D.C. United put a confident end to the New England Revolution's unbeaten streak to the 2005 season, claiming a 2-0 victory on the strength of well-taken goals from Santino Quaranta and Jaime Moreno.
It was the second victory in four days for United -- a first of the year after a pair of losses to their now-fierce rivals -- and sent notice to the rest of the league that they will not be conceding their title without a fight.
United opened the scoring after just 10 minutes, taking advantage of a misplay as Christian Gomez's bending free kick from the right wing was startlingly misplayed by Revs netminder Matt Reis.
The normally rock-solid 'keeper flapped at the high service to the far post, allowing it to fall to Quaranta, who did well to head the bouncing ball over the desperate leap of New England defender Jay Heaps on the line. Heaps somehow got a touch but couldn't stop the goal.
But before the crowd could even sit down, Moreno produced a sublime move that all but embarrassed three New England defenders as they buzzed around him at the edge of the Revs box, doubling the D.C. lead in the process.
As United pushed forward again, the Bolivian received a Quaranta pass in the left inside channel and turned upfield, but found himself harried by Dempsey and Heaps, with Michael Parkhurst approaching. Moreno stepped forward, then cut right sharply, leaving the rookie center back grasping at air as the wiley veteran took another touch to his right and coolly slotted his shot underneath the advancing Reis.
Later in the first half, Moreno had two more gilt-edged chances to add to his tally, first on a deflected through ball from Gomez and later when Parkhurst slipped and fell under pressure in the 36th minute. But Reis stepped up and redeemed his earlier gaffe by stoning the United veteran on both breakaways, leaving Moreno staring at the evening sky in frustration.
As is typically the case at RFK, United owned the lion's share of possession for the remainder of the half, knocking it about without much incisiveness, while New England seemed content to ride out the time and cut their losses.
The second half began more cagily than the first, as United seemed content to keep the ball and sit on their lead. But the Black-and-Red clearly remained cognizant of the visitors' attacking threat and gradually conceded possession as the match wore on, dropping back more readily and absorbing New England's increasingly desperate forays. United 'keeper Nick Rimando was put to the test time and time again, but he took the game on his shoulders and stood tall under pressure.
First, he showed a glimpse of his trademark athleticism in the 55th minute, leaping headlong off his line to snag a Marshall Leonard cross with one hand and smother the ball just before a sliding Noonan arrived.
Later, Rimando denied Dorman, who was making an impression with his work in the center of the park after coming on at the half. He almost made Revs coach Steve Nicol look like a genius when he saw Rimando a bit off his line in the 58th minute and tried to punish the D.C. 'keeper with a delicate, curling shot from the top of the United 18-yard box, but Rimando did well to throw himself backwards and tip the effort onto the top of the crossbar.
In the 66th minute, Khano Smith was well-positioned to score when he floated to the right side of the D.C. six-yard box and received a pass from Dorman, but Rimando read his near post intentions and gobbled up the shot. Then a few minutes later, second-half sub Connally Edozien gave Rimando a scare when his header rattled the woodwork in the upper corner, but the ball bounded away and the clean sheet survived.
Rimando didn't need any help guarding his net against Steve Ralston when the veteran winger made two great chances after the 75-minute mark, first palming away a fiercely struck shot bound for the upper corner, then diving to his right to tip a low effort to safety.
In the dying moments, the home crowd's jubilation was dampened by a frightening collision between Reis and D.C. substitute Alecko Eskandarian as the duo jousted for a high ball. The Revs 'keeper leaped high over Eskandarian to make the save, but he clipped his head with his boots as he soared past. The United striker suffered an apparent concussion, the only blemish on an otherwise thrilling victory for United.
MLSnet.com Man of the Match: Nick Rimando (D.C. United)
Charles Boehm is a contributor to MLSnet.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Soccer or its clubs.
New England Revolution (7-1-4) vs. D.C. United (5-4-4)
June 18, 2005 -- RFK Stadium
DC -- Santino Quaranta 2 (Christian Gomez 2) 10
DC -- Jaime Moreno 6 (Santino Quaranta 2) 12
New England Revolution -- Matt Reis, Jay Heaps, Michael Parkhurst, Joe Franchino, Steve Ralston, Jose Cancela (Andy Dorman 46), Clint Dempsey, Shalrie Joseph, Marshall Leonard (James Riley 71), Pat Noonan, Khano Smith (Connally Edozien 67).
Substitutes Not Used: Cassio, Doug Warren.
TOTAL SHOTS: 16 (Steve Ralston 4); SHOTS ON GOAL: 10 (Pat Noonan 3); FOULS: 14 (3 tied with 3); OFFSIDES: 4 (Pat Noonan 2); CORNER KICKS: 1 (Andy Dorman 1); SAVES: 5 (Matt Reis 5)
D.C. United -- Nick Rimando, Brandon Prideaux, Bobby Boswell, John Wilson (David Stokes 46), Dema Kovalenko, Brian Carroll, Christian Gomez (Clyde Simms 58), Ben Olsen, Joshua Gros, Jaime Moreno, Santino Quaranta (Alecko Eskandarian 73).
Substitutes Not Used: Kenny Arena, Nana Kuffour, Shawn Kuykendall, Troy Perkins, Jason Thompson, Jamil Walker.
TOTAL SHOTS: 12 (Santino Quaranta 5); SHOTS ON GOAL: 7 (Jaime Moreno 3, Santino Quaranta 3); FOULS: 15 (Jaime Moreno 3, Ben Olsen 3); OFFSIDES: 5 (Jaime Moreno 2); CORNER KICKS: 2 (Christian Gomez 2); SAVES: 10 (Nick Rimando 10)
DC -- Nick Rimando (caution; Game Disrepute) 49
DC -- Joshua Gros (caution; Pushing, Holding) 50
NE -- Shalrie Joseph (caution; Dissent) 75
Referee: Brian Hall
Referee's Assistants: -Craig Lowry; Jose Corro
4th Official: Ben Jones
Time of Game: 1:50
Weather: Partly Cloudy-and-78-degrees
All statistics contained in this boxscore are unofficial.