Chris Pontius had a goal and an assist and Bill Hamid made a flurry of stunning saves in the final minutes to help D.C. United preserve a critical 2-1 win over the New England Revolution tonight at RFK Stadium.
The win lifted United (13-10-5 44 points) past the Columbus Crew and into fifth place in the race for the playoffs thanks to their 3-1 loss in New York this evening. The win also drew United just one point from fourth place which is currently occupied by the Houston Dynamo. United has a game in hand on the Dynamo and a draw later this week against Philadelphia would put United ahead of Houston due to the overall goals scored on the season so far. In addition, United has now set a new club record for most consecutive matches without a loss (14) at home. United is 10-1-4 at home this season with their lone loss coming in the season opener against Sporting Kansas City.
New England opened the match much brighter than United and were rewarded with an early lead in the 29th minute. A Nick DeLeon turnover started a lightning counter attack for the Revs as Diego Fagundez bombed towards United’s goal. His pass hit Kelyn Rowe in stride and he unleashed a shot that took an unfortunate deflection off the sliding Chris Korb and over the shoulder of Bill Hamid and off the underside of the crossbar for the 1-0 lead.
United didn’t have to wait long to level the match when in the 32nd minute Branko Boskovic got hold of a loose ball at the midfield stripe and weaved his way towards goal. Chris Pontius made a reverse run behind Boskovic and the Montenegran’s silky back heel hit Pontius in stride and he unleashed a 22-yard rocket that gave Matt Reis no chance and the match was tied at 1-1.
After the break the visitors continued to apply pressure on United’s goal but were left with only a few half-chances before United started to turn the match in their favor. Playing without injured captain Dwayne De Rosario who is lost for the season with an MCL sprain of his left knee, United struggled at times to create clear scoring opportunities. In the 61st minute United should have taken the lead but Matt Reis stoned Maicon Santos’ breakaway attempt and left the 15, 104 fans in attendance in agony.
That agony subsided just two minutes later when Chris Pontius set up Lewis Neal for the game-winning goal. United had won the ball deep along the left sideline and Pontius made his way out towards the top of the penalty area. He spotted Neal and feathered a pass to the Englishman at the top of the penalty arc and his sweeping left-footed shot nestled into the far side netting to send RFK into pandemonium.
United then had to work very hard to stave off a determined Revolution side and a pair of stunning saves for Hamid inside the final five minutes helped to preserve United’s precarious playoff position. Hamid made a reaction save when a deflected clearance hit off the face of Kelyn Rowe and was heading inside the near post. Hamid somehow managed to parry that attempt just wide of the post. Seconds later, Benny Feilheiber was open on the far post and Hamid sprung out towards the U.S. International and again somehow managed to get enough of the shot to send it wide of target.
United now has to turn their attention to an important road match at Philadelphia on Thursday evening. United is currently on a six-game road losing streak and need to garner at least a point to stay firmly in playoff contention.