The last time D.C. United and the New England Revolution met, it was an epic battle that went down as one of the best games in MLS history. This time around, the two clubs picked up right where they left off as the Revolution held on to claim a 4-3 victory on Saturday night at RFK Stadium.
The visitors scored three goals in a first-half onslaught before Jaime Moreno scored the first of his two penalty kicks to pull United closer before the halftime break. But a pair of United goals in the second half sandwiched a Clint Dempsey header that was the match-winner for the Revs and kept them unbeaten on the season.
On a very wet field that had players routinely slipping and sliding, United put the Revs on their heels early on, aggressively pushing forward using accurate long balls and springing players with balls to the corners. D.C. nearly connected on an Alecko Eskandarian one-time volley in the opening minute, and on another good chance from Eskandarian in the 13th minute that Matt Reis blocked away with relative ease.
But it wasn't long before the Revolution found their stride offensively as well. Revs striker Taylor Twellman, involved throughout the first half as he regularly collected balls and applied pressure on the United defense, found himself one-on-one with United 'keeper Nick Rimando in the seventh minute, but didn't connect cleanly on the shot attempt.
Twellman's doggedness finally paid off in the 26th minute, when he received a perfectly placed ball from Dempsey on the right flank, turned and tucked a low shot into the left corner of the goal past an outstretched Rimando for his second goal of the young season.
Less than two minutes later, the Revolution found the back of the net again and put United in a deep hole. Twellman drew a foul on United defender Bobby Boswell on a high ball in front of the six-yard box on a 28th minute. Referee Mark Geiger gave a penalty kick and midfielder Shalrie Joseph left no doubt as he confidently connected from the spot.
Then, only three minutes later, rookie outside midfielder James Riley, making his second MLS start, carried the ball brilliantly through the center of the United defense, and found his midfield mate Marshall Leonard all alone inside the box. Leonard collected the pass from Riley, and silenced the usually raucous D.C. crowd with a fierce left-footed finish from 12 yards out into the right corner of the goal.
But Riley helped give one back to the home team as the first half entered extra time and United went into attack mode to try to cut into the lead going into the locker room.
A late sliding tackle inside the box from Riley on United's Santino Quaranta, who replaced defender David Stokes after he suffered a concussion in the 30th minute, led to a second penalty kick call from Geiger. Moreno left no doubt, putting a line drive shot to the left of a diving Reis.
The second half saw more open play, with both teams looking for opportunities to convert, but D.C. had the bulk of the chances. As the rain began pounding down on the players, United nearly connected in the 51st minute when Moreno carried the ball deep into the box and played a low cross behind the Revolution defense that rolled inches in front of the goal mouth, but a streaking Quaranta couldn't quite get his foot on the ball to put it away.
Quaranta didn't wait long to make amends, though. In the 57th minute, United midfielder Steve Guppy received a ball from second half substitute Freddy Adu, and played it across to Quaranta, who put a clever one-time ball past a stunned Reis from the near post.
United nearly knotted the score on a Mike Petke header in the 65th minute, which bounced off the crossbar and out for a goal kick -- mere moments after a Moreno diving header was deflected just wide of the goal by Revs defender Avery John.
But in the 77th minute, the Revolution attempted to quiet any thoughts of United getting a point when Dempsey found the right corner of the goal on a diving header off a beautiful freekick swung from the right flank by substitute Andy Dorman, who came on for Jose Cancela in the 65th minute.
But the Black-and-Red wouldn't go away. An unfortunate handball in the 82nd minute was whistled on Leonard, who was all alone on the left side of the box on the back end of a Clyde Simms cross. Geiger again gave United a penalty kick -- which Moreno again effortlessly converted.
Stoppage time saw a few more good United chances fail to find the back of the net, and New England escaped with the victory to remain unbeaten on the 2005 campaign.
MLSnet.com Man of the Match: Taylor Twellman (New England Revolution)
Omar Garriott is a contributor to MSLnet.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Soccer or its clubs.
New England Revolution (2-0-1) vs. D.C. United (1-2-1)
April 23, 2005 -- RFK Stadium
NE -- Taylor Twellman 2 (Clint Dempsey 2) 26
NE -- Shalrie Joseph 1 (penalty kick) 28
NE -- Marshall Leonard 1 (James Riley 2) 31
DC -- Jaime Moreno 1 (penalty kick) 50+
DC -- Santino Quaranta 1 (Steve Guppy 1, Freddy Adu 1) 57
NE -- Clint Dempsey 2 (Andy Dorman 1) 77
DC -- Jaime Moreno 2 (penalty kick) 82
New England Revolution -- Matt Reis, Jay Heaps, James Riley, Michael Parkhurst, Avery John, Marshall Leonard, Jose Cancela (Andy Dorman 66), Clint Dempsey, Shalrie Joseph, Pat Noonan, Taylor Twellman.
Substitutes Not Used: Connally Edozien, Ryan Latham, Luke Vercollone, Doug Warren.
TOTAL SHOTS: 10 (Taylor Twellman 3); SHOTS ON GOAL: 7 (Taylor Twellman 3); FOULS: 18 (Marshall Leonard 4); OFFSIDES: 2 (Pat Noonan 1, Taylor Twellman 1); CORNER KICKS: 3 (Jose Cancela 3); SAVES: 3 (Matt Reis 3)
D.C. United -- Nick Rimando, David Stokes (Santino Quaranta 30), Bobby Boswell, Mike Petke, Joshua Gros, Brian Carroll, Christian Gomez, Ben Olsen, Steve Guppy (Clyde Simms 64), Alecko Eskandarian (Freddy Adu 46), Jaime Moreno.
Substitutes Not Used: Kenny Arena, Troy Perkins, Eliseo Quintanilla, Jason Thompson, Nick Van Sicklen, Jamil Walker.
TOTAL SHOTS: 14 (Jaime Moreno 4); SHOTS ON GOAL: 6 (Jaime Moreno 3); FOULS: 18 (Ben Olsen 5); OFFSIDES: 4 (Steve Guppy 3); CORNER KICKS: 7 (Christian Gomez 4); SAVES: 3 (Nick Rimando 3)
DC -- Brian Carroll (caution; Reckless Foul) 24
NE -- James Riley (caution; Reckless Foul) 34
NE -- Pat Noonan (caution; Dissent) 50+
DC -- Ben Olsen (caution; Reckless Foul) 79
NE -- Clint Dempsey (caution; Reckless Foul) 86
Referee: Mark Geiger
Referee's Assistants: Greg Barkey; Bill Dittmar
4th Official: Alex Prus
Time of Game: 1:56
All Statistics contained in this boxscore are unofficial.