United play host to MLS best Revs

which he then celebrated by running to the location of home plate for the Washington Nationals and mimicking hitting one out of the park. Moreno converted his second penalty of the game and the third on the night eight minutes from the end when Leonard was ruled to have handled the ball, but that was all the response United could muster.

LAST MEETING

• On May 14 at Gillette Stadium, both teams struggled to create coherent chances, and it was a Taylor Twellman goal just before the hour that was the difference. But the Revolution defense held firm, extending the club's shutout streak to 368 minutes - their last goal allowed coming in the last meeting against United, a wild 4-3 New England win on April 23.

• Pat Noonan created the goal, turning Mike Petke inside-out with a mazy run on the right before sliding a pass to Twellman in the heart of the area. His first shot was blocked by Nick Rimando, but he was quickest to the rebound to poke it home for his fourth goal on the season.

• Here's Steve Nicol's team (3-4-1-2): Matt Reis - Jay Heaps, Michael Parkhurst, Avery John - Steve Ralston, Clint Dempsey, Shalrie Joseph (Jose Cancela 88), Marshall Leonard (Khano Smith 52) - Andy Dorman (Jeff Larentowicz 89) - Taylor Twellman, Pat Noonan

• Here's Peter Nowak's team (3-1-4-2): Nick Rimando - Brandon Prideaux, Bobby Boswell, Mike Petke (Bryan Namoff 87) - Clyde Simms - Ben Olsen (Brian Carroll 87), Freddy Adu (Dema Kovalenko 72), Christian Gomez, Joshua Gros - Alecko Eskandarian, Jaime Moreno

HISTORY

• United captured the season series a year ago, winning two of the four meetings, with the other two draws. United took a 1-0 victory on May 29 at Gillette Stadium (og 5), before they played to a pair of draws within two weeks - a 2-2 stalemate on Aug. 14 at RFK Stadium (Moreno 39, 56 - Ralston 38, Dorman 85), and a scoreless draw on Aug. 28 in New England.

• United then took the season finale between the two with a 1-0 victory on East Capitol Street on Oct. 9 (Gomez 32)

• Then the teams met last year in the Eastern Conference Final, often called the best game ever played in MLS history. After the teams battled to a 3-3 draw through 120 minutes, United advanced to a fifth MLS Cup Final with a 4-3 win in the penalty shootout (Eskandarian 11, Moreno 21, Gomez 67 - Twellman 17, Ralston 44 pen, Noonan 85)

• The Revolution have won back-to-back games in the series after winning just one of the previous eight. The last time they won back-to-back games in the series was in 2002, when they won the final three meetings.

• Coaches record: Steve Nicol vs. DC: P15 W7 L5 D3 ... Peter Nowak v NE: P6 W2 L2 T2

D.C. UNITED

D.C. United ended their goalless run in style, winning for the first time in four matches in a wild 4-3 victory against the Chicago Fire on Wednesday night at RFK Stadium. United took over sole possession of fifth place in the Eastern Conference with 16 points from 12 matches, a point behind both the MetroStars and Kansas City Wizards and three ahead of the Columbus Crew, now nine points out of first place.

• After seeing their goalless streak pass the five-hour mark, D.C. United twice came back from deficits before claiming a wild victory against the Fire.

• The Fire took the lead with two goals in eight minutes late in the first half. Chris Rolfe gave the Fire the lead when he snuck in as defender Brandon Prideaux casually dealt with a long ball played into the United box, the rookie striker deflecting past a stunned Nick Rimando (30). Then Nate Jaqua doubled the lead, Justin Mapp putting in a precise far post cross where Jaqua rose up to head past a stranded Rimando.

• But United pulled a goal two minutes before the break after Santino Quaranta was hauled down in the area and Jaime Moreno clinically converted from the spot for United's first goal in 323 minutes. Then two minutes after the restart, Christian Gomez tapped home a rolling Quaranta cross from the right corner that was helped on by a clever dummy from substitute Alecko Eskandarian.

• Yet Gonzalo Segares again nosed the Fire in front with his first professional goal, Rolfe chasing down the ball in the corner before laying it back for a first-time strike by the Costa Rican fullback (62).

• Gomez though responded with his second of the night, a near carbon-copy of his first, Kovalenko freed on the right before driving a low cross to the back post where the United midfielder had the simplest of touches (73).

• Rookie center back Bobby Boswell was then the unlikeliest of heroes from another unlikely source, defender David Stokes, who skipped down the right flank before floating a cross that fell at Boswell's feet at the far post and he made no mistake in putting the chance over Zach Thornton.

• "It was definitely a confidence-booster," said Rimando. "But again, we have to stop letting those soft goals in. We got some goals, and that's definitely good for our confidence heading into this weekend against the first-place team in the league. We're looking forward to that game."

• United boss Peter Nowak made no changes to the team that played to a scoreless draw with the MetroStars three days before. Here's Nowak's team (3-4-1-2): Nick Rimando - Brandon Prideaux (David Stokes 60), Bobby Boswell, John Wilson - Dema Kovalenko, Brian Carroll (Alecko Eskandarian 46), Ben Olsen, Joshua Gros - Christian Gomez (Clyde Simms 83) - Jaime Moreno, Santino Quaranta

TEAM NEWS

• Nowak had some stern words for his team after their performance in the first half, though the penalty just before the break certainly helped. "(Giving up) the two goals made me upset in the locker room at halftime," he said. "I told them, 'This is not us. Show what we are all about.' I reminded them that we are still MLS Cup champions."

• Before the penalty, United difficulties in front of goal continues, as Thornton made one remarkable save and another was cleared off the line by Samuel Caballero. But then the floodgates did finally open. "I start to pray. I told them in the first half that we didn't do a good job with our passing and runs. There wasn't great movement off the ball. We didn't use the wings as we are supposed to. [we knew] If we put the kind of heart and effort into it, we are a dangerous team," Nowak said.

• But United needed the goals to come, allowing three goals in the game after having allowed just six in their previous seven matches. That followed a four-goal performance by the New England Revolution on April 23 - also at RFK.

• "We broke down defensively," said Rimando. "It was a real shocker - we fell asleep on all those goals. Good thing our offense woke up and scored some goals for us."

NEW ENGLAND REVOLUTION

The New England Revolution stayed unbeaten on the campaign, the streak stretching to 11 games with a 2-0 victory against the Kansas City Wizards at Arrowhead Stadium on Saturday evening. The Revolution still lead the Eastern Conference with 25 points from 11 matches thus far, still three points ahead of the Chicago Fire, and now again hold the best overall record in the league, a point better than West leader FC Dallas.

• The Revolution got a fair amount of good fortune in seeing their unbeaten run extended to 11 games to begin the season, one shy of equaling the league record.

• They took the lead after just eight minutes through an own goal, a quick restart finding Shalrie Joseph on the left, whose cross into the box was deflected past his own 'keeper by a back-tracking Sasha Victorine.

• Then four minutes after the interval, the Revolution struck again, Pat Noonan finishing off a lovely tic-tac-toe passing movement when he was sent alone into the area before chipping an on-rushing Bo Oshoniyi in the Wizards goal.

• Revolution 'keeper Matt Reis saw his best friend come to his defense. After making a remarkable save on Josh Wolff in the first half, he twice saw shots come back off the woodwork in the second, a neat volley on the turn from Davy Arnaud that hit the upright and a fierce long-range drive from Jose Burciaga Jr. that crashed off the face of the bar.

• "I was really disappointed I let that one go by me last week (against the Wizards),'' Reis said. "I wanted to come out and make a statement tonight that if we had a one-goal lead that I was going to make it stand up. If we are going to win the championship, we are going to have to win games like that.''

• Revolution boss Steve Nicol made three changes to the team that played to a 1-1 with the Wizards in Foxborough the weekend before, as their host of internationals returned. Steve Ralston, Clint Dempsey and Pat Noonan all came back into the team, as James Riley and Andy Dorman returned to the substitutes' bench and Taylor Twellman was injured.

• Here's Nicol's team (3-4-1-2): Matt Reis - Jay Heaps, Michael Parkhurst, Joe Franchino - Steve Ralston, Clint Dempsey, Shalrie Joseph, Marshall Leonard (James Riley 77) - Jose Cancela (Connally Edozien 88) - Pat Noonan, Khano Smith (Andy Dorman 68).

• "It's a fantastic three points. It's tough place to come and win. It's a tough place to come and get anything but to come here and win, it's a great result," Nicol said.

TEAM NEWS

• In the first half, the Revolution were under considerable pressure from the flanks by the Wizards - especially Chris Klein on the right - but New England made the adjustments they had to at the break.

• "Marshall (Leonard) did a great job in the second half of shutting that down," Nicol said. Obviously, in the first half it was causing us problems. But he rectified that and good on him." Said right-sided midfielder Steve Ralston: ''Marshall and I didn't go forward a lot. They wanted to go wide and stretch the field a lot."

• Ralston was one of three Revolution players who saw action with the U.S. national team in the two World Cup qualifiers. While the trio might have had subdued performances compared to earlier matches with New England during the season, they were still able to secure the result.

• ''I got a lot of rest the last two days, so I was fine," Noonan said to The Boston Globe. ''It is an honor to play for the US, especially in World Cup qualifiers. But it was nice to be back with the Revs after being gone for a week and a half and it was fun to be back and get a victory." Said Ralston: ''We have played a lot of games and done a lot of traveling and I am beat, my legs are really heavy."

• Taylor Twellman will likely be out for the next few weeks with his hamstring injury. "Obviously, I'm relieved that it's not as serious as the one I went through last year,'' Twellman said to the Boston Herald,. "I've been told this injury is expected to keep me out for four weeks. I'm shooting for a July 4 return for the Revolution. Hopefully I continue to progress but you are never quite sure with this kind of injury. I could wake up tomorrow and feel great or wake up with some intense soreness.''

• With Noonan claiming the role of primary goal scorer, Nicol notes that Noonan's jack of all trades style clashes with Twellman's fox-in-the-box mentality. "Pat's more unpredictable," said Nicol. "You know what you're getting with Taylor. It's a trade-off ... Taylor and Pat are different than Khano and Pat. Maybe Khano can bring something different to the game."

• Nicol has told his star striker to just make sure he comes back healthy. "It's tough, because we don't have two Taylor Twellmans. Khano has played, but you lose that 20-goal a season guarantee ... "I told him: 'Get yourself fit and back scoring goals. Taylor's straightforward. He wants to score goals. He doesn't worry about anything else."

STATISTICS

• The Revolution have equaled the third-longest unbeaten start to a season in MLS history. The record is 12 games, set in 1996 by the Los Angeles Galaxy (12-0, 2 SOW) and in 2000 by the Kansas City Wizards (10-0-2). In 2000, the Galaxy started the season with a 6-0-5 record.

• D.C. United has a claim to the longest unbeaten record to start a season - after 90 minutes, anyway. In 1997, United lost just three of their first 14 matches - but all by shootout. United won nine of those games in normal time, going 3-2 in the post-match decider. In that happened today, United would have been 9-0-5 to start the season.

• The Revolution have taken 25 points of a possible 33 this season after 11 matches; a year ago, they had 24 points after 25 matches. The Rev ended the season with 33 points. ''I am not worried about peaking," Sharlie Joseph said to the Globe. ''We just have to work on being a consistent team, keep doing the stuff that got us undefeated, and keep doing it week in and week out. We haven't played our best soccer yet, and we are looking forward to next week."


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