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D.C. United’s good start goes up in smoke in 3-2 loss at New England Revolution

United was strong early, but the Revs stormed back in the second half to hand DCU a second straight loss

MLS: D.C. United at New England Revolution Winslow Townson-USA TODAY Sports

D.C. United saw a strong start dissolve as the New England Revolution came back to take a 3-1 decision at Gillette Stadium tonight. Despite an early Paul Arriola goal and multiple first half chances, United were undone in the second half on goals from Tommy McNamara, Tajon Buchanan, and DeJuan Jones. The loss extended United’s winless run against the Revolution, which dates back to 2018, to eight games.

Dealing with a rough patch of three games in seven days, Hernán Losada rotated more heavily than he has in his tenure with United. Six starters from Sunday’s 5-2 loss against Nashville SC were shifted to the bench, with Edison Flores getting his first start since May 23. Griffin Yow and Chris Odoi-Atsem made their first starts of 2021, while Andy Najar was once again left out entirely.

The teams traded some half-chances early, before United took a 10th minute lead via some work from its two Designated Players. Paul Arriola surprised Maciel, forcing a turnover at midfield and prodding the ball to Flores. From there, the duo ran a textbook two-on-two break, with Flores waiting for the defense to commit to him before splitting the defense with a pass off the outside of his foot. Arriola held off Andrew Farrell before sliding the ball past Matt Turner for his third goal of the season.

The goal proved costly, though, as Arriola pulled up after taking his shot, with the celebrations turning to a call for the training staff. Within four minutes, his night was over, as Yordy Reyna stepped in up top.

Flores nearly set his new partner up front with a sneaky bending ball in behind, but Reyna had to reach out for it, reducing his power and allowing Turner to make the stop. At the other end, Jon Kempin finally had a save, but Teal Bunbury’s 21st minute effort was easy work.

Despite United having the better of things, with Yow and Reyna both having decent looks as United repeatedly caught the Revs in transition, New England were still a threat. Arnór Traustason wasted a free header in the 31st minute, while a similar sequence later in the half saw Bunbury cushion a header down when he could have gone to goal.

Bruce Arena had seen enough, making a triple substitution to bring two top New England attackers (Tajon Buchanan and Adam Buksa) and an ex-DCU man in Ema Boateng in at halftime. The moves jarred something loose, as the Revolution equalized in the 49th minute. Boateng fizzed a cross in from the left, and while United could get the ball out of immediate danger, the clearance only fell to the top of the box where Tommy McNamara hammered a 24-yarder past Kempin and into the upper corner.

Yow nearly had an instant reply after out-foxing DeJuan Jones inside the box, but Turner did just enough to slap his 50th minute shot away. Unfortunately for United, New England’s next thrust forward made it 2-1 to the home side. A turnover from Felipe at midfield, just as United began committing numbers forward, saw the Revolution with acres of space to work with. Boateng sprinted away on the left again, crossing to the back post for Buchanan, who was open to volley past Kempin.

Kempin had to charge out early to deny Buksa after a New England counter from a United corner gave the target man a clear run at goal. United brought Julian Gressel and Ramón Ábila in to spark the attack, but Frédéric Brillant had to clear off the line just moments later as Buksa beat Birnbaum to yet another Boateng cross.

The game was coming to life: United, just seconds later, had Reyna’s shot barely tipped over the bar by Turner, but better news was coming. Traustason picked up a second yellow card for a foul on Asad, reducing New England to ten men.

United brought top scorer Ola Kamara in to chase a goal, but another Revolution counter eventually put the game to bed. United repelled the initial burst, but let Buchanan get another look. Brillant blocked his cross, but with multiple D.C. players in a spot to clear, no one did, and DeJuan Jones side-footed into the bottom corner in the 85th minute.

United sought a miracle comeback, with Kamara and Reyna both going very close in stoppage time, but despite a thunderbolt from Ábila in the sixth minute of stoppage time to pull one back, the deficit was too much to overcome.

The loss leaves United (8W-3D-9L, 27 points) in 6th place, pending results from around the league tonight. They’ll look to right the ship Saturday, August 21, as they host Atlanta United. Kickoff is set for 8:00pm.

Box Score

MLS Regular Season - Game 20
New England Revolution 3 (McNamara 49, Buchanan 53, Jones 85)
D.C. United 1 (Arriola 10, Ábila 96+)

New England (442): Matt Turner; AJ DeLaGarza, Andrew Farrell, Henry Kessler, DeJuan Jones; Tommy McNamara, Wilfrid Kaptoum (Emmanuel Boateng 46, Christian Mafla 90), Macie. (Tajon Buchanan 46), Arnór Traustason; Gustavo Bou (C) (Scott Caldwell 75), Teal Bunbury (Adam Buksa 46)

DCU (352): Jon Kempin; Chris Odoi-Atsem, Frédéric Brillant (C), Steven Birnbaum; Griffin Yow (Julian Gressel 67), Yamil Asad (Ola Kamara 77), Felipe Martins, Drew Skundrich, Joseph Mora; Edison Flores (Ramón Ábila 67), Paul Arriola (Yordy Reyna 14)

New England - Traustason 33, Kaptoum 43, DeLaGarza 60, Traustason 72 (sent off)
DCU - Asad 32, Birnbaum 78