For an hour, it looked like D.C. United was ready to post a statement win over the New England Revolution, but two goals in three minutes for the Supporters Shield leaders handed the Black-and-Red a 3-2 defeat instead. Nigel Robertha game United a second half lead, but goals from all three Revolution Designated Players condemned the home side to their first home loss in two months.
Facing yet another mid-week match, Hernán Losada made four changes to the side that settled for a 0-0 draw with Nashville SC on the weekend. Chris Odoi-Atsem, Felipe Martins, Joseph Mora, and Drew Skundrich came into the lineup for Andy Najar (who was not in uniform), Junior Moreno, Kevin Paredes, and Adrien Perez.
Ola Kamara forced Matt Turner into a difficult save in the 2nd minute as United, despite facing a full strength Revolution with a rotated lineup, made a typically aggressive start. Skundrich had a close-range shot blocked just wide in the 11th minute, while Kamara stripped Andrew Farrell of the ball midway through the half only for the Revolution center back to recover and prevent a shot.
United’s shots piled up: Nigel Robertha cut inside of Farrell to shoot, only for Turner to get his fingertips to it, while Russell Canouse latched onto a loose ball 14 yards out in the 37th minute and seemed destined to score, but his shot glanced off of DeJuan Jones just enough to send it right to Turner. Robertha and Kamara both had glancing shots just before halftime on crosses from the right, but Robertha’s was right at Turner, while Kamara’s slipped just barely wide.
At the other end, Bill Hamid’s only test was an Adam Buksa one-timer in the 26th minute. Hamid seemed sure to be heading off at halftime with what appeared to be a hamstring injury, but despite Jon Kempin warming up extensively, he opted to stay in.
That was good news, but better news came in the 51st minute, as United caught the Revolution on the counter to take the lead. Skundrich lead the rush, getting to the edge of the box before slipping Kamara through. Kamara’s shot beat Turner but slapped off the post, but just as Audi Field groaned in frustration, Robertha arrived to hammer home the rebound for his fourth goal of the season.
United came inches from making it two in the 53rd minute on a very similar break, with Gressel playing provider for Kamara, only for Turner to get a hand down in time to make the save. Donovan Pines then sent a free header from the resulting corner right at Turner.
The Black-and-Red had given the Revs virtually nothing, but New England got a fortuitous 61st minute equalizer. A spell of possession ended with the ball at Tommy McNamara’s feet, and the veteran looked to cross. His service clipped Joseph Mora on the way in, spinning unluckily into the path of Adam Buksa, who dispatched a clinical header into the bottom corner from eight yards.
New England would suddenly take the lead just three minutes later on a goal that was all Carles Gil. The MVP candidate got on the ball at the top of the box and shook off three defenders with cutbacks before curling an unstoppable low shot past Hamid to make it 2-1.
United responded with attacking subs in the form of Kevin Paredes and Adrien Perez, but New England nearly snatched a third, with Tajon Buchanan heading off the bar in the 78th minute.
The danger hadn’t subsided for DCU, and New England put the game to bed in the 79th minute. McNamara intercepted a clearance and was allowed to carry the ball into the box, where he found Buksa. Before United could get a foot in, Buksa back-heeled for Gustavo Bou, who steered a shot past a screened Hamid to make it 3-1.
United made a concerted push to equalize, with substitutes Paredes and Ramón Ábila connecting in the third minute of stoppage time. Robertha moved the ball wide left to Paredes, who had plenty of time to pick out a hard run from Ábila, and the mid-season acquisition made no mistake with a bullet header from nine yards.
United threw the kitchen sink at New England to produce a stunning equalizer, but were foiled by some desperate defending from the visitors, who hung on just long enough to finish the match off.
The loss leaves United (12W-5D-13L, 41 points) in a precarious position, with results around the East tonight making it possible for the Black-and-Red to end the night anywhere between 6th and 8th place. There’s no let-up in the schedule either, as a trip to Yankee Stadium to take on fellow playoff hopeful NYCFC looms this Saturday evening.
MLS Regular Season - Game 30
D.C. United 2 (Robertha 51, Ábila 93+)
New England Revolution 3 (Buksa 61, Gil 64, Bou 79)
DCU (352): Bill Hamid; Chris Odoi-Atsem (Tony Alfaro 81), Steven Birnbaum (C), Donovan Pines; Julian Gressel, Russell Canouse (Junior Moreno 73), Felipe Martins, Drew Skundrich (Adrien Perez 68), Joseph Mora (Kevin Paredes 67); Ola Kamara (Ramón Ábila 81), Nigel Robertha
New England (4312): Matt Turner; Brandon Bye, Andrew Farrell, Henry Kessler, DeJuan Jones; Tajon Buchanan (Arnór Traustason 80), Matt Polster (Luis Caicedo 46), Tommy McNamara (Scott Caldwell 89); Carles Gil (C) (Emmanuel Boateng 86); Adam Buksa, Gustavo Bou (Teal Bunbury 86)
DCU - Felipe 17
New England - Polster 42