Despite being mostly outplayed for the game’s first hour, D.C. United once again managed to produce a late comeback in a 1-1 draw with the New England Revolution. In the second MLS is Back Tournament match for both clubs, a slow tempo was the story of the first half, before Adam Buksa put the Revs ahead shortly after the break. However, Federico Higuain once again came in off the bench to rescue the Black-and-Red, turning a horrific giveaway at the back into an equalizer.
After moments of high pressure from both teams in the first five minutes, the game settled into a Revolution-centric rhythm. New England had most of the ball, while United dropped off deep and struggled to create counter-attacking looks. United was comfortable enough, but the game’s first serious shot was a thunderbolt from Revolution midfielder Kelyn Rowe in the 25th minute that clipped the crossbar.
That was about it, though, as United largely defended comfortably. A cross from Joseph Mora just barely escaped Julian Gressel at the back post shortly after the hydration break, while Gustavo Bou had a couple of looks just before halftime, but the first half largely betrayed the sapping humidity in central Florida more than anything else.
The Revs nearly broke the deadlock moments into the second half, as Bou charged down the left before picking out Adam Buksa, but Frederic Brillant provided just enough of an intervention to throw off the Polish striker. United then offered up their best attack of the night to that point within a minute, as Edison Flores and Yamil Asad combined to put halftime substitute Ulises Segura into a promising spot. Segura looked to power his angled shot past Matt Turner, but was denied in the 48th minute.
The faster start to the second half continued, and it came with bad news for United in the 51st minute. Cristian Penilla’s shot was blocked by Oniel Fisher — making his first start since September 29, 2018 — but looped up favorably for Buksa, who leapt up to float a header across goal and just inside Bill Hamid’s right-hand post.
Hamid was forced into a wonderful save 10 minutes later, as United threw numbers forward only to be caught out by a counter-attack. Cristian Penilla stayed ahead of the retreating defense for a true breakaway, but Hamid managed to get fingertips to his shot, keeping United within one.
The Black-and-Red needed some help, and they got it from the same source that sparked their comeback against Toronto FC earlier this week. Days after needing four minutes to score off the bench for United, 69th minute substitute Federico Higuain did the job even faster this time. The veteran Argentine pounced on a horrific back pass from Antonio Delamea, who was under virtually no pressure, to round Matt Turner and tuck the ball away in the 72nd minute.
The Revolution looked deflated, and Higuain was prompting United to look for a winner. He and Felipe combined to force a turnover during a D.C. counter-press that eventually became a cross from Chris Odoi-Atsem that skipped dangerously through the goal mouth in the 86th minute. Sadly for DCU, no one could provide a finish.
Both teams made a push for a late winner, but tired legs saw attacks at both ends go awry, leaving the deadlock intact and Group C wide open. Now on 2 points, United will most likely need to avoid defeat (and probably needs a win) in their MLS is Back preliminary round finale against the Montreal Impact, which is set to be played this coming Tuesday, July 21, at 10:30pm Eastern.
MLS is Back Tournament - Group C
D.C. United 1 (Higuain 72)
New England Revolution 1 (Buksa 51)
DCU (4231): Bill Hamid; Oniel Fisher (Chris Odoi-Atsem 73), Frederic Brillant, Steven Birnbaum (C), Joseph Mora; Felipe Martins, Russell Canouse; Julian Gressel (Kevin Paredes 88), Edison Flores (Federico Higuain 69), Yamil Asad; Erik Sorga (Ulises Segura 46)
Revolution (4231): Matt Turner; Brandon Bye, Michael Mancienne (Henry Kessler 46), Antonio Delamea, Alexander Büttner; Scott Caldwell (Teal Bunbury 77), Kelyn Rowe; Gustavo Bou, Carles Gil (C) (Diego Fagundez 62), Cristian Penilla (Tajon Buchanan 90); Adam Buksa (Justin Rennicks 91+)
DCU - Gressel 16, Asad 46+, Brillant 83
Revolution - None