FOXBOROUGH, Mass. — D.C. United had legitimate concerns about the officiating during a 2-1 loss to New England on Saturday, a non-call that led to the Revolution’s first goal and a questionable decision that resulted in the second, both in the first 17 minutes.
But while some players expressed disgust with referee Baldomero Toledo, they were also introspective, blaming lackluster commitment and faulty execution.
United’s Charlie Davies continued his resurgence, entering at halftime and converting a penalty kick in the waning moments for his third goal in just 83 minutes this season.
“The way we started the game, it looked like we thought we had arrived because we had one game at home that we were fairly good,” Coach Ben Olsen said. “All week we preached about moving on and making sure the same energy and commitment was there. That’s what professionals do; they show up week in and week out. We didn’t do our part.”
The absence of three starters — Perry Kitchen is with the U.S. under-20 national team, and Jed Zayner and Clyde Simms are nursing injuries — played a part. But the sluggish start, combined with Toledo’s decisions, altered the game and forced United to change tactics.
“While their goals were questionable, we should’ve done better,” captain Dax McCarty said. “Maybe we deserved to be down.”
The Revolution went ahead in the eighth minute when Shalrie Joseph dropped a long ball to Zack Schilawski in stride in a gaping central channel. After Schilawski gained possession, he knocked the ball down with his left arm, providing a clear advantage.
The assistant referee didn’t see it and Toledo allowed play to continue. Retreating defender Marc Burch blocked the initial shot, but Schilawski struck in the rebound from nine yards. United players fumed. The goal stood.
The visitors were seething again when Toledo awarded a penalty kick. United was unable to clear, and as McCarty tried to volley the ball from danger, Pat Phelan came flying in. In disrupting McCarty’s attempt, Phelan tumbled.
“I just had a step,” Phelan said, “and beat him to it.”
United players swarmed Toledo. After order was restored, United goalkeeper Pat Onstad got his left hand on Joseph’s bid but couldn’t prevent it from streaking into the corner.
Aside from disagreeing about the call, McCarty believed Toledo handled the situation poorly.
“I asked him what the foul was,” McCarty said. “He just looked at me and said something that sounded like jibberish. . . . It’s truly unbelievable, some guys’ ways of handling situations. He gets the call wrong on the first goal and he owes us one. And to give up a penalty like that where it’s extremely questionable, what can you do?”
After benefiting from two sequences, the Revolution unleashed its fury at Toledo in the 28th minute for failing to caution or eject United defender Rodrigo Brasesco for elbowing Zak Boggs in the head. Boggs was treated for several minutes and did not return.
In need of goals, Olsen switched to a 3-5-2 formation from a 4-4-2 after halftime, swapping forwards (Davies for Josh Wolff) and adding an attacker (Fred) for a defender (Brasesco). United was exposed in the back and fortunate not to slip into a deeper deficit.
United discovered a rhythm but faltered around the box. Olsen made his final move in the 74th, adding another attacker (Santino Quaranta) for a defensive midfielder (Kurt Morsink). With the Revolution sitting back, United pressed the issue, and Pontius’s low drive tested diving goalkeeper Matt Reis.
In added time, Toledo awarded a penalty to United after spotting contact in the box. Davies converted, but United didn’t threatened again. Defender Dejan Jakovic was ejected after a scuffle involving several players, meaning he will miss next Sunday’s trip to Colorado. “I didn’t hit anyone,” he said.
Said Olsen: “I hope we learned a lesson, that in this league you have to match energy, you have to match commitment, and then we can become the team want to be.”