Luciano Acosta remained on fire for D.C. United, who capped off a perfect week with a 2-0 win over the New England Revolution. Having already beaten Orlando City and the Portland Timbers at home in the past eight days, United took a vital three points against the Revs, the team directly in front of them in the playoff standings.
Acosta netted his fifth goal in the 13th minute, and substitute Zoltan Stieber wrapped up the scoring in the 89th minute for the Black-and-Red. Scott Caldwell was sent off for New England in the 73rd minute, whose lead over eighth-place United is now just 2 points. United also picked up their second shutout of the season, the first coming back in April, in a 1-0 win over the Columbus Crew.
Days after their demolition of the Portland Timbers, head coach Ben Olsen kept the same starting 11 against the Revolution. It was the fifth consecutive start for Wayne Rooney, who would go on to play 266 of the 270 minutes United played this week.
New England came out of the gates the better side, and nearly had a goal with the first chance in the first minute. Diego Fagundez got the ball into the box, with an option to shoot or pass to Teal Bunbury. The midfielder elected the passing option, but a mis-hit allowed Bill Hamid to grab the ball.
Michael Mancienne was handed a start in the center of defense by Brad Friedel in his debut for the Revs, and the English defender was saved by his goalkeeper from an embarrassing own goal in the 9th minute. A free kick from Rooney was headed back towards goal by Steven Birnbaum. Mancienne tried to clear, but sent the ball towards his own goal, forcing a save from Matt Turner.
There was a follow-up attempt for Russell Canouse, but Turner once again saved New England, and a scramble in front of goal was eventually cleared away.
Acosta’s recent run of form continued in the 13th minute, as the Argentine netted his fifth goal of the season, and fourth in the last eight days. Acosta played a free kick from the left flank across field to Paul Arriola, who was wide open. Arriola skipped around Brandon Bye, and sent a ball across the face of goal. The Revs couldn’t clear, and Acosta raced onto the ball, slamming a shot past Turner.
An awkward moment nearly netted United a second goal in the 18th minute. A free kick from Rooney was punched out by Turner, but only as far as Acosta at the top of the box. Acosta bounced a shot back towards goal that somehow got past Turner and Bye. Canouse went to apply the finishing touch in front of an empty goal, but Andrew Farrell raced across to clear the danger.
Rooney nearly scored a goal similar to the one he scored against Portland in the 27th minute, only to drag his effort wide. Yamil Asad won possession in midfield, and Acosta quickly found United’s striker. Rooney worked into the box and fired with his weaker foot, but the shot skipped harmlessly wide at the far post.
Farrell fired over for the Revs in the 32nd minute, before United went close twice to adding to their lead. A cross from Fisher for Asad was just cut out in front of goal by Farrell in the 35th minute. Then a quick throw-in from the Black-and-Red a minute later got Asad on the ball on the box, who found Arriola with a pass. Arriola didn’t have a great angle for a shot, and sliced the ball just over the bar.
United had been the better side throughout much of the first half, but had just the one goal lead to show for as the teams went in for the break.
In the 50th minute, Rooney played a ball down the middle of the field for Arriola, who had plenty of space to run onto the ball near the top of the box. Turner was quick off his line though, and beat the U.S. international to the ball, clearing away the danger.
Cristian Penilla helped create an opening for Bunbury in the 51st minute, as a turnover in midfield opened up United’s back line. Bunbury picked the ball up in the box, as the Revs’ leading scorer this season looked to turn provider, but found no one with his cross.
Miscommunication from Acosta and Rooney wasted a chance in the 52nd minute, after a surging run from Arriola. The midfielder made his way towards goal, and then played towards the corner of the box. But Acosta and Rooney arrived at the same place at the same time, which resulted in an awkward chipped attempt from Rooney that didn’t test Turner.
In the 55th minute, Fagundez got the ball from a cross-field switch and found himself unmarked in the box with just Hamid to beat. Fagundez fired a rocket towards the near post that Hamid couldn’t get a touch to, but it ricocheted off the woodwork, denying the Revs an equalizer.
Stieber came on for Arriola in the 60th minute, and had a chance to make it two in the 65th minute, but fired an effort wide of the goal after build-up from Rooney and Junior Moreno.
Caldwell was then sent off in the 73rd minute, as he picked up a second yellow card for a late challenge on Moreno. Despite the protests of the Revolution, referee Ted Unkel — who had booked him in the 56th minute for persistent infringement — went to his back pocket. Caldwell exited the match having committed 6 fouls, the most on either team.
Rooney had two chances to get his goal late on, only to miss the mark on both occasions. Played in behind the defense by Acosta in the 86th minute, Rooney raced towards goal, shadowed by Farrell. The defender might have just put Rooney off just enough, as he fired over the onrushing Turner, but over the goal as well. Rooney then sent a free kick inches wide in the 89th minute.
The clinching goal finally came in the 89th minute, as Moreno pumped the ball into space for Stieber. Darren Mattocks, who had just come as a substitute for Acosta, provided a passing option for the Hungarian, but Stieber went at it alone, firing past Turner at the near post to provide the final score line.
United, with 27 points from 22 games, faces Atlantic Cup rivals, the New York Red Bulls, next Sunday at Red Bull Arena.