FOXBOROUGH, Mass. – Lee Nguyen scored the winner seven minutes from time to hand New England a 2-1 victory over D.C. United at Gillette Stadium.
Nguyen's late penalty provided the perfect cap to a peculiar night. United went ahead through a Scott Caldwell own goal, but then watched Nguyen spurn a disputed penalty and Diego Fagundez equalize when he appeared to stray offside.
New England dominated in the second half in a bid to claim the victory required to sustain its playoff push. Nguyen won his second penalty of the game and dinked past Bill Hamid to hand the Revs all three points.
United claimed its first away lead of the campaign with some help from the Revolution defense. Luis Silva created a yard of space on the right and curled a cross into the penalty area. Caldwell lunged to clear, but he poked the ball back past the onrushing Matt Reis to hand United their first road advantage since Oct. 6, 2012.
The home side flailed around in its attempt to muster a response during a ragged first half. Kelyn Rowe – scorer of five goals in his previous five matches – posed the largest threat with a couple of efforts from distance. Lee Nguyen also dragged narrowly wide as the Revs improved marginally before the halftime break.
New England's bright start to the half soon plunged the match into controversy. Dejan Jakovic appeared to tackle cleanly away from Nguyen 10 minutes after play resumed, but referee Juan Carlos Rivero pointed to the spot. United goalkeeper Bill Hamid salvaged the situation by diving to his right to save Nguyen's low attempt from the resulting penalty.
Hamid could do nothing about the Fagundez equalizer moments later, though. Fagundez made a clever run – one that appeared to take him well offside, but the flag stayed down – to latch onto Saer Sene's throughball. The blossoming midfielder made no mistake to bring his side level and notch his 11th goal of the season.
The home side piled on the pressure in the wake of Fagundez's strike. Nguyen hit the crossbar after 68 minutes with a rasping drive from distance before Hamid tipped Sene's whirling effort from distance around the near post 10 minutes later.
It finally paid off seven minutes from time as Nguyen won a second penalty with a neat run on the right side of the penalty area. He assumed the duties once more and clipped home to hand the Revs a critical victory in the tight Eastern Conference playoff race.