Wracked by injuries and forced to start a number of unproven youngsters, the New England Revolution made light of what seemed like a tough trip to Washington on Saturday, absorbing D.C. United’s pressure all night and snatching a 2-0 victory on the back of a Kenny Mansally double in front of 20,664 disappointed fans at RFK Stadium.
The first goal was set up in the 80th minute by Chris Tierney, who ambled down the Revs left side and sent in a cross that was deflected, but not cleared, by Dejan Jakovic. Mansally raced onto the loose ball to sidefoot a sharp finish past D.C. goalkeeper Troy Perkins and into the roof of the net for a 1-0 advantage.
United were still reeling when the Gambian international produced a dazzling solo effort mere moments later to double the lead and shock the RFK faithful. Surrounded by defenders, Mansally conjured up a series of twisting, turning touches at the top of the D.C. box before curling a lofted shot over Perkins and into the top corner, salting away the result for Revs boss Steve Nicol and piling the pressure on the still winless first-year D.C. coach Curt Onalfo.
Consider it a hearty first win of the season for the Revs, who played without Sharlie Joseph and looked like a recovered squad following a disappointing 2-0 loss to the LA Galaxy in the season opener.
The Revs hardly sniffed the ball in the game’s opening stages, but Kheli Dube almost conjured a fluke goal out of nothing when his hopeful shot from 30 yards out caromed off teammate Zack Schilawski’s back, wrong-footing Perkins but spinning wide of the right post.
A foul on Jaime Moreno inside the Revs restraining arc set up a promising free kick for United in the 13th minute, and Santino Quaranta’s low drive glanced off the New England wall and flew towards the side netting only to be blocked wide by an instinctive kick save from Preston Burpo.
Yet the visitors continued to sit deep and defend resolutely, massing ranks behind the ball in a fashion that gave D.C. plenty of possession, but frustrated them when they reached the New England box.
About 10 minutes before half time, United finally got a chance to break out as Moreno led a counterattack after a Revs corner kick, with Quaranta slotting a low center to the near post that was nearly buried by Chris Pontius. But no first-half opportunity was more inviting than the one Brandon Barklage offered Pontius a few minutes later, pinging a driven cross right to the striker’s head only to watch him nod over the crossbar from close range.
With both teams showing plenty of early-season rustiness, the game lacked fluidity for long stretches and Nicol would have been pleased to see his young squad maintain their discipline and keep the score deadlocked.
United seemed to be running out of ideas on how to break down their opponents in the run of play, but still threatened on set pieces. Quaranta’s corner kick nearly hit pay dirt on the hour mark as Barklage got his head to the inswinging delivery, but with Burpo a bystander, his effort flew just wide of the post. Six minutes later another such instance provoked havoc amid a tangle of bodies in the Revs goalmouth, but no one in black was there to apply the final touch as the ball trickled over the endline.
Desperate for a spark, Onalfo elected to change out his wingers with Boyzzz Khumalo and Andy Najar replacing Christian Castillo and Barklage, respectively. Conversely, Nicol threw Mansally into the fray for Schilawski up top, a decision that would soon pay handsome dividends.
Quaranta sprinted onto an angled pass and hammered a shot to the near post in the 77th minute, forcing Burpo to parry the well-hit effort. Yet such moments were all too rare as the Black-and-Red had dominated possession but simply did not create enough with it -- and with time ticking away, Mansally brutally punished their lack of sharpness with a quick-fire brace to win the match for his side.
New England Revolution -- Preston Burpo, Kevin Alston (Darrius Barnes 89), Cory Gibbs, Emmanuel Osei, Seth Sinovic, Sainey Nyassi (Zak Boggs 69), Pat Phelan, Niouky Desire, Chris Tierney, Zack Schilawski (Kenny Mansally 68), Kheli Dube.
Substitutes Not Used: Khano Smith, Michael Videira, Bobby Shuttleworth.
TOTAL SHOTS: 8 (Kenny Mansally 3); SHOTS ON GOAL: 3 (Kenny Mansally 2); FOULS:11 (Pat Phelan 4); OFFSIDES: 0; CORNER KICKS: 2 (Chris Tierney 2); SAVES: 3(Preston Burpo 3)
D.C. United -- Troy Perkins, Carey Talley (Julius James 76), Dejan Jakovic, Juan Manuel Peña, Rodney Wallace,Brandon Barklage (Andy Najar 70), Kurt Morsink, Santino Quaranta, Cristian Castillo (Thabiso Khumalo 62), Jaime Moreno, Chris Pontius.
Substitutes Not Used: Adam Cristman, Devon McTavish, Danny Allsopp, Andrew Quinn.
TOTAL SHOTS: 12 (Chris Pontius 4); SHOTS ON GOAL: 3 (Santino Quaranta 2); FOULS: 12 (Thabiso Khumalo 3, Chris Pontius 3); OFFSIDES: 3 (3 tied with 1); CORNER KICKS: 5(Santino Quaranta 3); SAVES: 1 (Troy Perkins 1)
Referee: Baldomero Toledo
Referee's Assistants: -Nate Clement; Eric Boria
4th Official: Jorge Gonzalez
Time of Game: 1:50Weather: Cloudy and 70 degrees