D.C. United and the New England Revolution appeared destined for a scoreless draw, only for two very late goals for the visitors to hand the Black-and-Red a 2-0 home loss. Gustavo Bou and Adam Buksa provided the goals for the Revolution, while United meekly fell to their fourth home loss of 2020.
Facing a congested schedule, and perhaps looking for a spark after a poor 1-0 loss midweek at Nashville SC, Ben Olsen made four changes to his starting eleven. One, with Chris Odoi-Atsem coming in for Oniel Fisher at right back, was normal player rotation. The others — Moses Nyeman getting his first MLS start, Griffin Yow over big offseason acquisition Julian Gressel, and new acquisition Yordy Reyna going right into the starting lineup just days after clearing quarantine — were more remarkable.
Despite the normally direct Revolution having an uncharacteristically high share of possession, it was United getting more of the early shots, though in truth neither team gave the goalkeepers much to worry about in the opening 30 minutes. Matt Turner had to make stops on Yow and Reyna, but both were routine. Bill Hamid, meanwhile, didn’t have to make a save until the 36th minute, on the bobbling aftermath of a New England free kick.
With both teams cancelling each other out, the first half’s most notable incident was a scary-looking injury for New England midfielder Matt Polster. Attempting to slide in to stop a United counter, Polster missed the ball, but as his momentum carried him past Reyna’s legs, he caught Reyna’s heel in the face. After nearly five full minutes of treatment, trainers helped him off the field, with Tommy McNamara replacing him.
The same patterns carried over after halftime, though United were able to have more of the ball. A bizarre sequence that began with a bad throw by Turner in the 56th minute eventually became some danger, as Nyeman broke two New England lines with an insightful through ball. Kamara appeared poised to strike, but Andrew Farrell produced a stellar tackle at the last moment.
At the other end, New England finally carved out a real chance in the 63rd minute, with Teal Bunbury beating three D.C. defenders on the dribble to open up a dream shooting opportunity. It felt like a sure goal, but Bunbury ended up guiding the ball wide of the post, sparing United.
Both teams turned to their benches, with five subs entering the game in a five-minute span, but neither team was able to find a spark that resulted in a true spell of control. The Revs came closer, with Frederic Brillant coming up with two key blocks after Bunbury cut into the left side of the box, but for the most part the game fell into a midfield stalemate.
Chances remained at a premium, but just as the game threatened to drift to a scoreless draw, New England struck. Substitute Cristian Penilla drew defenders to him on the right wing before chopping a square ball to Gustavo Bou, who checked his run to lose retreating United defenders. Wide open, the Revs captain calmly sized up his opening before firing past Hamid in the 86th minute.
Things went from bad to worse for United in the 90th minute. After Olsen moved center back Steven Birnbaum up top as an auxiliary forward, New England cleared away a service, and suddenly found themselves with a 2-on-2 and plenty of room to work with. Penilla had the assist again, waiting until he was closed down before rolling a pass to fellow substitute Adam Buksa, who had all the time in the world to dink a shot over Hamid and in, sinking any hopes of a United comeback
Still stuck at the bottom of the Eastern Conference, United will look to right the ship in six days when they host Atlanta United on October 3.
MLS Regular Season - Game 14
D.C. United 0
New England Revolution 2 (Bou 86, Buksa 90)
DCU (4231): Bill Hamid; Chris Odoi-Atsem, Frederic Brillant, Steven Birnbaum (C), Joseph Mora (Oniel Fisher 81); Junior Moreno, Moses Nyeman; Griffin Yow (Julian Gressel 73), Yordy Reyna (Federico Higuain 68), Yamil Asad (Gelmin Rivas 81); Ola Kamara (Erik Sorga 68)
New England (4231): Matt Turner; Brandon Bye, Andrew Farrell, Henry Kessler, DeJuan Jones; Matt Polster (Tommy McNamara 46+), Scott Caldwell; Tajon Buchanan (Cristian Penilla 67), Lee Nguyen (Diego Fagundez 67), Teal Bunbury (Adam Buksa 79); Gustavo Bou (C)
DCU - Brillant 50+, Mora 50, Moreno 81
New England - Buksa 91+