But United also faced a deficit much of the second half because, despite New England playing with 10 men, D.C. conceded Juan Agudelo’s header.
D.C. needed until the 90th minute to pull even. Rooney converted a penalty kick after video replay revealed a handball in the box.
“I’m going to put my optimistic hat on and say it’s a good point on the road,” Coach Ben Olsen said. “They are a dangerous team. It’s a hard place to play. The turf stinks. And historically it’s been hard to grab points here.”
Mostly fair points. But for the second consecutive weekend, a D.C. match flipped from glory to gory in a matter of minutes, from three probable points to one or none, from first-place certainty to a muddled race.
United has not won in Foxborough since April 2012 (0-3-5). Nonetheless, United (7-4-4) moved a point ahead of Philadelphia (7-4-3) atop MLS’s Eastern Conference. The New York Red Bulls and Montreal Impact are four points back.
Defeat was near, but after being alerted by the video assistant referee to a possible infraction, head official David Gantar went to the sideline to watch the replay. What he saw was Brandon Bye raising his arm to block Steve Birnbaum’s volley.
Rooney then fired the penalty kick to the left side of the net for his team-best eighth goal.
United was happier about this outcome than last weekend’s 2-1 defeat in Houston, a game that turned on two Dynamo goals in less than two minutes of the second half.
United was close to full strength, the exception being midfielder Paul Arriola, who was red-carded last week at Houston. He received an automatic one-game suspension, and on Friday, MLS’s disciplinary committee extended the ban for an additional match, Wednesday against visiting Chicago.
New England (3-8-4) has shown signs of life after the firing of coach Brad Friedel, beating San Jose and earning a draw at Montreal under interim boss Mike Lapper. Bruce Arena, the most decorated coach in league history, was hired last week and will begin working the sideline in a week or two.
Arena, who guided United to MLS Cup titles in 1996-97, was an observer Saturday. He stayed at the same hotel as United and had breakfast with Olsen, who played for Arena at the University of Virginia and with United.
In its first of five matches on artificial turf this season, United seemed much more comfortable in possession than in two previous performances on grass. Possession was ample — a 63-37 percent advantage in the first half, 68-32 overall — and the buildup was promising but a killer pass in the final third of the field was missing.
The match swung fully in United’s favor in the 56th minute when Turner charged out of the box to disrupt an opportunity for Rooney behind the defense. Instead, Turner annihilated the Englishman and was sent off.
Rooney was treated on the field and returned to action. Asked afterward what hurt the most, he said, “A bit of everything – chest, shoulder, a bit of me face. I’m sure he meant no harm in it. He just misjudged it.”
On the ensuing sequence, backup keeper Brad Knighton read Rooney’s free kick well and punched out the 20-yard bid.
Moments later, the Revolution went ahead. United’s Russell Canouse did not put enough pressure on Cristian Penilla, who lifted a high ball to the back post. Agudelo beat Marquinhos Pedroso to the header and nodded the ball into the near corner for the stunning lead.
Last week, Pedroso was at fault on a similar sequence that led to Houston’s tiebreaking goal, allowing Tommy McNamara to beat him to a cross on the back side.
“It was like a punch for us, but we kept building our game,” Pedroso said. “Fortunately, we got one.”
United applied heavy pressure, then received help from video replay.
“We don’t do so well on the play in a few areas, and they hit us,” Olsen said. “But we responded. We understood what we needed to do.”
Notes: Rookie defender Donovan Pines (sprained knee ligament) has resumed workouts and might rejoin the game-day roster next Saturday against San Jose, Olsen said. Pines will miss a fifth consecutive match Wednesday. …
Three days after scoring in the friendly against Spain’s Real Betis, Griffin Yow, 16, traveled with the team but did not play. …
Midfielder Chris Durkin played 90 minutes in the United States’ 2-1 defeat to Ukraine at the Under-20 World Cup in Poland. The Americans will play group leader Nigeria on Monday. …
On Thursday, United will learn the opponent and venue for the U.S. Open Cup’s round of 32, the entry point for MLS teams. The match will take place June 11 or 12.