D.C. United used a strong first half from Lamar Neagle on Saturday night, getting a goal and an assist from the former Seattle Sounders attacker in a 2-0 win over the New England Revolution. United, who had not scored in three straight games across all competitions, got on the board in the 20th minute thanks to Neagle's volley, before he set up Sean Franklin for a close-range finish in the 27th minute.
The win catapulted the Black-and-Red ahead of their rivals in the Eastern Conference, putting United into 5th place. The Black-and-Red have 20 points from 16 games played, while the Revolution fell below the red line and into 7th.
Ben Olsen also sported a new formation for the game, as United trotted out in a 4-1-4-1 to start the game. It was also the first time Fabian Espindola, Luciano Acosta, and Alvaro Saborio started a game together, with Espindola wide left for the night. With Bobby Boswell suspended, Olsen also elected to hand Jalen Robinson his first-ever MLS start.
Espindola and Acosta combined down the left hand flank to create an opening in the 5th minute, the first opportunity of the game for either side. Espindola collected the ball, then skipped around a challenge from Andrew Farrell, before lifting a cross towards the back post. Saborio was there, but could only volley wide of the target.
A minute later, Bill Hamid was called into action, as Daigo Kobayashi tested United's keeper from range. A cross in from the left by defender Chris Tierney was poorly cleared by D.C., with the ball wriggling just out of the box. Kobayashi, the Japanese midfielder, fired a shot first time, forcing Hamid - possibly troubled by the sunlight creeping over the roof at RFK - to palm the shot out for a corner.
In the 10th minute, a brilliant sixty-plus yard through ball from Acosta sprung Saborio on the counter attack, but the striker failed to make the most of a golden opportunity. Espindola quickly played to Acosta as United broke from a Revolution corner, allowing the Argentine to play the ball into space for Saborio. But Saborio dallied on the ball too much, allowing London Woodberry to recover to knock the ball out for a corner.
United's scoreless streak, which had lasted all of three games in all competitions, was over by the 20th minute as Neagle scored his third goal of the season. A throw in in the attacking half by Taylor Kemp was expertly flicked into space by Nick DeLeon. Acosta then picked his head up, and a lofted a ball in towards the back post, where Neagle slammed a thunderous volley home for the 1-0 lead.
After that long scoreless run, it took just seven minutes for United to grab another goal. Saborio expertly held the ball up on the edge of the attacking third, and then slipped a pass through the New England back line for Neagle, who was in full flight on the right wing. Neagle then centered the ball, and Franklin - who had helped move the ball up the field at the start of the move forward - continued his run. The Revolution never once picked that run up, and United's captain for the night applied the finish on the doorstep.
The Revolution had created their share of openings in the first half, if not enough chances to find goals. But a ball down the right flank by Farrell sprung Teal Bunbury free in the 35th minute. In acres of space, Bunbury sent in a promising cross into the goalmouth, but Kofi Opare slid in to block Kei Kamara's effort, allowing United to clear.
Kamara had one more to close out the first half, but was denied a shot on goal by Robinson, making his first career MLS start in defense. A long ball forward took a fortunate bounce for Kamara, allowing him to break into the box just in front of Opare. The forward took aim towards goal, but Robinson scrambled just in front to block the shot away.
New England started off the second half looking to get back into the game, but United survived the Revolution's best punch early in the 50th minute. A spell of possession allowed Lee Nguyen to clip a ball into the box for a teammate. Marcelo Sarvas' sliding clearance bounced off of a New England player, and landed in the path of Nguyen, with just Hamid to beat. Hamid made himself large, smothering the low-angle shot that Nguyen tried to slip underneath the keeper.
In the 58th minute, Neagle came close to adding to his tally on the night, only to be denied by keeper Brad Knighton. With the ball on the right, Neagle cut in towards the middle, before feeding a pass into Saborio. Saborio quickly returned the ball to Neagle at the top of the box, opening up a crowded defense, but Neagle's low shot was denied via Knighton's best save of the evening.
A dangerous cross towards the back post by Acosta looking for Saborio was headed out just in time by Farrell in the 65th minute, before Robinson made a timely sliding block on Kamara's shot from range in the 68th minute. Robinson made yet another block in the 81st minute, as Farrell sent a cross in only for Robinson to cut out the centering pass.
In the dying embers of the game, Nguyen whipped a free kick into the box, but Woodberry could only head weakly towards Hamid. Alhaji Kamara, on as a substitute late in the game, had two chances to make it three for United, but fired the first look over from the penalty spot. Marcelo won the ball back almost immediately from the ensuing goal kick and played Kamara in behind, but his attempt to nutmeg Knighton glanced off the keeper's leg. The ball was briefly loose, but Knighton managed to get a hand on the ball before Kamara could poke it into the empty net.
United start a stretch of four straight games on the road next week, as they travel west to face Real Salt Lake on Friday.