A short-handed D.C. United got out to an early two-goal lead, but couldn’t make it stand up, falling 4-3 to the New England Revolution amid torrential rain at Gillette Stadium. Two assists for Edison Flores arguably should have been enough for United to get something from the game, but in the end New England — paced by two goals from Teal Bunbury, and two assists from Tajon Buchanan — overpowered the Black-and-Red.
After an even start, New England began pressing United, pinning them back for long spells while racking up set pieces and corner kicks. Bill Hamid had to come up with a solid early save on a Carles Gil free kick, but otherwise the visitors did well to prevent the pressure from turning into genuine scoring chances.
That defensive resilience proved critical, as United took a 22nd minute lead. A United counter didn’t initially work, but United was able to maintain possession while New England sagged back. Gifted with time and space, Edison Flores picked his head up before scooping a cross to the back post for the late run of Asad, who side-footed a low shot past Matt Turner to hand the Black-and-Red the advantage.
The Revolution were stunned, and just four minutes later United made it 2-0. Griffin Yow won a free kick about 40 yards from goal, and though Asad’s initial service was met by New England first, it skewed off to the right side of the box. Yow, having peeled away from the pack, sprinted onto the loose ball before zipping a low shot past Turner. Henry Kessler’s attempt to prevent a goal wasn’t enough, giving United its first two-goal lead of the entire 2020 season.
That big lead wouldn’t last. A New England long ball saw Russell Canouse, playing center back again due to Frederic Brillant’s suspension, and Adam Buksa in a footrace. Buksa initiated contact, grabbing Canouse’s jersey, and as Canouse fell he tripped up the Polish target man. Referee Dave Gantar pointed to the spot and booked Canouse, but Revolution star Carles Gil sent his penalty kick off of Hamid’s right-hand post.
Unfortunately for United, though, the rebound pinged straight to Buksa, who placed a first-time shot into the empty net to bring New England back within a goal in the 30th minute.
Bruce Arena pushed his chips in at halftime, replacing holding midfielder Scott Caldwell with forward Gustavo Bou and throwing numbers forward. The attacking move paid off in the 54th minute, as New England levelled the score. Buchanan’s cross from the right was probably going to skip past everyone, but in traffic, Canouse slid to try and block it, only for it to carom off of him and into the back of the net.
Hamid had to deny Bou on the hour mark, charging out off his line, and though United sent in fresh legs up front in the form of Gelmin Rivas and Erik Sorga, New England were firmly controlling proceedings. Buchanan was the main threat, and sure enough the Canadian winger notched another assist as the Revolution took a 3-2 lead in the 67th minute.
This time, Buchanan isolated stand-in left back Kevin Paredes, and with United dropping off, Teal Bunbury was left open, and Buchanan picked him out with a low cross that the veteran attacker dispatched with ease.
Stung into action, United began pushing up, and stunningly got back level in the 75th minute. Following a set piece, United got a throw-in, and from there they caught New England napping. The Revolution stood off of Flores once again, and the Peruvian made them pay, this time swinging a cross in from the right to Rivas, who settled before lashing a close-range shot past Turner.
New England protested for a foul elsewhere in the box on Donovan Pines, but Gantar dismissed their claims. For United, getting a third goal represents their best single-game attacking effort on the season.
A wide-open game continued, with McNamara’s early ball behind letting Bou knife between United’s center backs. Canouse couldn’t muscle him off the ball, but Bou could only fire wide, letting United off the hook in the 84th minute.
United’s luck ran out just a minute later, though, as New England re-took the lead. This time, Bou peeled wide, escaping Pines following a simple header forward from the Revolution. Bou crossed in behind the defense for Buksa, who was denied by a wonderful save by Hamid. However, with the Black-and-Red scrambling defensively, the ball fell to Bunbury, who steered the ball through traffic and into the bottom corner.
D.C. made a desperate late push for another equalizer, even sending Hamid up for a last-gasp set piece, but ultimately there were no more goals coming. The defeat ends United’s longest unbeaten run in a year, and leaves them needing to defeat Montreal next Sunday and get some help elsewhere to snatch an unlikely playoff berth.
New England (4231): Matt Turner; DeJuan Jones (Brandon Bye 20), Andrew Farrell, Henry Kessler, Alexander Büttner; Scott Caldwell (Gustavo Bou 46), Tommy McNamara; Tajon Buchanan, Carles Gil (C) (Lee Nguyen 70), Teal Bunbury; Adam Buksa
DCU (442): Bill Hamid; Oniel Fisher, Russell Canouse (C), Donovan Pines, Kevin Paredes; Griffin Yow (Moses Nyeman 71), Junior Moreno, Yamil Asad, Edison Flores; Yordy Reyna (Erik Sorga 58), Ola Kamara (Gelmin Rivas 58)
New England - None
DCU - Asad 14, Canouse 29