WASHINGTON, April 6, 2014 — D.C. United snapped a 16-game winless streak going back to last August, with a 2-0 win against the New England Revolution on Saturday night at RFK Stadium. The first goal was a gift from the visitors, while the second came from a player who had only joined the team on Thursday. Despite an evenly played game, in which United managed just two shots on goal, and those coming very late, United looked like a better team and deserved the points.
United had trouble all night penetrating the Revolution’s stubborn backline but after a nice sequence of passes, took a goal into the locker room at the break when left-footed New England defender Jose Gonclaves, deflected Cristian Fernandez’s cross past his own goalie, to give the home side an unexpected lead in the 43rd minute.
Fernandez certainly must be credited for working hard on the left flank and getting the cross into dangerous territory. Two Minutes later the same sequence of events nearly worked again, but this time Gonclaves’ mistake went wide.
On the hour-mark, the Revolution sent on former United striker Charlie Davies, who immediately earned a yellow card for diving. Revolution coach Jay Heaps was so upset by the referee’s call that his outrage got him booted from the game.
Diego Fagundez came close to getting the New England team back into the match with an acrobatic bicycle kick in the 74th minute that went wide.
United sealed the win when substitute Chris Rolfe, who was signed by United on Wednesday from the Chicago Fire, crowned his United debut with a well-taken goal three minutes into stoppage time.
With the Revolution stretched and looking for a tying goal, United’s two fresh substitutes performed to perfection. Conor Doyle cleverly charged forward with the ball into the Revolution territory stealing precious seconds and laying off a pass to the Fabien Espindola. The Argentine striker, floated over a perfect cross to the open Rolfe, who calmly slotted the ball home from 12 yards to make it 2-0.
The player rankings:
Andrew Dykstra (6) – The backup keeper was in the nets for the injured Bill Hamid and making his first start in nearly four years. He didn’t have a lot to do but he did make one big save to stop United- killer, Diego Fagundez, on the 21-minute mark.
Sean Franklin (6) – He should have shot after a nice pass from Johnson in the 12th minute, and wasted a shot in the 36th minute, after another good ball from the United striker. He worked hard all night and is certainly a huge positive in the United backline.
Bobby Boswell (6) – Read a number of situations well and produced a steady performance.
Jeff Parke (7) – Worked hard and was cool under fire. Made a number of good crosses and continues to be a calming influence at the back.
Cristian Fernandez (7) – This was his best game so far in United’s colors. He made a number of fine crosses: one setting up the own-goal.
Davy Arnaud (8) – In for the injured Luis Silva, Ben Olsen praised him for effort on the night. He had an opportunity in the 33rd minute when he should have taken the shot but he waited too long and decided for a pass. He saw a good shot go over the bar.
Nick DeLeon (7) – He continues to make good runs down the right flank. Tried to do too at times and should have passed earlier to Rolfe at one point. Breezed past the Revolution defense on one attack but wasted the final pass. He looks like he’s getting back to his old form.
Perry Kitchen – (6) Set up a great through-ball for DeLeon in the 27th minute. Would have been a goal except for a fine clearance by Chris Tierney
Lewis Neal (5) – It was not a great game for the Englishman. He earned a yellow card in the 3rd minute after a nasty tackle on Andrew Farrell. Then he went in with another rash tackle on Farrell late in first half and was lucky not to be sent off. He had a better second half before being replaced by Chris Role in the 63rd minute.
Fabien Espindola (8) – He continues to work well with Eddie Johnson combing some nice passing sequences. After some excellent footwork he made set up Johnson in 75th minute which could have resulted in a goal. He looked busy all game, and his perfect pass set up Rolfe’s late goal.
Eddie Johnson (7) – Back from U.S. team duty against Mexico, he looked sharp in the early going feeding both Franklin and Neal with nice passes. Rolfe set him up a good pass in the 67th minute but he hesitated, and failed to get the shot off. He had a good effort go wide in 75th. He then came close to scoring in 80th but a fine save by Bobby Shuttleworth denied him his first United goal.
Chris Rolfe (7) – The newly acquired striker from the Chicago Fire came on for Neal in the 63rd minute and took up a left-midfield position. He looked fresh straight off the bat setting up a good pass for Johnson. He dealt with Espindola’s pass perfectly to score the late goal.
Conor Doyle (6) – Came on for Johnson in 87th minute and played a role in setting up the goal.
John Haydon wrote a weekly soccer column for The Washington Times for 20 years. He has covered two World Cups and written about Major League Soccer from the league’s inception in 1996.
Follow John on Twitter at @Johnahaydon or email [email protected]