Jun 30, 2018; Foxborough, MA, USA; New England Revolution forward Teal Bunbury (10) celebrates after scoring a goal during the first half against the D.C. United at Gillette Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Greg M. Cooper-USA TODAY Sports
FOXBOROUGH, Mass. – The New England Revolution weren’t as sharp or dominant as they could have been Saturday night against D.C. United, but they did enough to extend their unbeaten run in league matches to six games by taking a 3-2 win at Gillette Stadium.
In truth, the Revs made it harder than it needed to be.
D.C. United (2-7-4, 10 points) came back from two deficits, with both goals coming off set pieces. Cristian Penilla scored twice for New England – once to open the scoring in the 18th minute, then to win the game from the penalty spot in the 77th minute before an announced crowd of 19,371.
Sandwiched between Penilla’s seventh and eighth goals of the season was a brace by United’s Yamil Asad and the Revs’ second goal, scored by Teal Bunbury on the stroke of halftime.
Saturday night’s result keeps United firmly in the basement of the Eastern Conference and marks the first time since May 2014 that New England (7-4-6, 27 points) beat D.C. during the regular season.
“Thankfully we go the three points,” said Revolution coach Brad Friedel. “I think it’s a sign of a good team, when you’re not at your absolute best and you can get the three points.”
The Revolution entered the weekend having not played since June 13 due to the World Cup break. Though New England managed to win, its players lacked sharpness and suffered a few lapses, which gifted the visitors a pair of goals.
At halftime, even Friedel called his team’s performance to that point the worst he’s seen all season.
Nevertheless, the Revs did plenty of things right, too, starting with their opening goal.
In the 18th minute, goalkeeper Matt Turner sent the ball into space for Krisztian Nemeth, who played it wide for Diego Fagundez.
Fagundez, making his 200th Major League Soccer appearance, then sent the ball back toward the box, where Penilla slipped it past United goalkeeper David Ousted into the back of the net.
Antonio Delamea took down Luciano Acosta just outside the penalty area in the 27th minute. Turner palmed over the crossbar Acosta’s ensuing free kick, but he was beat off a set piece 13 minutes later.
New England conceded another free kick when D.C. stripped the ball from left back Claude Dielna. United’s Zoltan Stieber took the shot, his blast from 20 yards caroming off Asad’s face and flying past Turner to make it 1-1.
“One of the things we spoke about was not conceding silly free kicks outside the box,” Friedel said. “We knew that they were gifted at that. When you concede those chances, you’re not going to be happy.”
But, the Revs restored their lead right before the halftime whistle.
Frederic Brillant fouled Fagundez halfway between midfield and the Revolution’s net. Jalil Anibaba then sent a long, lofted ball toward the penalty area that Bunbury jumped up to reach. Possession fell to the turf and Bunbury ran onto the loose ball. He fired a drive toward Ousted that came off United defender Steve Birnbaum’s foot and entered the net to make it 2-1.
“The center back kind of misjudged it and saw it was going to go over our heads, just hoping the keeper wasn’t coming out,” Bunbury said. “He didn’t come out and I just wanted to slot it past him.”
“For me, my style is trying to work hard for my teammates, for myself, trying to put myself in the best position to score. I don’t think there’s a secret recipe to it but I think it’s just being attentive and having a killer instinct.”
Friedel took off Nemeth and central midfielder Wilfried Zahibo at halftime for Juan Agudelo and Kelyn Rowe, respectively, but the changes didn’t produce much as D.C. stuck around to challenge for an equalizer. They eventually tied the game in the 73rd minute after referee Allen Chapman called a penalty on Dielna for pushing down Darren Mattocks in the area. Asad stepped up and buried the ensuing spot kick for his seventh goal of the season.
Again, the Revolution returned fire — and won the game moments later.
In the 77th minute, Oniel Fisher took down Andrew Farrell in the box, prompting Chapman to award another penalty. Penilla made no mistake as he stepped up to put his chance away, blasting the ball into the upper right corner of the net to close out the competition.
“Still a little bit of back and forth but in MLS a lot of games are really close,” Bunbury added. “We were able to get three points.”