D.C. United remained winless on the road in MLS’s regular season Saturday night, dropping a 2-1 decision to the New England Revolution at Gillette Stadium.
The officiating did not help United’s cause.
With United (3-20-6) ahead 1-0 on a first-half own goal — its first away lead in a league match since last fall — defender Dejan Jakovic appeared to make a fair challenge on Lee Nguyen in the box. Referee Jose Carlos Rivero, however, awarded a penalty kick.
Bill Hamid rose to the occasion, smothering Nguyen’s bid. But a moment later, Diego Fagundez latched onto a through ball behind the D.C. defense. It was a close play and, on slow-motion replay, Fagundez appeared a shade offside. The assistant referee’s flag remained down. The 18-year-old attacker beat Hamid with a low shot to the far corner for his 11th goal of the season.
There were no complaints about New England’s go-ahead goal in the 83rd minute — just exasperation after another gut-wrenching turn of events.
Substitute Conor Doyle had nearly put United ahead, popping a soft shot over the stranded Matt Reis, but the keeper scrambled back and slapped the ball out of danger an instant before it crossed the goal line.
Twenty-eight seconds later, beaten on the right side of the box, United’s Lewis Neal took down Nguyen. Rivero got this call right.
Despite faltering on the earlier try, Nguyen waved off two teammates and stepped up to take the second penalty. Hamid committed in the same direction as the first one, but Nguyen gently guided the ball into the other end.
United is 0-12-3 in regular season away matches this year with five goals for and 25 against.
When New England’s Scott Caldwell redirected Luis Silva‘s cross into his own net in the 11th minute, United claimed its first lead in 1,363 minutes of league play on the road since Hamdi Salihi‘s late goal at Toronto FC on Oct. 6, 2012.
(United did score first in each of the two away playoff matches last fall and won at Chicago in the U.S. Open Cup this summer.)
Nguyen was a persistent threat. In the second half, he sent a 25-yard blast off the crossbar, collected the rebound and had his second effort saved by the fully extended Hamid. Later, Hamid made a fingertip save on Saer Sene‘s 23-yard bid.
The Revolution improved to 11-11-7. United’s 20th defeat equaled the club record, set in 2010.
Next for United: at Toronto next Saturday afternoon, then at Real Salt Lake on Oct. 1 for the U.S. Open Cup final.
Full highlights available through this link.
Embedded video of …
… the own goal:
… Fagundez’s equalizer:
… Nguyen’s successful PK: