As forward Alvaro Saborio botched a breakaway and winger Fabian Espindola mishit a pair of promising crosses, D.C. United looked the part of having the Eastern Conference’s least potent offense. For a team starving to score for the first time this month, the early missed opportunities only added to an increasingly unsatisfied appetite for goals. Against a New England defense content to sit back, United sensed a breakthrough.
It arrived in the 20th minute, when Lamar Neagle’s right-footed blast found the top corner. Seven minutes later, Neagle assisted on Sean Franklin’s goal as United buried New England, 2-0, at RFK Stadium. United broke a goalless streak of more than 200 minutes in league play.
“That was the rhetoric all week — be aggressive. We’re at home and we’re pushing them and making sure they’re uncomfortable. That’s not by sitting back,” United Coach Ben Olsen said. “It’s good to score some goals. We were dangerous. . . . Just a good night.”
United opened the scoring when midfielder Luciano Acosta received a short throw-in, skipped by a defender outside the top left corner of the box and lofted a cross toward the back post. United defender Kofi Opare drew two New England players in front of goal, leaving Neagle free to lash a volley to open the scoring.
[United’s Bobby Boswell suspended one game]
In the 27th minute, Neagle turned provider. After a patient spell of possession, the midfielder met a through ball down the right wing and sent a first-time cross to the goal mouth. Right back Franklin ended a half-field sprint by touching the cross into the roof of the net for his first goal of the season.
“The buildup to the second goal was great. We hadn’t put together a back-to-front attack like that in a while, so that was encouraging,” Olsen said. “I’m looking forward to building off of this.”
In central defense, D.C. United was without first-choice starters Steve Birnbaum (U.S. national team) and Bobby Boswell (one-game suspension ). In relief, Opare lined up alongside 22-year-old Maryland native and homegrown academy product Jalen Robinson, who made his first career start. The duo helped hold New England to four shots on goal.
“It was a good 90 minutes for me,” Robinson said. “To get a ‘dub’ at home, you make it a fortress. That’s the whole point to make RFK a fortress, and that was a good start to do so.”
New England striker Kei Kamara, who tied for the MLS lead in scoring last season, tested Robinson’s inexperience with off-ball movement and physicality. In the 12th minute, Robinson sent Kamara tumbling to the turf after the striker tried to bully his way into position to receive a cross.
“I’m proud of him. I’ve seen this kid grow for quite a while, and it hasn’t been an easy road,” Olsen said. “For him to get out there and play the way he did tonight against some pretty accomplished forwards in this league is fun.”
[D.C. United schedule, results]
In the 42nd minute, Kamara broke free down the left side of the box for New England’s best chance of the match. As United goalkeeper Bill Hamid (four saves) braced himself for a one-on-one save, Robinson recovered and blocked the shot, earning an embrace from his grateful goalkeeper.
“You’re supposed to cover your other defender; I was covering Kofi. Fortunately, I got a block on it,” Robinson said. “Hamid talked to me the whole week. He gave me confidence. He was like, ‘I’m going to talk to you, just make sure you look at your marks, you’re going to be all right.’ ”
With the result, United (5-6-5) jumps from seventh to fifth in the Eastern Conference standings. The Revolution fell to 4-5-7 overall. United will begin a four-game road trip Friday at Salt Lake and will not return to RFK until July 31 against Montreal.
“Now we’re going to switch our mentality a little bit. It’s going to be a long month. Everybody is going to have to do their part in order for us to look back on this month and say we did pretty well considering we have four away games,” Olsen said. “But I like our group. I think we’ll be fine.”