FOXBOROUGH, Mass. – A fast start and lead for the New Revolution was quickly canceled out by D.C. United and the visitors would go on to grab a 2-1 win in a back-and-forth affair on Saturday afternoon in front of 10,389 at Gillette Stadium.
“It was a bright start, but that was about it until the second half,” said head coach Jay Heaps. “We just, the first half I was pretty disappointed in the way we performed. We just couldn’t get a rhythm, couldn’t get our game.”
Colombian Jose Moreno, making his first start for the Revolution, opened the scoring just seven minutes into the game, but D.C.’s Maicon Santos would equalize 12 minutes later. Both sides wasted numerous chances before substitute Chris Pontius scored the game winner.
Moreno’s early goal came after Lee Nguyen played Saer Sene down the left wing. Sene sent in a cross where Moreno was there to volley it past goalkeeper Joe Willis from close range.
D.C. found the equalizer in the 19th minute, but only after Revs ‘keeper Matt Reis had denied them two great opportunities. Off a corner kick, Dwayne De Rosario volleyed a shot towards goal. His effort bounced off the turf and over Ryan Guy, where Santos headed it past Reis.
Despite a surplus of dangerous chances for both sides, it wasn’t until the 82nd minute when D.C. would grab the lead. The Revs failed to deal with a long clearance from Willis and Nick DeLeon headed the ball forward to Chris Pontius. Pontius, one on one with McCarthy, cut inside and curled a shot around Reis to give United the victory.
“We knew [Pontius] was going to go in and be an attacker,” said Heaps. “But, unfortunately we didn’t have enough support for the play and we just need guys at that point – that was the really clear-cut one-on-one situation they had in the game and we just didn’t do well enough on it… I knew that Pontius had the ability to go in. Sometimes you’ve got to be a little bit better as a unit defending so it’s not that one-on-one situation.”
It was always likely to be a tough game for the Revs with captain Shalrie Joseph out due to suspension, but that didn’t stop the home side from taking the early initiative. Still, D.C. threatened first in the 6th minute when Dwayne De Rosario rocketed a shot targeted to the upper corner from about 30 yards. Reis was up to the task, making an acrobatic diving save.
“Obviously Shalrie being out creates a bit of a problem for us,” said Reis. “We missed his ability to control the tempo of the game. I think they just came at us with a little bit of pressure and that kind of disrupted us a bit. We really could’ve used him putting his foot on the ball, but, that being said, we knew he wasn’t going to be there and we didn’t do a very good job of adjusting.”
Just seconds later Moreno would give the Revs the early lead and again looked to keep the shutout in the 13th minute with a fantastic save. This time the veteran ‘keeper tipped wide a shot from Danny Cruz that was targeted for just inside the near post from about 25 yards.
Some poor marking in the box allowed D.C. to grab the equalizer in the 19th minute through Santos, but the Revs were quick to get on the attack to try to pull back the lead.
“[D.C.] have a few special players and they rely on them to make special plays and as they did on both goals really,” said Clyde Simms, who had played his entire MLS career with D.C. before joining the Revs this season. “I thought it was always going to be a battle. We were a little unfortunate today.”
Chris Tierney nearly found the back of the net for the Revs in the 28th minute when Nguyen earned a dangerous free kick just outside the box. Tierney curled an effort that was just tipped by Willis and denied by the post.
“I thought [Willis] was tucked in a little too far,” said Tierney. “Usually I just place that one over the wall, but I thought he was too far behind his wall so I was just trying to slot it.”
Six minutes later it was Tierney again with a free kick free from a similar spot. This time Tierney’s effort was just wide and into the side netting.
The Revs had another “nearly” moment in the 40th minute when Kevin Alston found Moreno at the far post with a cross from the right flank. Moreno sent it back to Nguyen at the top of the six yard box where the creative midfielder took a touch before sending a shot just wide of the far post.
Nine minutes after halftime Sene was denied by Willis after being played behind the defense by Tierney. Sene’s effort was pushed out by Willis to Moreno, who attempted a bicycle kick, but his shot sailed high of the net.
Benny Feilhaber made his return from injury in the 55th minute after missing the Revs last three games. The U.S. International entered Lee Nguyen, who according to Heaps had a fever before the game.
“Unfortunately, we wanted Lee (Nguyen) to go – we didn’t want to have to make the sub from that standpoint,” said Heaps. “I grabbed Lee and hugged him. I’ve never seen a player take an IV like he did and want to play.”
For Feilhaber, it was a good opportunity to start getting some match fitness after a long stretch away from the pitch.
“I was pretty tired,” said Feilhaber. “I’m still getting my game fitness back, but from an injury perspective it was really good – my ankle felt good.”
Moreno turned provider in the 70th minute finding Guy, who sent a quick cross into the path of Sene. Sene’s header was easily saved by Willis. It was the third time poor placement on a shot by Sene would leave Willis with an easy save.
With 11 minutes remaining, Bjorn Runstrom made his debut as a substitute for Moreno, but could only watch just seconds later as Pontius gave D.C. the lead. Heaps was quick to then bring on Fernando Cardenas for Kevin Alston and switch to an attacking 3-5-2, but despite the added pressure the Revs were unable to find a late equalizer.
New England (2-4-0, 6 points) has two weeks off before heading to New York to face the Red Bulls on April 28.