Falling behind to a spectacular Juan Agudelo goal in the first half, D.C. United would have to do what they have done all season at RFK Stadium to advance in the playoffs with a win over the New England Revolution. The Chris clan made that possible, as Chris Pontius equalized on the stroke of halftime, setting the stage for Chris Rolfe's late winner.
Rolfe missed a chance to give United the lead early on, and then joined the rest of the stadium in awe of Agudelo's bicycle kick goal in the 15th minute. But United, so accostumed to winning after trailing, got one back from Pontius' header. Rolfe was denied by the post from the penalty spot in the second half, before finishing off a wonderful attacking play from United.
United almost got off to just the flying start to ease the fears of a Columbus hangover, after Chris Rolfe broke through in the 4th minute after a touch from Espindola sent him on his way. A touch past Andrew Farrell opened up a shooting lane, but Bobby Shuttleworth was off his line promptly to cut down the angle, and make the save.
New England had hardly threatened in the opening stanza, before a moment of wonder from Agudelo gave the Revs the lead. The Revs were able to connect a couple of passes through the midfield, allowing Lee Nguyen to pick out Kevin Alston's run down the right. Alston's first time cross was then acrobatically finished by Agudelo with the bicycle kick.
Reeling, United almost conceded again in the 17th minute, with Bill Hamid making two crucial saves on Kelyn Rowe. A turnover from United gifted the Revs the first chance, with Hamid saving with his legs. Moments later though, Nguyen's deflected shot fell to Rowe yards out from goal, but Hamid was there again to make the save.
Espindola missed a guilt edged chance, as Shuttleworth pushed Rolfe's shot into the path of the Argentinian. But Espindola, on his weaker right foot, couldn't redirect his one timed effort on target, with Shuttleworth scrambling to recover.
The teams then traded shots off the woodwork, as again Rolfe worked himself free before hitting the bar, with Jermaine Jones matching the effort at the other end, hitting the bar at his second go from a free kick chipped into the box.
Agudelo just missed giving the Revs the 2-0 lead in the 32nd minute, as Rowe hustled to track down a long ball on a New England counter. The midfielder saw Agudelo in the box and the cross was in his path, but Agudelo skipped his shot just wide of Hamid's goal.
Espindola forced a save out Shuttleworth in the 42nd minute, but a minute later, Espindola turned provider for Pontius' equalizer. After turning Farrell and winning a free kick, Espindola chipped a free kick into the box from the left, where Pontius got open to head home for the 1-1 score on the stroke of halftime.
Both managers made substitutions early in the second half, as neither team found a rhythm early on. Jay Heaps seemed to tactically change his side by bringing in Teal Bunbury for Diego Fagundez, while Ben Olsen's hand was forced as Pontius left with hamstring tightness, replaced by Alvaro Saborio.
A Markus Halsti long ball carved out the first real scoring chance of the second half, as United's Finnish midfielder anticipated Nick DeLeon's run in behind the Revs' defense. DeLeon was able to corral the ball in the box, but his shot skipped wide of the far post.
Espindola had a speculative effort from 40 yards out in the 62nd minute, looking to create havoc with his shooting ability. Espindola's shot had Shuttleworth scrambling, but the keeper was able to recover in time to push the shot wide for a corner, which the Black-and-Red failed to convert.
Rolfe had a chance from the spot in the 75th minute to give United the lead, after Scott Caldwell was called for a handball in the box on a Saborio shot. Rolfe, who converted all four of his attempts in the regular season, beat Shuttleworth, who guessed the right way, but was denied by the post, as the ball went out before United could try to pounce on a rebound.
The opportunity for Rolfe to atone for his miss came in the 83rd minute, and this time, United's leading scorer this year made no mistake in giving United the 2-1 lead. DeLeon gathered the ball out wide, and worked his way into the box, waiting for Espindola to make a looping run around him. A back heel from DeLeon found Espindola, who one timed a cross into the box, where Rolfe lost his marker to slide the shot home for the lead.
New England wasn't to go out with a whimper though, and sustained pressure created chances for an equalizer. But Jones slashed a shot wide at the near post from just inside the box, before Hamid was called in for his heroics in stopping a header from Jones on the doorstep.
Jones then lost his cool in the waning moments of the game, bumping Mark Geiger in trying to argue for a penalty, earning the USA midfielder a second yellow, and his marching orders, as the Black-and-Red were able to see out the rest of the game for a win.