FOXBOROUGH, Mass. – Wayne Rooney buried a 90th minute penalty kick to help D.C. United steal a 1-1 draw from the New England Revolution on Saturday night and move into first place in the Eastern Conference standings.
Rooney’s goal capped a wild 40-minute coda in front of an announced crowd of 20,131 at Gillette Stadium.
The fracas started as referee David Gantar red carded Revolution goalkeeper Matt Turner in the 57th for crashing into Rooney outside the box to halt a breakaway. Brad Knighton replaced Turner in net as the Revs withdrew Tajon Buchanan and played with 10 men for the remainder of the match. Knighton saved Rooney’s free kick seconds after entering the fray.
“That’s the nature of our positions, you gotta be ready at a moment’s notice,” Knighton said.
Four minutes later, Juan Agudelo broke a scoreless deadlock with his third goal of the season, heading in a feed from Cristian Penilla.
D.C. United (7-4-4, 25 points) got New England’s back line to bend, but not break in pursuit of the equalizer. The visitors, though, got a lifeline in the late stages when Gantar awarded them a penalty kick after checking Video Review and confirming a handball in the box on Revolution defender Brandon Bye.
Rooney converted the spot kick to make it 1-1.
“I think we were deserving of the three points,” Agudelo said. “We scored a goal a man down, defended good against a very strong D.C. side. Unfortunately, we only got one point instead of three.”
May 25, 2019; Foxborough, MA, USA; Star Wars characters pose for a photo as part of Star Wars night prior to a match between the New England Revolution and D.C. United at Gillette Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Bob DeChiara-USA TODAY Sports
The consensus in the Revolution locker room seemed to be that it was two points lost, not one point gained, as Agudelo suggested.
Still, the Revolution (3-8-4, 13 points) went toe-to-toe with a longtime conference rival and extended their unbeaten run to three games in league play.
Interim head coach Mike Lapper benched starting left back Edgar Castillo in favor of midfield speedster DeJuan Jones and also kept veterans like Diego Fagundez and Antonio Delamea off the matchday 18-man roster entirely.
D.C. outshot New England 21-14 and held most of the possession, but the Revolution competed well for 90 minutes and largely frustrated Rooney and playmaking midfielder Luciano Acosta, who, unlike other marquee players in MLS, seemed undeterred by Gillette Stadium’s artificial turf.
New England flashed a pair of chances wide in the first half; a combination play between Buchanan and Bye ended with Buchanan firing wide of the far post in the 14th minute. Four minutes later, Carles Gil curled a shot wide of Bill Hamid’s left post from just inside the area.
Bye headed a driven cross over his own goal with Rooney bearing down on net in the 38th minute, and Frederic Brilliant flicked a Rooney free kick from the right flank into Turner’s gut seconds before halftime.
Hamid parried a blast from Bye two minutes into the second half before Teal Bunbury glanced a header off an Agudelo cross wide in the 51st minute.
Rooney came to life midway through the second half despite absorbing a crushing challenge from Turner, who needed to make a play to prevent Rooney from converting an easy finish.
“Like being in a car crash,” Rooney joked before pointing out he had felt pain in his chest, shoulder, and head on the play. “It’s a misjudgment by the goalkeeper – the referee got the decision right – but these things happen, he meant no harm, he just misjudged it.”
Agudelo scored as the Revolution pressed forward, with Penilla starting the play by crossing into the six-yard box with his right foot. Agudelo rose over Marquinhos Pedroso to head the feed into the net past Hamid.
D.C. kept its composure despite conceding and passed around New England’s penalty area as the hosts bunkered in. Rooney eventually got his clearest chance of the evening when he stepped up to take the penalty kick on the stroke of seven minutes of stoppage time, burying his shot to the upper left corner of the net with a confident blast.
Bye said after the game that he felt that the penalty call wasn’t merited.
“I didn’t think it was fair, the ball was blasted from two feet away from my body and I put my hands up to block it,” Bye said. “I’m not going to sit there and put my nose into it. But, that’s the call he made and you have to live with it. It’s sickening, but you have to live with it.”