By AVI CREDITOR
WASHINGTON — The New England Revolution have been looking for a ray of hope in their recent streak of futility, and they finally got one Wednesday night.
Rookie Stephen McCarthy headed in Chris Tierney's 73rd-minute corner kick, and the Revolution held off D.C. United for a 1-0 win under hot and humid conditions in front of 15,597 at RFK Stadium. The victory completed the season sweep of D.C. for New England and snapped a nine-game winless stretch.
Playing without suspended midfielder Benny Feilhaber, the Revolution (4-9-7) also won on the road in league play for the first time this season, improving to 1-6-3 away from Gillette Stadium.
Charlie Davies missed a first-half penalty kick for D.C. (5-6-8), which had numerous quality chances but either missed or was denied by stellar New England goalkeeper Matt Reis, who was credited with six saves.
None of those chances were more opportunistic than the penalty, which was awarded in the 43rd minute after Pat Phelan got caught with his elbow extended and was whistled for handling Josh Wolff's cross inside the area.
Davies stepped to the spot for the fifth time this season but missed for the first time, skying his attempt well over the crossbar to spoil the chance to go ahead heading into halftime.
"I leaned back, and it went over," Davies said. "It was pretty painful to see that go over the bar."
The missed penalty gave new life to New England, which had its fair share of chances — specifically forward Rajko Lekic — despite being on its heels for extended stretches of the match.
"I felt like this is it, if there's a game that we're going to win now it's going to be this one," McCarthy said. "The way things have been going, the horrible luck, bad bounces, and we got that (missed penalty), and I think the whole team thought, 'All right, this has to be the one.' That was a game-changer."
It wasn't until the 73rd minute when the game tilted in the Revolution's favor for good, when Tierney placed his corner kick in an ideal spot for McCarthy in the center of the box. The goal was the second of the season for the 6-foot-4 rookie midfielder out of the University of North Carolina.
"(Tierney) puts them on a dime, so I'm lucky to have him out there," McCarthy said.
The Revolution put numbers behind the ball after capturing the lead but almost succumbed to an equalizer in the 82nd minute. Dwayne De Rosario was played into the area by Andy Najar, but De Rosario's right-footed shot was expertly stopped by Reis' kick save.
De Rosario also came close to scoring on three occasions in the first half. His sliding one-time attempt off a Najar cross went left of the near post in the opening minutes; his shot from outside the top of the area whizzed over the crossbar in the 16th minute; and he was stopped by Reis two minutes later with another blast from the edge of the box that the keeper pushed wide with a diving save.
While the result represents a building block for the Revolution, it conversely represents a lost opportunity for D.C. The team failed to win at home for the sixth consecutive game and missed a chance to capitalize off the momentum of a four-point haul from consecutive road games at New York and Dallas.
"It was just one of those games where no matter what, the ball wasn't going in the net," Davies said. "That's tough to take especially against a team that we got the better of, and they haven't done so well, and it's a game where we expect to get three points."
Despite struggling for the bulk of the season, the Revolution seem to have United's number this year. New England knocked D.C. out of the U.S. Open Cup in the preliminary rounds and also won the teams' other regular-season meeting, taking a 2-1 result in Foxborough, Mass., back on March 26.
The Revolution wore black armbands in honor of Myra Kraft, the late wife of Revolution owner Robert Kraft. She passed away on Wednesday after a battle with ovarian cancer. … The heat index in D.C. was at 101 degrees at the time of first kick. … Newly acquired Austin da Luz made his United debut, entering as a 71st-minute substitute for Chris Pontius.