D.C. United couldn’t have asked for a worse start in either half against the New England Revolution on Saturday evening. United conceded in the 5th and 48th minutes, but thanks to first half goals from Jared Jeffrey and Sebastien Le Toux, the Black-and-Red got out of Gillette Stadium with a point in an eventful 2-2 draw with the Revolution.
Lee Nguyen opened the scoring for the Revolution in the 5th minute, against a much different starting 11 for United than the team that lost 2-0 to the New York Red Bulls last weekend. Then came two goals in two minutes from United in the first half, before Juan Agudelo (or perhaps an own goal from Sean Franklin?) provided the final tally in the 48th minute.
With Nick DeLeon, Patrick Nyarko, Steve Birnbaum, and Patrick Mullins all out injured to various degrees, Olsen was forced into five changes from the team that disappointed on the road against the Red Bulls. With Taylor Kemp (illness) and Luciano Acosta (ankle) on the bench, Maxim Tissot, Kofi Opare, Marcelo Sarvas, Lamar Neagle, and Le Toux were in the starting lineup. Tissot was making his Black-and-Red debut, while Opare, Neagle, and Le Toux were making their first starts this season.
Proceedings couldn’t not have gotten off to a worse start for United, as Nguyen gave the Revs the lead before five minutes were on the clock. A counter attack from New England was poorly defended by United, and Kei Kamara ended up with the ball out on the right. Nguyen was free with his run at the far post, and an inch-perfect cross allowed him to bounce a header past Bill Hamid for the 1-0 lead.
The Revs were still on top of the game in the 14th minute, but Ian Harkes came within inches of leveling the score. A corner from Lloyd Sam was only cleared to the top of the box. The ball then fell to Harkes, who one-timed a shot towards goal. Curving and bouncing, the shot beat Revs’ keeper Cody Cropper and got through traffic, but smashed off of the post, allowing the Revolution a chance to clear.
Kamara had an opportunity two minutes later to double New England’s lead from a corner kick. With the roles reversed, Nguyen whipped a corner kick into the box that found the towering Kamara. With Kofi Opare defending, Kamara got his header on frame, but a quick shuffle of the feet from Hamid allowed the keeper to stretch to push the shot away.
Diego Fagundez made his mark in the 24th minute, with a surging run through midfield. With no one from United closing him down defensively, Fagundez lashed a shot on goal that Hamid pushed away. The rebound fell to Kamara, and though it was a difficult chance, the striker sliced the ball away from goal. With Hamid not yet off the ground from the initial save, it counted as good luck for United.
The game was then turned on its head with a two minute salvo from United. Jeffrey got the first for United in the 26th minute, thanks to a less than stellar defensive clearance from the Revolution. Harkes’ initial free kick wasn’t cleared, and a second cross into the box from Marcelo was headed towards the top of the box. Jeffrey was all alone, and smashed home a full volley that beat Cropper to level the scores.
That score didn’t last but two minutes, with Le Toux scoring his first goal for the Black-and-Red in the 28th minute. A well placed pass from Sam eluded left back Kelyn Rowe, and drew Cropper out of his goal. Le Toux beat Cropper to the ball, and lifted a delicate shot over the keeper, which had just enough speed to dribble into the goal, with a defender chasing down the shot but unable to make a difference.
The chances kept coming for United to end the half, but through some great goalkeeping and the woodwork, United remained stuck on two goals. In the 37th minute, Tissot crossed a free kick into the box that was knocked out. The ball fell to Sean Franklin, who set himself up before firing a goalbound shot from nearly 30 yards. Cropper was at full stretch and did enough to force the ball out from a corner.
That resulting corner was taken by Sam, and sent right in front of goal. Opare won the battle against his defender, heading what looked sure to be a third for United. But once again Cropper saved the Revs, pushing the ball out to prevent a goal.
And in the 40th minute, Harkes was once again denied by the woodwork. A chipped free kick into the box found the young midfielder, who guided a header towards the goal. Cropper was beat this time, but the ball clipped the crossbar instead, and the Revolution were able to eventually clear the danger.
Those chances that just weren’t quite goals came back to hurt United right away in the second half. A corner in the 48th minute was sent to the back post, where center back Antonio Delamea headed the ball back towards the middle of the box. Agudelo got a touch, sending the ball towards goal, and beating Hamid. The official ruling was that Franklin was charged with an own goal, though Agudelo had every right to claim the goal as his own. Replays were inconclusive.
Moments later, United had a penalty shout, as Sam slashed in on goal from the right. Collecting a pass from Jeffrey in the box, Sam was lining up a shot before he appeared to be taken down by Rowe. But there was no call from referee Jose Carlos Rivero, and there were few arguments from United players as well.
At that point, the game finally settled down to a point, with neither team creating much for the next 10 minutes. But it was Fagundez, trying to make things happen on his own, who forced a save out of Hamid in the 59th minute. Making his way down the left, Fagundez got into the box and tried to beat Hamid to the near post. Hamid - who has conceded a few goals at the near post this season - was able to get down quickly enough to smother the shot.
Two minutes later, and United were once again denied a goal, this time from Neagle. At the near post, Neagle won a header from a corner from Sam. Neagle’s effort was destined for the back of the net. Nguyen, stationed on the line, was able to head the ball off the crossbar, and United couldn’t reach the resulting loose ball.
In the 73rd minute, Kamara got isolated in the box against Opare, looking to find a channel to get a shot on goal. Eventually, that opportunity came, and Kamara’s well-placed blast was parried out by Hamid for a corner kick.
The winning goal should have come in the 81st minute, by either Kamara, or Teal Bunbury, who came on as a substitute six minutes earlier. A great cross from Chris Tierney - a second half substitute himself - tempted Hamid off of his line. But with enough pace on the cross, Hamid was beaten to the ball by Kamara, who guided a header onto the post. With Hamid out of the picture, the ball fell to Bunbury at the other side of the goal. The goal was wide open, but Bunbury’s awkward swing at the ball barely counted as a shot, and United escaped.
Both teams pushed late on for a winner, with Olsen bringing on Acosta late in the game. But the best chance fell to Daigo Kobayashi in second half stoppage time. Just moments after coming into the game, Kobayashi used a clever first touch to open up a shooting angle and took aim at goal, but had hit shot blocked out for a corner, which New England could not capitalize on.
United, with eight points from seven games, head to Georgia next weekend, to play Atlanta United FC for the first time.