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The Tie Fits New England, United

D.C.'s Poor Road Form Matched by League's Worst Home Team in Dull Game: D.C. United 0, Revolution 0

By Steven Goff
Washington Post Staff Writer
Sunday, August 29, 2004; Page E03

FOXBORO, Mass., Aug. 28 -- There were precious few memorable moments to take from D.C. United's 0-0 tie with the New England Revolution on a sweltering Saturday afternoon at Gillette Stadium. United, which can't win on the road, was better in the first half; the Revolution, MLS's worst team at home, had the finer chances in the second half; and in the end, a draw was probably the appropriate result for these equally mediocre sides.

But just when it seemed the 17,236 spectators would depart thoroughly bored and disappointed, Revolution forward Taylor Twellman and United goalkeeper Troy Perkins provided an intriguing finish.

Bryan Namoff, left, of D.C. United battles Pat Noonan. United recorded its second shutout in New England thanks to a late save by Troy Perkins. (Steven Senne -- AP)

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Two minutes into injury time, Twellman, a former Maryland Terrapin, turned on a ball at the top of the box and ripped a shot on target. Perkins, who made one superb save before halftime, reached with his 6-foot-2 frame and slapped the ball with the fingertips just hard enough to put it off the crossbar.

"It had some pace on it and was knuckling and swerving everywhere," said Perkins, who also shut out the Revolution in United's previous visit here. "If he would have hit it to the side more, I don't think I would've had a chance at it. It was within my reach and I was able to get a tip on it . . . and the crossbar helped me by putting it out instead of down."

Perkins also received some help in the 60th minute, when Twellman smashed a six-yard one-timer off the outside of the right post.

"It's a fine line between hitting the woodwork and hitting the net," Revolution Coach Steve Nichol said, "and it's just not going for him."

The result left United (6-8-9) clinging to third place in the dreary Eastern Conference but still searching for its second road victory of the year. D.C. (1-6-5 away from RFK Stadium) is making progress, though, having sneaked out of Columbus and Foxboro in consecutive weeks with ties.

Other than Perkins, United received a strong performance from forward Jaime Moreno and a pleasant starting debut from midfielder-forward Christian Gomez, who signed two weeks ago. United's injury-riddled backline kept its composure most of the match, but at the other end, the attack faded after its promising start.

"We still need to finish the chances we had in the first half," United Coach Peter Nowak said. "The second half the Revolution made a couple of changes that we didn't recognize very well. We didn't keep possession, we had trouble going forward, and Freddy [Adu] and Christian and Jaime lost too many balls upfront, our midfield wasn't mobile. . . .

"The result could go both ways. We could've lost this game, too. Troy made a couple of great saves."

United was lively and inventive at the start, drawing several corner kicks and discovering ample space between New England's slow-reacting midfield and defense. Gomez and Ben Olsen narrowly missed the lower left corner in the first 20 minutes, and Moreno and Adu were dangerous with the ball on the edges of the penalty area.

The Revolution (5-9-9) couldn't keep possession but came close to scoring when Twellman's right-side cross buzzed through the six-yard box, just out of the reach of sliding Clint Dempsey in the 17th minute. Ten minutes later, Perkins made a dazzling save with his foot on Pat Noonan's hard shot.

United threatened twice more, but Matt Reis appeared to get a touch on Moreno's angled bid to force it fractionally wide of the far post and then a minute later blocked Josh Gros's 15-yard blast.

From there, however, the match degenerated in the heat, and both teams seemed happy that no injury time was added before halftime.

"We had chances, and it was frustrating we couldn't score," United midfielder Dema Kovalenko said. "We were all over them, but I'm happy with the way we played. Of course, we would've liked to get three points [for a win], but we'll take the point."

United Notes: Midfielder Earnie Stewart wasn't recalled to the U.S. national team for qualifiers vs. El Salvador here next Saturday and Sept. 8 at Panama, but former United midfielder Bobby Convey, now with English club Reading, was called in. A 23-man roster will be announced Monday, the same day training camp opens at Harvard. . . . Defender Ezra Hendrickson didn't travel with United because of a hamstring injury. . . . Defender Mike Petke left in the 83rd minute with a leg injury, but he said it wasn't serious. . . . United will play at Chicago next weekend, then play four of its final six matches at home.

• BURN 4, FIRE 1: Eddie Johnson had two goals, and Ronnie O'Brien added a goal and two assists to lead Dallas at home.

With the four goals, Dallas (9-9-5) eclipsed its goal total for its past six games.

Nate Jacqua scored for Chicago (5-10-8), which is a point behind New England for the final Eastern Conference playoff spot.

• EARTHQUAKES 0, RAPIDS 0: Host San Jose had 13 shots, but neither team broke through.

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