Saer Sène and A.J. Soares scored two minutes apart early in the second half to briefly put the New England Revolution on level terms, but substitute Maicon Santos responded for D.C. United with the game-winning goal in the 61st minute as the Revs suffered a 3-2 loss on Saturday night at RFK Stadium.
Brandon McDonald and Dejan Jakovic converted a pair of set-piece goals to give United (8-4-3, 27 pts.) a 2-0 halftime lead, but Sène and Soares struck in the 48th and 50th minutes as the Revs (4-7-1, 13 pts.) evened the score in short order. It took D.C. just 11 minutes to respond, however, as Santos scored four minutes after coming off the bench to secure all three points.
The loss dropped the Revolution’s road record to 1-6-0, while United improved to 6-1-2 at home and climbed into first place in the Eastern Conference.
Former D.C. midfielder Clyde Simms missed out on the chance to return to RFK Stadium as he was sidelined for a second straight match with left ankle tendonitis, but former United forward Blake Brettschneider started for New England after not making the game day roster for the previous meeting in April.
The home side opened the scoring with the game’s first real chance in the 15th minute. From the center circle, Branko Boskovic delivered a curling free kick into the box, where McDonald rose above his marker and sent a looping header over Revolution goalkeeper Matt Reis and into the far upper corner.
New England was then forced into an early change when Ryan Guy came off with a right calf injury in the 28th minute. Fernando Cardenas replaced Guy and slotted into a right-wing role, pushing Benny Feilhaber into the middle.
Feilhaber almost created the equalizing goal in the 38th minute when his long through ball split the United backline and sent Sène streaking down the right wing. Sène shifted his body and delivered a shot with his left foot, but D.C. goalkeeper Bill Hamid got just enough of the ball to force it inches wide of the right post.
United took advantage of Hamid’s timely stop by doubling the lead to 2-0 in first-half stoppage time. The play originated from a corner kick and after Andy Najar’s header pinballed around the box, Jakovic pounced to slot home from close range.
It didn’t take long for the Revs to turn the tables in the second half, however, as the visitors erased the two-goal deficit to level the score at 2-2 within five minutes of the break.
Sène scored the Revolution’s first in the 48th minute, bringing his team-leading haul up to seven on the season. Feilhaber’s drive from 20 yards was pushed away by Hamid but straight into the path of Sène, who finished calmly into the vacant net from eight yards out.
Spurred on by the initial goal, the Revs bagged a second through Soares in the 50th minute. Chris Tierney’s corner kick was whipped to the near post, where Soares eluded his marker and sent a deft header inside the far post to register his second career goal.
New England almost had a third in the 56th minute when a clever pass from Cardenas put Sène one-on-one with Hamid, but the D.C. ‘keeper got a hand on the ball as Sène tried to round him.
Santos came off the bench to restore United’s lead in the 61st minute of the back-and-forth affair, finishing off a give-and-go with Dwayne De Rosario. The sequence began with Santos slipping De Rosario into the left channel and finished with the Brazilian burying the return pass with a low finish from the middle of the box.
The Revolution’s best chance to equalize came in the 90th minute when Tierney’s left-wing cross found substitute Kelyn Rowe for a powerful header, but Hamid came up with a huge save to tip the ball over the crossbar and ensure victory for D.C.
The Revs will be back in action on Tuesday, May 29, when they visit the Harrisburg City Islanders (USL-PRO) in the third round of the 2012 Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup. Kickoff from Skyline Sports Complex is set for 7 p.m. League play resumes next weekend when the Revs host the Chicago Fire on Saturday, June 2.