D.C. United gaining steam while Revolution slipping in playoff race

WASHINGTON -- In the minutes immediately following D.C. United’s third straight victory on Saturday night, winger Lloyd Sam did something he hadn’t done for months.

“I’ve been looking at the table,” Sam said after D.C.’s 1-0 home win over the New England Revolution. “The whole season I haven’t really looked. I just checked it just there just to see, and we’re in touch of other teams now. So that looks great.

"Now I’m willing to look at the table. Before, not so much.”

Despite Luciano Acosta’s 71st-minute winner, a retooled Black-and-Red roster remains in last in the Eastern Conference, eight points beneath the playoff line with only seven matches to play.

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United’s victory on Saturday at RFK Stadium probably did more to hurt the Revs’ playoff chances than help their own, as it brought New England within a point of the bottom rung in the conference table. Even so, after three straight 1-0 victories, D.C. can at least rightly feel a part of the discussion given that they have closed to within a single game of postseason hopefuls Orlando and Philadelphia.

“I still think there’s a chance to make playoffs, obviously,” said defender Jalen Robinson. “It’s important to come in here with like that right mentality. Every time I come to practice, you just want to win. In those games, you just want to win. So we want to get these points and hopefully see where that takes us.”

Meanwhile, New England midfielder Je-Vaughn Watson said he believed there has been too little action from the Revolution as of late.

“On paper, we’re a good team,” said Watson. “But we have to go out there and show it. Every game we’re saying, 'Next game, next game.' There’s no more games now. We need to start winning to get to the playoffs.”

The Revolution have nine matches left -- two more than D.C. -- to try and make up ground, and are still awaiting on the club debut of Hungarian forward Krisztian Nemeth.

And if any team has shown what impact midseason additions can have, it was Saturday’s opponents, D.C. United. Zoltan Stieber was dangerous in his D.C. debut, while fellow new arrivals Paul Arriola and Russell Canouse continued to help link play with Acosta.

All that has D.C. as hopeful as ever, even if the table doesn’t quite reflect what they feel is the current quality of their group.

“I wish we had three or four points more than we had right now and we could see ourselves better in the standings like we are feeling on the field,” said Marcelo Sarvas. “But we are alive.”