For at least the next three weeks, a new team will be sitting in first place in the Eastern Conference, as DC United took down the New England Revolution 3-2 tonight at RFK Stadium. The win moves DC a point ahead of New York and, with MLS taking a break until June 16, DC fans will have the chance to enjoy reading the standings for the time being.
The game started well for the home team as they dictated the pace of the game and took advantage of their opportunities. DC clamped down on New England in the midfield in the first half. While Saer Sene was the only threat at forward for the Revs in the first half, the visitors failed to find him in space multiple times and thus had few real goal scoring opportunities. Their best chance was in the 38th minute when they did find him on the right and, after he had a step on Daniel Woolard, unleashed a shot that Bill Hamid did a good job blocking with his left leg.
The story of the half however was DC’s excellence on set pieces. In the 15th minute, Branko Boskovic’s free kick in the New England half found a poorly marked Brandon McDonald in the box. The colorfully haired defender leaped over his man and headed the ball top shelf to give the home team an early lead. In first half stoppage time, a DC corner kick bounced around in the box before Dejan Jakovic controlled it long enough to slide a shot into the net, sending DC into the locker room with the momentum.
Early in the second half, however, the Revolution woke up and reminded the 14,000 plus at RFK that this was not the 2011 Revolution. Before some could settle back into their seats, Bill Hamid had to deflect a Benny Feilhaber blast that landed right on the foot of an unmarked Sene, who finished coolly to draw the visitors within one. Two minutes later, New England gave DC a taste of its own medicine as defender A.J. Soares headed a corner kick into the net to equalize the game. The difference came down to a late first half substitution, where an injured Ryan Guy was replaced by Fernando Cardenas. The move forced Feilhaber to play more in the middle and the speedy Cardenas ran the DC midfield ragged.
However, it was a Ben Olsen substitution that made the difference in this game. In the 57th minute, Maicon Santos came on for Branko Boskovic, who had an assist and generally had played well. Four minutes later, Dwayne De Rosario made a few smooth moves in the box and centered to a charging Santos, who blasted the ball past Matt Reis for the final goal. For the next thirty minutes, both teams had good chances but for the most part DC was able to kill the game in the midfield, mainly by bringing on Lewis Neal, then Josh Wolff. DC had a great chance to put the game away in the 70th minute when De Rosario found some space in front of the net but fell and lost the ball. At the time the play looked like it was a trip by the defense, but Kevin Stott waived play on. Then in the final minute of regulation, New England sub Kelyn Rowe got a greater header on net, only to have it just knocked over the net by Hamid.
Twice these teams could have played to a draw but twice DC did just enough to win hard fought games. That is the reason why as of May 26 DC United is in first and New England is in seventh. While these teams will meet one more time on September 15, the league would be lucky to see this as a playoff match-up come this fall.