WASHINGTON – After about half an hour, the New England Revolution seemed on course to extract a result at RFK Stadium. They had kept D.C. United largely at bay, and at times even managed to dictate play through early stretches of the match.
It all came unraveled fairly quickly, though.
In the stretch of three minutes, the Revs were on the wrong end of a controversial penalty call and an untimely injury, both of which contributed greatly to their undoing. They were never particularly competitive afterwards, dropping the match, 3-0.
“Tough game, not our best performance,” a clearly frustrated Revs head coach Jay Heaps said after the match. “I got to look on film. I’m not exactly sure [what went wrong]. We weren’t in sync. We started the game well, I felt like we were going to play well and unfortunately we played about 30 minutes [then] after the PK call, we put our heads down and didn’t react very well.”
That PK call was the source of some debate after the match. In the 33rd minute, United midfielder Marcelo Sarvas collected the ball at the far edge of the penalty area and seemingly paused to draw contact. Revs defender Je-Vaughn Watson’s ensuing awkward challenge was enough to draw a PK call from referee Alan Kelly.
“I didn’t like [the call],” Heaps said. “I thought it was soft. But, again, that’s my opinion.”
Added Watson: “If you ask Sarvas, honestly, he will tell you it’s not a penalty. And he told me [that], too. But, this is the game. What can I do? I’m a player, the referee decides it’s a penalty and that’s it.”
Sarvas, for his part, told the media in attendance after the match that he felt it was a deserved penalty.
The PK call only added to the Revolution’s misery. Moments earlier, left back Chris Tierney had left the match with a left hamstring strain, changing the Revolution’s gameplan significantly. Watson, the offender on the PK call, shifted to the left, while London Woodberry was inserted at right back.
It was not a dynamic that served New England well.
“I mean, of course [it made a difference],” said Revolution defender Jose Goncalves. “You have a guy [in Tierney] who we use a lot, who can serve some great balls in the box and change the course of the game. It was pretty early in the game and we had to get our mind back into the game. We knew it was going to be tough, playing away here.”
Added Heaps: “It shouldn’t influence it as much as it did, but it did. We had to make a couple moves across the back line. But again, on the night, we weren’t good enough.”