It was a classic tale of two halves at Audi Field tonight, as D.C. United fell down 2-0 in a dreadful first half before coming back to snag a 2-2 draw against the New England Revolution. Teal Bunbury and Carles Gil put the visitors out in front before halftime, but Leonardo Jara and Quincy Amarikwa both scored their first goals for United, with Amarikwa’s 86th minute volley giving the Black-and-Red a share of the points.
Before fans could even really get settled, the Revolution took the lead. It was simple stuff: a long ball from Jalil Anibaba found striker Juan Fernando Caicedo who flicked the ball over United’s back three. Teal Bunbury slashed in from the right wing, racing past Steven Birnbaum before firing a low shot across Bill Hamid that nestled into the bottom corner in the 4th minute.
The goal did nothing to wake up a dismal D.C., who needed an excellent Hamid save in the 18th minute to keep the scoreline from getting worse. Luis Caicedo’s low shot from 23 yards clipped a United player on the way in, wrong-footing Hamid. Just before the ball bobbled over the line, though, Hamid fought against his momentum, using his left hand to slap the ball off the post and away from danger.
United had a couple of modest sorties forward, but fell behind in the 32nd minute nonetheless. Once again, it was extraordinarily easy for the visitors. Matt Turner’s punt upfield seemed to be easy pickings for Birnbaum, but the center back uncharacteristically got his header all wrong, sending it backward. As a result, Bunbury had time and space to cross from the right, picking out Juan Agudelo open at the back post. Agudelo’s close-range header was blocked awkwardly by Hamid, and a sloppy recovery by United’s defense left Revs captain Carles Gil totally unmarked to deposit the loose ball.
Finally, out of nothing, United’s first substantial attack allowed them to pull a goal back in the 43rd minute. Paul Arriola muscled past Luis Caicedo in the midfield before going out wide. Under pressure from Brandon Bye, Arriola hooked a hopeful cross to the back post. Somehow, Jara found himself running onto the ball wide open at the back post, and the Argentine’s first-time bid had enough power to get past Turner, who really should have done better than to push the ball into the roof of the net. For Jara, the goal was his first since his arrival on loan from Boca Juniors this past offseason.
United came out with new-found energy to start the second half, with Lucas Rodriguez, Wayne Rooney, and Arriola all going close before the hour mark. Shortly after that though, the game took a major turn. Wilfried Zahibo, booked in the 49th minute for a foul on Russell Canouse, hacked down Rodriguez at midfield in the 63rd minute. Referee Ted Unkel had no hesitation, showing the Frenchman his second booking and sending him off.
Rooney was having a quiet game, but should have scored an equalizer in the 70th minute. Jara’s pass up the right wing found Arriola, and the USMNT winger’s low ball into the box somehow evaded Andrew Farrell. From 7 yards, Rooney is usually deadly, but this time he contrived to put the ball over the crossbar.
United still had some shaky moments despite the advantage, with Pines having to make a last-ditch tackle on Bunbury to prevent a sure goal, and Ben Olsen threw caution to the wind as a response. First he brought Ulises Segura on for center back Frederic Brillant, and then added another attacker for a defender with a swap of Joseph Mora for Amarikwa.
That last sub ended up being critical. A Rooney free kick from just inside the New England half was placed perfectly, and Jara’s passive stance offside appeared to fool the Revolution. Amarikwa, totally unmarked, charged in and produced a typically acrobatic volley, thumping the ball past Turner for his first goal in a D.C. shirt.
United seemed to have a winner coming in the 93rd minute, as Rooney teed Rodriguez up inside the box, but his shot was partially blocked by Farrell. Despite intense pressure, though, they couldn’t produce a dramatic winner, settling for their sixth draw in nine games.
United are back in action next Thursday, July 18, as they face expansion side FC Cincinnati for the first time ever. Highlights will be added when made available.
MLS Regular Season (Game 21)
D.C. United 2 (Jara 43, Amarikwa 86)
New England Revolution 2 (Bunbury 4, Gil 32)
DCU (343): Bill Hamid; Frederic Brillant (Ulises Segura 78), Donovan Pines, Steven Birnbaum; Leonardo Jara, Russell Canouse, Junior Moreno, Joseph Mora (Quincy Amarikwa 82); Paul Arriola, Wayne Rooney (C), Lucas Rodriguez
Revs (4231): Matt Turner; Brandon Bye, Andrew Farrell, Jalil Anibaba, Edgar Castillo; Luis Caicedo, Wilfried Zahibo; Teal Bunbury, Carles Gil (C) (Diego Fagundez 91+), Juan Agudelo (Scott Caldwell 87); Juan Fernando Caicedo (DeJuan Jones 61)
DCU - Jara 37, Arriola 41, Birnbaum 67
Revs - J. Caicedo 23, Zahibo 49, Zahibo 63 (sent off), L. Caicedo 81, Turner 84