Photo by Jose L. Argueta/ISIPhotos.com
By CLIFF STARKEY
WASHINGTON — It had been eight long months since D.C. United tasted victory in an MLS match. A grueling stretch that has only been made barely tolerable by the U.S. Open Cup the team won last year.
The streak is over though, and it ended with the help of their opponent.
Jose Goncalves scored a comical own goal just before halftime, and Chris Rolfe marked his D.C. United debut with a goal in second-half stoppage time to give D.C. a 2-0 victory over the New England Revolution at RFK Stadium on Saturday.
After a cagey start, where both teams looked content to feel each other out, both teams began to find success down the wings. Eddie Johnson and Lee Nguyen dictated the play, and the game began to open up.
Despite the slow start, the first half was full of half-chances, but as halftime neared, it looked like both teams would be going in to the locker room looking for a way to break the deadlock. In the 43rd minute, the game finally got the goal it deserved, albeit in unexpected fashion.
Goncalves looked set to make the most routine of clearances on a tame cross, but he could only watch in horror as the ball rolled off his foot, and into the back of his own net. The own goal put D.C. United ahead 1-0 going in to the break.
Goncalves was frustrated, but didn’t see his own goal as the end of the game.
“We were not ready for this goal—myself, too. But this stuff will happen, and you have to move on,” Goncalves said after the game. ”We knew that we had to play forward and direct, and that’s what we did. But we didn’t have enough chances to score.”
“The own goal hurts, but I do think we were a little hard done to be down a goal,” New England Revolution head coach Jay Heaps said.
The second half again saw a handful of half-chances, and it looked like Goncalves would be directly responsible for D.C. United’s first win in over seven months.
However, as the game entered its final seconds, Conor Doyle found Rolfe on an impressive, long distance pass, and Rolfe put the game to bed.
Rolfe’s goal completed a whirlwind week, after being traded from the Chicago Fire just a few days before.
“It’s been crazy,” Rolfe said. “I only found out I was traded a few hours before I got to D.C. The guys have been great—the organization has been awesome—they’ve made it really easy for me, and that helped me tonight.”
After the game, D.C. United head coach Ben Olsen was happy not only for getting a long-awaited win, but also for the outlook of his team.
“It feels good. It feels good for the new guys, but in particular, some of the old guys, Olsen said after the match. “We got a little bit of a demon off our back, and we can continue to move forward.”
The match was an ugly one that featured just three combined shots on goal between the two teams. Despite a few cutting passes to release teammates, Eddie Johnson struggled to make his mark on the match, while strike partner Fabian Espindola proved to be a handful.
“[The offensive struggles aren’t] because I’m telling them not to shoot. I thought there was one or two—I think [Johnson] had one where he probably should’ve put it on goal, but that stuff will get better,” Olsen said.
Nguyen, who was center of New England’s attack throughout the night, said that despite the lack of shots on target, the offensive play was something to see some positives in.
“We were close, but it’s not good enough,” Nguyen said. We need to make the goalie make a save, at least. Had we put any of those on target, we would have had one or two goals in the first half.”
Andrew Dykstra made just one save in posting a shutout in place of injured starting goalkeeper Bill Hamid, who missed the match with a toe injury.
D.C. United play their third home game in a row next week, as they host the New York Red Bulls. New England Revolution host the Houston Dynamo on Saturday.
Check out video highlights of the match below:
A couple of charter teams with storied histories and yet credibility that is being tested by a bizarre lack of management interest in entering the next era of MLS along with everyone else. . Chris Rolfe, Ben Olsen. Davy Arnaud, Jay Heaps… I don’t even know who was playing or coaching, or what year it is. Charlie Davies claims 2009 but that’s always his answer.
It isn’t looking up either. Perry Kitchen and Bill Hamid should look at Chris Pontius and sprint away from this boneyard of USMNT potential that DC United insists on being, — perhaps as an affront to Eddie Pope or maybe an homage to Roy Lassiter. . Similarly the largley anonymous roster of Revs players should see if they can at least transfer to the Patriots, so that they can stop being politely mistaken for the janitorial crew. Nothing makes Diego Fagundez feel more American-and-not-Uruguayan than Bob Kraft and Tom Brady stopping by his locker to drop off their dry cleaning while discussing plans for a soccer specific stadium in a suburb just outside ah let’s not kid ourselves. .
Sad honestly. Eddie Johnson got paid though. Which I believe he had expressed an interest in.
Where do these rants come from? DCU played well last night, and should continue to improve, especially after the return of Pontius.
I think this comment from NASL arises out of jealousy that MLS has been able to keep their league afloat, while the NASL was relegated.
Bitter much, NASL?
and cliff, it was espindola (#9) who had the assist on rolfe’s goal.
“[The offensive struggles aren’t] because I’m telling them not to shoot.”
it’s good that olsen is clarifying this, because that’s what it seemed like. by the second half, everyone was screaming at eddie johnson and the others for not shooting when they had the chance. and then, when he finally did shoot (off target, but still), everyone did the patronizing cheer (at least in my section).
eddie needs to realize that, much like jozy at sunderland, scoring opportunities at dcu are going to be few and far between.
Frustrating match. The Revs should have had a man advantage in the 7th minute. I don’t know how you can define that challenge as anything other than “studs-up”. Farrell was lucky his leg wasn’t broken, and the ref can’t even be bothered to do his job right and send the player off. Same player went in studs-up again later, but didn’t even get a second booking. Atrocious!
lewis neal, and i agree, he should’ve been sent off on that second one, at least. i thought the ref was pretty poor overall.
Chris Rolfe scores a beauty instantly.
Nice work, Chicago.
If he could do that more than twice a season we wouldn’t have gotten rid of him. Believe me, we have _very_ low standards for goalscorers here in Chicago…