Despite unleashing a season-high 28 shots the New England Revolution was officially eliminated from playoff contention with a 2-1 loss to D.C. United on Saturday night at RFK Stadium.
United goalkeeper Bill Hamid made five saves, including a pair of remarkable stops on Kelyn Rowe and Benny Feilhaber in the closing stages to preserve the victory for the home side. Revolution goalkeeper Matt Reis also made five saves.
Rowe scored his third goal of the season to give the Revs (7-15-7, 28 pts.) a short-lived lead in the 29th minute, but Chris Pontius hit back just three minutes later to pull D.C. (13-10-5, 44 pts.) level. Pontius then set up second-half substitute Lewis Neal’s game winner in the 63rd minute as United swept the three-game season series with the Revs.
There was one change to the Revolution lineup which claimed a 2-0 victory over the Columbus Crew last week at Gillette Stadium as Jerry Bengtson returned from international duty to replace Dimitry Imbongo, while Juan Toja made the bench for the first time since returning to MLS.
After a quiet opening, Rowe put the Revs in front with one of the game’s first real chances in the 29th minute. Diego Fagundez created the opportunity with a perfectly-weighted through ball to spring Rowe into the right side of the box, where the rookie drilled a deflected shot off the underside of the crossbar and into the back of the net.
United responded in short order, however, drawing level at 1-1 just three minutes later. Branko Boskovic did much of the work with a lengthy run through midfield before his clever back-heel teed up Pontius, who notched his team-leading 11th goal of the season with a rocket into the lower left corner from 25 yards.
Both sides had chances to grab the lead before the halftime break – Lee Nguyen and Kevin Alston went narrowly wide for the Revs, while Andy Najar forced a smart save with a 30-yard rocket for United – but the teams ultimately went to the locker rooms on level terms.
Reis kept it that way in the 61st minute with a remarkable save on Maicon Santos – sprawling low to his right to stop a one-on-one chance – but he couldn’t prevent Neal from pushing the hosts ahead in the 63rd minute. Pontius played provider on this occasion, working his way into the box before finding Neal, who placed a first-time shot inside the right post.
In search of an equalizer the Revs brought on Feilhaber and Toja in the 73rd minute, and the moves almost paid dividends six minutes later. Feilhaber was on the end of a short free kick and let fly from distance, but his drive flew inches wide of the near post.
Toja got in on the act in the 85th minute when his delicate chip sent Rowe into the box, but Hamid charged off his line to make a crucial save. The D.C. goalkeeper came up big again just moments later, denying Feilhaber from close range as the hosts clung to the one-goal victory.
The Revs return home next weekend for another Eastern Conference showdown with the New York Red Bulls, who’ll visit Gillette Stadium on Saturday, Sept. 22.