The New England Revolution landed quite a sucker punch onD.C. United on Saturday night, snatching three points on enemy turf while alsounsettling the delicate psyche of a winless team and its first-year coach witha 2-0 win of the smash-and-grab variety.
However, very little of what transpired at RFK Stadium was asurprise. Both sides knew how the other would approach the game and both knewwhat needed to be done to secure a victory.
United were given ample chances to impose themselves on anundermanned, defensive-minded Revs squad and flubbed their lines, while thevisitors – guided by Kenny Mansally – seized their opportunities with cutthroatefficiency.
“We knew that they were going to come in and drop off andplay low-pressure,” D.C. coach Curt Onalfo said. “I thought we moved the ballwell, I thought we created chances. Unfortunately you’ve got to finish thosechances, and we gave up a real unfortunate goal towards the end of the game,and I think that shell shocked us a little bit.”
“We had the better of the game and we walked away notwinning. Sometimes the game is very cruel and tonight was a perfect example ofthat.”
Buoyed by a passionate opening-day crowd, United passed andprobed with virtual impunity in the first half. But time and again theirpassing moves ground to a halt in and around the New England penalty area asCory Gibbs, Emmanuel Osei and the rest of the Revs defense closed ranks and preventedthe Black-and-Red from testing goalkeeper Preston Burpo with regularity.
After Chris Pontius missed two good chances in the firsthalf, several set-piece opportunities went begging and with the home fansgrowing restive, United began to grow flustered.
“I think it was urgent in the first half,” D.C. midfielderSantino Quaranta said. “And you don’t get the goal and you can throw a lot ofnumbers forward, and you see what happens. When you lose your shape and becomeundisciplined it becomes a problem, and that’s what happened tonight.”
The United defense, composed and cohesive for most of thenight, lost concentration just long enough to allow Chris Tierney’s deflectedcross to reach Mansally deep in the box for the first goal. Less than twominutes later, a flash of individual brilliance from Mansally completed hisbrace and put the game on ice.
Onalfo’s New England counterpart Steve Nicol could hardlyhave scripted it any better. But for United, it’s back to the drawing board asthey contemplate the ugly reality of an 0-2 start to the 2010 campaign withzero goals scored and six goals conceded.
“We’ve got to get better,” D.C. defender Carey Talley said. “I’mconfident that we will, but I think that a lot of us need to step up and startpushing guys, start making them play in uncomfortable spots and uncomfortablesituations, seeing what we’re made of.”