Gritty road win a rare, rewarding one for DC United

DC United head coach Ben Olsen

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It’s been a trying four years for D.C. United and their supporters.

Despite a single US Open Cup triumph in 2008, the Black and Red have failed to impress in the league, missing the MLS postseason each of the past four seasons.

But if the storyline is going to change this season, Saturday’s gritty 2-1 win at New England could be the turning point.

WATCH: Full Match Highlights

“Last year we probably find a way to lose that game,” said head coach Ben Olsen (above, right). “And I’m seeing some signs of this team figuring out ways to be winners.”

Olsen added that he didn’t remember the last time United won at Gillette Stadium, and that’s no surprise. It came way back in 2007, when George W. Bush was still the biggest name in Washington and Olsen’s ankles allowed him to play week in and week out.

In fact, D.C. had not beaten New England in any competition and in any venue since a 2-1 victory in MLS play at RFK Stadium on Oct. 16, 2008.

But in the 2-1 win over the Revs on Saturday, the Black and Red overcame obstacles that they simply had failed to clear in seasons past. Conceding the early goal wasn’t in the game plan, but finding an equalizer in the first half and scoring a late winner in the second half hasn’t been a forte of this side in years.

Still, there is a long way to go. The last time that United won two MLS games in a row was in 2009, when they beat New York and Chicago in back-to-back weeks in June.

But after losses in their first two games this season, United have gone unbeaten in their past four, picking up eight points with two wins and two draws.

“The ultimate goal is playoffs and an Eastern Conference Championship,” United midfielder Perry Kitchen said after the game. “We’re not doing badly, but we’ve got to keep it going because last year we struggled with road wins and home wins too.”

United will have a chance to win that second consecutive game on Wednesday, as they quickly return home to D.C. to host the Montreal Impact before playing at home again on Sunday against the New York Red Bulls. The quick turnaround means that United will have to immediately refocus their attention on the Impact after dispatching New England.

“We just have to stay sharp,” Kitchen said, “and move onto the next one.”