the box. Agudelo tracked it and cracked a bicycle-kick from 16 yards out that left Hamid with no chance. Arguably the best goal ever scored in an MLS playoff game and incidentally the second bicycle kick goal scored by Agudelo at RFK. His first came when he was with Red Bull in 2011.

United can thank Bill Hamid for keeping them in the match because he was forced into back-to-back saves on Rowe within a minute of each other to keep United’s hopes alive. United responded in kind and should have equalized in the 21st minute when Espindola missed an open goal after latching onto a rebound save from a Chris Rolfe shot. Rolfe also had a near miss in the 26th minute when he skinned Revs defender Andrew Farrell only to see his left-foot shot hit the crossbar from close range.

As the half closed United were starting to take over the tempo of the match and the Black-and-Red got the precious equalizer just seconds before the halftime whistle. Espindola drew a foul along side the left side of the penalty area and his ensuing free kick found Pontius at the penalty spot. Pontius had to lean back and his header was perfectly placed into the far side netting to level the match at 1-1.

After the break the visitors regained control of the match and while Hamid didn’t have to make any critical saves, the Revs were buzzing around United’s goal. The pace had slowed considerably from the frenetic first 45 minutes as now both teams existence in the playoffs were at stake. After the ruckus in the 84th minute and the missed PK by Rolfe, it was Rolfe who would step up to nab the game-winner in the 83rd minute thanks to some enterprising play from Nick DeLeon and Espindola. DeLeon, who had struggled throughout the match, got hold of a ball outside the area and managed to hold on long enough for Espindola to overlap him. DeLeon’s clever back-heel set Espindola free and his pin-point pass between three Revs defenders found Rolfe all alone at the top of the goal box for an easy tap-in that sent the 11, 554 rain-soaked fans into delirium.

Just seconds after the Geiger/Jones confrontation, Geiger blew the final whistle and D.C. United had advanced in another playoff tilt with the Revolution.

United will now await the winner of tonight’s Montreal vs TFC match in Montreal. If the Impact win, United will face Red Bulls on Sunday. If TFC wins, the Crew, fresh off their 5-0 beatdown of United this past Sunday, will come to town.

DC United defeated the visiting New England Revolution 2-1 behind two second half goals from Chris Role. Photo: Martin Fernandez.

United ends two-game slide with 2-1 win over the Revolution

Washington, D.C, June 21, 2015 – Chris Rolfe (18) scored a pair of goals in the second half to lead D.C. United to an important 2-1 win over the New England Revolution at steamy RFK Stadium and extend their lead in the Eastern Conference to seven points. Photo: Martin Fernandez.

The win also pushed United (9-5-4, 31 points) to the top of the Supporters Shield race above the Seattle Sounders and Vancouver Whitecaps who both sit two points behind the Black-and-Red.

Both teams had midweek U.S. Open Cup matches to deal with but both sides held out the majority of their starting players for this match up on East Capitol Street. With the Revolution (6-5-6, 24 points) only four points behind United with a game in hand at the start of the match, it was of major importance for the visitors to set the tone and let United know they have a challenge for the top spot in the East.

The Revolution took advantage of a sleepy beginning for United and gained the early lead in the 10th minute. United midfielder Perry Kitchen was inattentive in his marking and allowed Revs midfielder Lee Ngyuen to slip behind him and the U.S. International fed a beautiful pass behind United’s defense where former United forward Charlie Davies smoothly side-footed a left-footed shot into the far corner past Bill Hamid for the 1-0 lead.

United very much were feeling the muggy conditions through the first half and struggled to maintain possession against the Revolution and were fortunate not to go down 2-0 in the 23rd minute when Hamid came up huge and smothered a goal-bound effort from Chris Tierney after he was sent in alone by another defense-splitting pass from Nguyen.

That save from Hamid seemed to wake United up and they upped the tempo through the remainder of the first half but as has been the case for long stretches of time in recent weeks, United just couldn’t find that final pass or final ball to set up a scoring chance. Chris Rolfe’s individual effort late in the first half was the sum total of United’s chances through the first 45 minutes.

After the break not much changed and the Revs quickly had another dangerous opportunity to double the lead when Nguyen’s screaming drive from 22 yards narrowly flashed over the crossbar. After that let off, United started to slowly turn the tempo of the match to their favor and started gaining more possession and with that came more opportunities to level the match. In the 56th minute United nearly tied the match when Fabian Espindola somehow worked his way to the end line under heavy pressure and floated a cross to the back post where Rolfe’s one-timer eluded the Revolution’s charging goalkeeper Bobby Shuttlesworth but couldn’t get past defender Chris Tierney who cleared the shot out of danger.

The Revolution were made to pay for their conservative approach in settling for the 1-0 lead and United equalized in the 70th minute. The same combination of Espindola to Rolfe this time was successful when Espindola’s right-footed cross floated over the entire Revolution defense and right onto the foot of Rolfe who easily tucked in the volley to level the match at 1-1.

United, despite not playing very well in the heat and humidity for most of the match, had a golden opportunity to go for the win when substitute Miguel Aguilar came up with the games biggest play. Aguilar was a breath of fresh air as he instantly pumped life into United’s attack and when he made a run towards the upper corner of the penalty area in the 80th minute, he was clumsily clattered into by former Georgetown midfielder Steve Neumann right on the edge of the penalty area. Referee Ismail Elfath didn’t hesitate to point to the penalty spot and Chris Rolfe calmly pushed the ball to Shuttleworth’s left and into the goal for second goal of the game and team-leading sixth goal of the season.

The victory for United was the fifth this season after allowing the opening goal of the game. United had won one total match the past two seasons combined when going behind by a goal. Up next for United is a midweek match up in Chicago to take on the Fire on Wednesday night at 8:30 pm EST. The match will be televised locally on Comcast SportsNet.

United Notes

  • Chris Pontius was slated to start the match at left midfield but was pulled during pregame warm ups with a slight calf issue. The move was precautionary according to Ben Olsen after the match
  • Davy Arnaud picked up a yellow card and will be suspended for the game in Chicago on Wednesday. Arnaud will be eligible to return next Saturday night in Toronto

 

Slumping DC hosts equally unimpressive Revolution

The dog days of summer are upon DC and New England as United is coming off two straight league losses for the first time all year and the Revolution managed their first win in six weeks last weekend.

However, while DC has not looked good in MLS play of late, they did manage a rousing win in the Open Cup while NE got booted from that tournament embarrassingly by a USL side, and both matches will likely have an effect on the league match tomorrow in RFK. DC needed overtime to advance and almost certainly the players who played a big chunk of those 120 minutes won’t be available or will be affected if they do play in this match, and while NE only played 90, they did have three potential starters play the whole match. DC’s win also puts United in another difficult scheduling run with tomorrow’s game now being the third match of a stretch of seven games in twenty days, and the only match in RFK in the whole stretch. Even worse, with Sunday match tomorrow and ending with a Friday match in Seattle, DC faces an absurd 5 matches in 12 days with trips to Chicago and Toronto before a bus ride to Philly and ending with a cross country flight. Clearly roster management will be key going forward.

So, with that in mind, I fully expect all the guys who played the majority of the match in Pittsburgh; Markus Halsti, Kofi Opare, Jairo Arrieta, Conor Doyle and Miguel Aguilar, won’t start or play much tomorrow, which could very well present a problem tactically against NE. But Revolution coach Jay Heaps will have a tactical problem of his own as two of his starting wingers, Kelyn Rowe and Diego Fagundez who have essentially been splitting time at left wing lately, as well as defender London Woodberry, went the distance in the Charlotte loss and NE’s schedule going forward isn’t easy either with them being in the second game of five games in fourteen days, although they don’t have the Open Cup to worry about any more.

With all that in mind, I think Olsen will pull the trigger and start Fabian Espindola and Luis Silva, last year’s team leading goal scorers, together for the first time this season as both have been injured or suspended for most of the year. In midfield it’s virtually a lock that Chris Rolfe, Davy Arnaud, Perry Kitchen and Nick DeLeon will start going left to right, but the defensive line will be interesting given Sean Franklin being out with a twisted ankle as well as Halsti, Opare possibly out, and the tactical situation. Normally, you’d think Chris Korb would play for Franklin and Taylor Kemp on the left with Bobby Boswell and Steve Birnbaum centrally. However, NE’s Teal Bunbury is likely to start on their right wing and he terrorized DC even when NE was down to nine men in DC’s miracle 1-1 draw last time these two teams met. It was obvious neither Korb nor later Kemp could contain him. Olsen could hope Kemp or Korb will do a better job this time around or he could ask Opare to suck it up and play centrally allowing Birnbaum to play left, but whatever he does has to be with keeping Bunbury from running wild in mind.

I think Heaps solves his problem by starting Fagundez, who is coming off a goal of the week last week, and Woodberry and just taking it for granted that the youngsters can recover easily enough to play tomorrow. So it seems pretty likely Heaps sends out Charlie Davies as his lone forward with Fagundez and Bunbury on the left and right wings respectively and Lee Nguyen as the playmaker underneath. Then Scott Caldwell and Andy Dorman, who replaces the injured Jermaine Jones rounding out the midfield. Chris Tierney, Jose Goncalves, Andrew Farrell, and Woodberry across the backline from left to right in front of Bobby Shuttleworth in goal.

Looking at the matchups and tactics, DC could well be a bit of trouble. NE plays more of a 4-3-3 considering the way Bunbury and Fagundez play so high and it totally flummoxed DC up in NE last time these two teams met. If it hadn’t been for Tierney and Nguyen getting somewhat bone headed red cards, NE might well have won that game going away. The way NE attack down the outsides and the way DC defends clogging the middle and often leaving the outside backs with little help outside of Rolfe who defends his side very well, United is prone to being pulled apart. Considering the way Davies is splitting defenders lately if DC’s central pairing gets pulled apart, it could be a bloodbath. However, DC can flip this on them and attack down the wings themselves hoping to force Bunbury and Fagundez or Rowe back on defense but that would require big games from Rolfe and DeLeon. Also, DC’s biggest strength offensively is the play of Espindola pouncing on mistakes or opening room for others and while Espy will no doubt bring it tomorrow, Silva has been terrible of late. Rolfe and DeLeon have been very quiet as well. All four of those guys have to have good games or DC will need some luck to win.

I expect DC to get a goal from a NE mistake as that has been their Achilles heel lately. The Revolution are giving up almost as many goals as they score despite Shuttleworth being lights out so far this year and I don’t see them keeping Espindola or Rolfe from poaching at least one. The rub will be keeping Davies, Bunbury and Fagundez from combining for more than one. I don’t see Nguyen doing much in this game given the wall he will face from Arnaud and Kitchen, but NE’s three attackers will be a handful. If Hamid plays, he might be the difference as he has been the last two years, but as good as Dykstra has been, he isn’t Hamid and I don’t see him pitching a shutout on NE.

At least the intangibles favor DC for the most part. DC is coming off two losses in a row including their last home match while NE won their last outing, but NE won in Foxboro and has been terrible on the road this year and DC’s loss was their first one at home in a year. DC is 5-1-3 in RFK this year and NE is 2-4-1 on the road, losing their last two on the trot and having given up 14 goals in their seven road games, 8 of those in their last 3 road matches. DC also holds the edge against NE in RFK all-time with a 19-9-4 edge since 1996, winning the last two in RFK and 4 of the last 5. In one of the oldest rivalries in MLS, DC holds the all-time edge at 29-26-10 over the years.

So there you go, this one is too close to call. DC hasn’t lost three in a row in over a year and hasn’t even lost two in a row at home in almost two years, but NE holds a lot of the tactical cards and matchups too. However, they stink on the road spilling goals like a leaky paint bucket, and DC seems to get all the luck they need at home outside of a brilliant performance by Giovinco. I expect this one to be close one way or the other. Assuming the soccer gods keep their mitts off the game, I expect both teams to get a goal at least, but who gets two or three is down to which team makes the mistakes on defense. DC has been good at not making mistakes in general, but NE is too good a team to keep playing so poorly on the road. Might be a draw is justice in this one.

United salvages a point against undiscplined Revolution; remain top of the East

Foxborough, Massachusetts, May 23, 2015 – Jairo Arrieta’s 80th minute goal salvaged a precious point for D.C. United in their topsy-turvy 1-1 draw with the New England Revolution tonight.

New England (5-3-5, 20 points) had two men sent off within minutes of each other early in the second half but the Black-and-Red could only muster that lone goal despite parking their team in the Rev’s half of the field for the remaining 30 minutes after Chris Tierney and Lee Nguyen were sent off in the 52nd and 58th minutes respectively. Tierney was shown a straight red for a studs up swipe on the shin bone of Chris Pontius. Six minutes later Lee Nguyen saw a second yellow card for a nasty elbow to Davy Arnaud. Don’t be surprised if Nguyen is suspended additional games for the intentional elbow.

United (6-2-4, 22 points) had it all to do with the two-man advantage but first had to overturn their 1-0 deficit courtesy of Charlie Davies first half stoppage-time goal to stake the home side to a deserved 1-0 lead. The Revolution dominated United in the first forty-five minutes before the Davies tap-in after a spectacular save from Bill Hamid on a Juan Agudelo header from a corner kick. United’s defense were slow in reacting to Davies, the former United man who scored 11 goals for the team in 2011.

United offered very little going forward in the first half as head coach Ben Olsen once again made numerous changes to his lineup as the team was playing their 5th match in 21 days. As was the case this past Sunday night in Philadelphia, United were lethargic and disconnected in the final third of the field. Add in the numerous injuries that have cropped up over the past few weeks and it was surprising to see them chasing a quality side like New England on their terrible Field Turf surface.

However, all that changed in the second half with the quite frankly boneheaded decision making by the Revolution with the sending offs of two of their top players in Tierney and Nguyen. Forced to scramble to cover for the ejections, Jay Heap’s team had no choice but to batten down the hatches and hope United’s futility in front of goal continued. Up to the point of the second sending off, United had gone 150 minutes without even registering a shot on goal going back to Sunday night.

United did persevere and gained the equalizer thanks once again to some astute substitutions from Olsen. Chris Korb had started at left back mostly to combat the dangerous Teal Bunbury on the the Revs right flank. However, once the home side were down to ten men, the efficiency and dangerous quality of Taylor Kemp’s cultured left foot was the way to go and Olsen made the move. Just a few minutes later he gave a United debut to another left-footer Facundo Coria, acquired just a few days earlier from Argentinos Juniors.

In the 80th minute both of those moves paid off in a big way. Davy Arnaud began the play by scooping a loose ball up out of midfield and quickly shifted it to his left to Coria. Coria then sent Kemp down the left flank and as the former University of Maryland defender approached the bi-line, he squared a pass across the goal mouth where Arrieta easily ghosted in behind Revolution defender Andrew Farrell and tapped the ball in near side for his third goal of the season.

United still had to time to grab the game-winner but their overall quality was lacking in getting that final ball in a game-winning position. This was not surprising consider the number of games they are currently forced to play and also the number of different players and combinations that have taken the field for United over the past three weeks. Up next for United it doesn’t get any easier as they now have to travel 3,000 plus miles to the North West to take on the Portland Timbers on Wednesday night. That match will be shown live on CSN at 10:30pm EST

 

DC hoping to fend off the Revolution

It’s a top of the table clash as the two top teams in the East battle in Foxboro tomorrow night with DC looking to shake off a bad loss to Philly and keep themselves ahead of the Revolution in the standings.

Ironically, the two longest unbeaten streaks in MLS this season were both snapped this past week as NE was throttled in KC 4-2 to see their 9 game run end while DC’s horrific stumble in Philly cost them what had been an 8 game run and now the two teams face each other with the Eastern Conference lead at stake. Both teams had rested starters in the midst of a dense run of games and paid the price.

DC coach Ben Olsen also has a couple key injuries to deal with as Fabian Espindola remains out with a balky quad, but this week saw his strike partner, Luis Silva rejoin him on the sidelines with a hamstring problem. Last year, Silva and Espindola combined for 22 goals, but this year neither has played many significant minutes nor have the two played together at all. Their loss has put a serious dent in United’s scoring punch and joining them on the trainer’s table will be winger Nick DeLeon hobbled by a twitchy hamstring of his own. All of which severely limits Olsen’s attacking options with another tough stretch of 5 games in 15 days looming on the horizon starting with the match in Foxboro.

NE on the other hand gets all their rested starters back and while they do have midfielder Andy Dorman suspended and lost defender Darrius Barnes with a torn knee ligament, arguably neither were starters and the loss of Dorman helps in that it puts US international Jermaine Jones back in midfield where he belongs instead of spelling defenders on the backline where he has been dismal at best. Barnes is a bit of a loss, but they have Kevin Alston and London Woodberry as very capable right backs.

So, needless to say Olsen’s attacking options are pretty straight forward until he gets his strikers back. I think it almost certain he plays Chris Pontius and Jairo Arrieta at forward, but I hope he reconsiders as Pontius has not played forward that well and has very little chemistry with Arrieta. Chris Rolfe on the other hand does have chemistry with the crafty Costa Rican so I’d rather see him play up top and drop Pontius back to midfield. Who joins Rolfe or Pontius in midfield will be interesting though. Davy Arnaud is the starter and should play next to Perry Kitchen, but Finnish midfielder Markus Halsti was all that and a bag of chips playing centrally in Philly. I think Olsen goes with Arnaud, especially with the glut of games coming up, but it won’t be long until Halsti is a starter. Replacing DeLeon is also a bit of a conundrum. Olsen has gone with Michael Farfan out there, but he is not a wide player and his talents wasted while his deficiencies are exposed. If it were me, I’d go with Miguel Aguilar and see what you’ve got in him. United has a history of young players seizing a starting job around this time of the season. The flashes he’s shown clearly indicate he’s a guy that could join the likes of guys like Kitchen, Pontius, Andy Najar, Josh Gros, heck Olsen himself back in the day. All guys who stole starting jobs and ran with them.

Defensively, Olsen probably needs to start thinking of getting Bobby Boswell and Sean Franklin a rest, but I don’t think both will miss time in the same game. Boswell should start this one and not even go to Portland. Franklin might sit this one out which is no problem as Chris Korb could easily play there leaving Taylor Kemp on the left. Kofi Opare has been playing very well in central defense, but Steve Birnbaum has to be close to starting or maybe even Halsti plays there to get him acclimated for spelling Boswell in the near future. All good options to have in front of Bill Hamid in goal. DC has kept a tight ship so far this year, but NE is arguably the best attacking team DC has faced to date. The Revs couldn’t score early, but are making up for it now and for DC to have a chance, Hamid will have to don his cape this weekend for sure.

NE on the other hand is likely to go with Juan Aguedelo at forward with Lee Nguyen playing underneath him. Kelyn Rowe will play one wing and likely Teal Bunbury the other. Maybe Diego Fagundez gets another shot, but Bunbury has been more effective. In midfield, it should be Jones and Scott Caldwell holding down the Fort so to speak. In defense, Chris Tierney should be back on the left, Jose Goncalves in the center with Andrew Farrell back beside him and Alston or Woodberry on the right in front of Bobby Shuttleworth. It was nice for Brad Knoghton to get a look, but he looked terrible in KC and Shuttleworth is getting a reputation for some wicked saves and is a big reason NE is where they are now after not being able to score the first month of the season.

So, looking at the tactics and matchups it looks pretty grim for DC. Its true NE is built and plays pretty similar to Columbus and DC handled the Crew easily enough. However, NE’s attackers are better more like the weapons NY has and DC hasn’t handled the Red Bulls well this year at all. Defensively, Rowe and Bunbury both are slashers with vision so they can beat you with a dagger pass if you lay back or get behind you if you play them tight. Nguyen hasn’t shown the MVP level play of last year, but he is warming up for sure and starting to click with Agedelo who leads NE in scoring. All of which is trouble for DC in particular Rowe and Bunbury going at Kemp and Korb. DC will have to play to force NE wide by clogging up the middle which I think they will do well enough, unfortunately that only gets them a 0-0 raw unless they score and that doesn’t seem likely at all.

Offensively, with Arnaud and the outside backs likely pinned back, it will be all on Arrieta and Rolfe or Pontius to create out of nothing against two very good center backs in Goncalves and Farrell. Nor will anyone do well against Tierney who is maybe the most under-rated defender in the league. I do like Aguilar’s chances to surprise him though, but Farfan has got no shot of outplaying Tierney. Pontius or Rolfe is the lone matchup that favors DC in that Alston is definitely the weak link in their defense, unfortunately he is also faster than any attacker we have so even if he gets beat, he’ll outrun any DC player to get back in time to make a play no doubt. And DC has to get some joy attacking wide because if Tierney and Alston spend more time in DC’s half then their own, United has none chance in this game.

Very likely this plays out as a 0-0 slog for a while, but NE is too good to not score at least one and that will likely be all it takes as I can’t see any way DC scores unless the soccer gods get involved on the side of all that is good pure in this world. Olsen’s road philosophy has opened up to be a lot more threatening and not as much of a gritty street fight as we’ve seen in the past, but for this particular game, parking the bus might be the best thing. Hamid and hope for a lucky bounce might just do the trick. Olsen has been piling up the points with smoke and mirrors for going on two years now, maybe his team finds a way in this one too. Even a draw would speak volumes to DC’s stalwart defense and veteran leadership. A win and DC puts a hammerlock on the East lead for a bit with games in hand, even a draw extends their lead a bit until New York plays, but a loss would drop DC out of first.

The intangibles are no help either by the way. NE is on a 3 game winless streak, but have been light’s out at home and hasn’t lost in Foxboro since last July. This year, they are 3-0-3 so far and have given up only 3 goals, never more than 1 to any opponent, while DC is 2-2 on the road and coming off a loss. As mentioned both teams got a long unbeaten streak ended in their last match, but DC’s loss to a woeful Philly side is much worse than the Revs getting jobbed in KC. DC does hold the all-time edge over NE at 29-26-9 since 1996, but DC is a pitiful 10-17-5 in NE and in fact only have one win there since a 3-0 win in 2007. Olsen did scrape out a 2-1 win in 2012 but that only makes DC 1-5-2 there since the Supporter’s Shield winning years of long ago. DC is a paltry 3-8-4 in NE this century and one of those wins was an absolute miracle. The Massachusetts Miracle in fact. Look it up, one of the most thrilling endings in MLS history.

Episode 142 – The Talent is Back

Join the guys on this special edition of the UnitedMania.com podcast. The boys talk about DC United’s past three matches, including the draw vs Montreal, the win against Houston, and the road loss to the New England Revolution. The guys also touch base on the US Men’s National Team and the noted omissions from the 23 man roster.

United’s valiant effort falls short in 2-1 loss to New England

It was always going to be a difficult prospect for D.C. United as they were playing their third match in seven days and had to leave three players expected to play at home before boarding their plane to Logan Airport in Boston, Massachusetts.

New England got goals from Patrick Mullins and Diego Fagundez sandwiched around a Fabian Espindola strike to lead the Revolution to a 2-1 victory at rainy Gillette Stadium this evening in Foxborough, Massachusetts.

The Revolution came into the match having scored 10 goals in their previous two league matches but United did very well to stymie the potent Revs attack. With United leaving Chris Rolfe, Luis Silva and Conor Doyle back in D.C. due to various injuries and illness, head coach Ben Olsen was forced to shuffle his lineup. In came season starting debuts for Alex Caskey and Collin Martin as well as welcoming Eddie Johnson back from a league-imposed one game suspension last weekend.

For the first forty-five minutes at least, the Revolution knew it wasn’t going to be another goalfest. United defended in numbers and countered when the opportunity availed itself but both teams went to the locker room at half scoreless.

In the 55th minute the home side took the lead under a touch of controversy. Diego Fagundez did well to split the United defense in the penalty area before Jeff Parke intervened and knocked the ball away. The ball ricochet off of Fagundez and was just about to be cleared by Chris Korb when he was hip-checked off the ball by Lee Nguyen. The play went uncalled and first-round draft pick from the University of Maryland Patrick Mullins picked up the ball and scored at a narrow angle past Bill Hamid to give the Revs the 1-0 lead. It was the fourth consecutive game that Mullins had scored for the Revolution in as many starts.

Undaunted, United bounced back and leveled the match in the 73rd minute. Substitute Lewis Neal played a ball to the left wing where Cristian Fernandez’ cross found Espindola in the penalty area. The Argentine striker took a touch to settle and drove it straight through the Revs defense and United seemed in business.

Just four minutes later however a defensive lapse by Neal would help provide the game-winning goal for the Revolution. Neal was stripped a bit too easily deep along the left touch line and the ball was immediately sent into the area by Teal Bunbury. The dangerous ball was parried by Hamid but it unfortunately fell right in stride for Fagundez who’s angled strike easily found the net.

More trouble was heaped on United just a few minutes later when Eddie Johnson was shown a straight red card by referee Juan Guzman. Guzman, you will recall, was the referee who failed to give a red card to a Columbus defender after Johnson was taken down from behind while on a breakaway towards goal on April 19th. Guzman showed no hesitation to card Johnson after Johnson was fouled by Kelyn Rowe. Johnson appeared to kick out at Rowe while he was on the ground.

Even playing a man down, United very nearly leveled the match in the 89th minute when Cristian’s diving header was swept off the line by a Revolution defender on the post for the corner kick. That was all that United had left on the evening and now they must turn their attention towards their match next Saturday night against Sporting Kansas City at RFK Stadium. The match is at 7pm EST and will be televised on Comcast SportsNet.