D.C. United rode an own goal and stoppage-time insurance tally to knock off Eastern Conference rival New England Revolution 2-0 Saturday night at RFK Stadium, snapping a 16-game winless streak in league matches.
The losing streak was the longest in D.C.'s storied history, and good for the the second longest in MLS history.
D.C. took the lead in the 43rd minute when Revolution defender Jose Goncalves -- the 2013 MLS Defender of the Year -- knocked a Cristian cross goalwards past goalkeeper Bobby Shuttleworth. Goncalves could be seen after giving the opponents the 1-0 edge pleading with his teammates for forgiveness.
Chances were few and far between in an uneventful first half. Twelve minutes in, United found their first opportunity of the match. Eddie Johnson, Sean Franklin and Davy Arnaud combined in the attacking third, with Franklin’s cross finding a well-marked Arnaud 12 yards out. The former Montreal Impact captain’s effort sailed wide and high.
New England would return fire 10 minutes later. Diego Fagundez collected the ball at the top of the 18, easily sped by United left back Cristian and struck an angled shot at United goalkeeper Andrew Dykstra. Dykstra - making his first start in league play since Oct. 10, 2010, filling in for an injured Bill Hamid - got just enough on the attempt to parry it away from goal. The rebound effort by Saer Sene went just wide.
For a team that many would argue has been short on luck for quite a while, Untied found themselves on the end of a few fortuitous calls on Saturday evening. Aside from the own goal, United were perhaps lucky to not lose the services of midfielder Lewis Neal, who’s two rash first-half challenges on Revolution defender Andrew Farrell were only punished by a single yellow card.
New England applied pressure early in a slightly more active second stanza. A poor giveaway from Fernandez led to the Revolution’s first chance, with Revolution forward Teal Bunbury’s venomous, 12-yard strike skimming inches over the crossbar. United responded in kind, but a series of exchanges between Johnson, fellow forward Fabian Espindola and Nick DeLeon failed to produce a second goal.
D.C. carved out another opportunity in the 80th minute, with Espindola slipping a ball through to an unmarked Johnson. The U.S. men’s national team striker, fresh off a productive appearance in the side’s friendly against Mexico on Wednesday evening, smashed a shot directly into the arms of New England 'keeper Shuttleworth. It was the last in a series of missed chances for Johnson, still waiting for his first goal of 2014.
In second-half stoppage time, United would put the game out of reach. Espindola played a 40-yard cross over a stretched Revolution backline. The ball hit second half substitute Chris Rolfe - playing his first game for D.C. after being acquired in a mid-week trade with the Chicago Fire - in stride. Rolfe made no mistake, striking a powerful shot at Shuttleworth, who couldn’t quite hang on to the attempt.
D.C. - who will surely feel a sense of relief to no longer be inches away from the wrong end of the MLS record books, will welcome New York next weekend, while the Revolution (1-3-1) will return home to face the Dynamo on Saturday evening.
Goals: NER Own Goal (43'), Chris Rolfe (90+)
Disciplinary: Lewis Neal (4'), Andy Dorman (36'), Charlie Davies (88'), Conor Doyle (90+)
DCU Lineups: Dykstra; Fernandez, Parke, Boswell, Franklin; Neal (Rolfe, 63'), Kitchen, Arnaud, DeLeon; Espindola, Johnson (Doyle, 87')
NER Lineups: Shuttleworth; Tierney, Goncalves, Soares, Farrell; Dorman; Fagundez, Nguyen, Kobayashi (Neumann, 84'), Sene (Davies, 60'); Bunbury