D.C. United Gets Help in Ending Slide
United 1, Revolution 0
By Steven Goff
Washington Post Staff Writer
Sunday, May 30, 2004; Page E01
FOXBORO, Mass., May 29 -- D.C. United turned an early own goal by a former teammate, superb goalkeeping by rookie Troy Perkins and poor finishing by New England into a 1-0 victory over the Revolution on Saturday night before a crowd of 19,314 at Gillette Stadium, including Attorney General John D. Ashcroft.
Despite playing without three star players, United (3-4-3) played a quality first half and a sloppy but effective counterattacking second half to snap a two-game losing streak and earn its first win on the road.
"We didn't play like we wanted to play, but we've played a couple of pretty games this year where we haven't gotten the results," midfielder Earnie Stewart said. "Today we did, so we're a happy group right now."
Perkins, who played for the low minor league Cape Cod Crusaders the previous three seasons, continued his rise from undrafted third-stringer at the start of the year to No. 1 keeper by making a marvelous save early in the second half and controlling the penalty area as the Revolution pumped in one long ball after another.
He was also fortunate in the 51st minute when Taylor Twellman, the Revolution's top scoring threat, sent a penalty kick off the outside of the right post. If the ball had been on target, the 6-foot-2 Perkins might've stopped it because he had anticipated the direction of Twellman's shot and reacted quickly to stretch almost to the post.
"I was there," he said. "If he had hit the target, I'm pretty sure I would've made the save."
Ten minutes later, Twellman stung a low 18-yard shot that Perkins tipped away by diving to his left.
"That was just a reaction save there," said Perkins, who made his MLS debut last week in a 2-1 loss at Colorado. "Every save you make boosts your confidence, but the game was just ugly, and anything can happen. You've got to keep your head in it, but that [save] helped a lot."
United's starting lineup had another new look this week following the departures of all-star defender Ryan Nelsen for New Zealand's World Cup qualifying effort and defensive midfielder Dema Kovalenko to Spain for a tribute match honoring former teammate Hristo Stoitchkov. Leading scorer Jaime Moreno remained home with a sore quadriceps, but United welcomed back midfielders Ben Olsen and Bobby Convey, who had missed a few games each with leg injuries.
Besides Perkins, Coach Peter Nowak started two other rookies: midfielder Josh Gros and forward Freddy Adu, who took a beating from the Revolution defenders and left 11 minutes into the second half.
"Man, it was brutal out there," said Adu, nursing sore ankles and a cut inside his mouth. Adu had a lot of space in which to work on the left side, getting into the one-on-one situations he covets, but the Revolution contained him well inside the box, and his shooting, he admitted, was subpar.
United nearly went ahead after 30 seconds. Stewart delivered a long ball toward a hard-charging Ronald Cerritos, who tapped it past the advancing Matt Reis at the top of the box. Reis's momentum took him into Cerritos, but to the amazement of the D.C. coaching staff, no foul or red card was called, and a defender cleared the ball out of danger.
But United did take the lead three minutes later with a little help from New England defender Brian Kamler. A misplayed ball by the Revolution's Marshall Leonard (University of Virginia) allowed Stewart a free run on the right. He sent the ball across the six-yard box, where Cerritos was approaching, but Kamler, a former United player, got a piece of it and accidentally redirected the ball past Reis.
The Revolution had a golden chance to tie it in the seventh minute, but Twellman missed fractionally wide from 18 yards. In the 43rd minute, Clint Dempsey, New England's impressive rookie midfielder, lashed a 22-yard attempt just off target. United wasn't finished as Stewart set up Olsen for a one-timer that Reis snagged at the left post just before intermission.
© 2004 The Washington Post Company