A late Wayne Rooney penalty kick salvaged D.C. United a point against a shorthanded New England Revolution side in Week 12 at Gillette Stadium, as the Eastern Conference sides played to a 1-1 draw. The result, combined with a Philadelphia home loss, left DC all alone atop the Eastern Conference in Week 13.
After a first half with quality chances few and far between, the match sparked to life in the 56th minute. That’s when Revs' goalkeeper Matt Turner was shown a straight red card after cleaning out Rooney on a ball over the top, denying the Designated Player a clear goal-scoring opportunity.
Despite having a man advantage, D.C. succumbed first when Juan Agudelo headed home in the 61st minute. The Revs’ striker got on the end of a lofted cross from Cristian Penilla for his second goal in the team’s last three games.
Pressing for an equalizer, D.C.’s breakthrough finally came in the 90th minute when Rooney’s spot kick had too much power for Brad Knighton, a second-half substitute after Turner was dismissed. The spot kick arrived after a Video Review decision judged that a Steven Birnbaum shot hit Brandon Bye’s outstretched hand.
- THE BIG PICTURE: D.C. United is now winless in three straight league games and lacked the final touch during the run of play, even when up a man for the majority of the second half. The Black-and-Red have two goals during that stretch, with both provided by Wayne Rooney. As for New England, the bright side is they’re three games unbeaten since Brad Friedel was dismissed, showing that the 2019 season is not lost. Bruce Arena, their new head coach/sporting director, is also expected to oversee practice this coming week. He observed the game in person.
- MOMENT OF THE MATCH: The Wayne Rooney penalty kick certainly deserves a shout, but the entire match hinged on Matt Turner’s red card in the 56th minute. For a team near rock bottom of the Eastern Conference standings, it would have been easy for the Revs to collapse or hold on for dear life. Rather, they took the game to D.C. with an inspired performance and would have likely taken all three points if not for the late Video Review call.
- MAN OF THE MATCH: During his halftime interview, interim head coach Mike Lapper spoke of the need to get Cristian Penilla more involved in the game. That message clearly got across, as Penilla not only set up Juan Agudelo’s header, but was a constant outlet with New England down to 10 men. Sometimes criticized for not putting in the defensive work, he was particularly active on both sides of the ball.