Special to CSNNE.com
WASHINGTON – After trailing 1-0 at halftime, Dimitry Imbongo and Diego Fagundez scored in the second half to lead the New England Revolution to a 2-1 victory against D.C. United at RFK Stadium tonight.
Tonight’s win was the Revs’ first victory both when their opponents scored first and when trailing at the half.
Luis Silva gave United a 1-0 lead in the eighth minute when his long-distance shot snuck past Bobby Shuttleworth, but Imbongo leveled in the 55th minute and Fagundez scored his fourth game-winning goal of the year eight minutes later to lift the Revs’ to their first victory against D.C. since 2011.
Also tonight, Revs defender Kevin Alston – who has missed the last four months of the season while receiving treatment for chronic myelogenous leukemia (CML), a rare but treatable form of leukemia – returned to the field for the first time since March 30. In front of more than 50 family and friends in his hometown, Alston checked into the game in the 84th minute at left back and played the final 10 minutes of action.
After making six changes to the line-up in the last outing, head coach Jay Heaps returned to one of his more regular starting groups tonight, making four changes. Stephen McCarthy slotted back in at center back after sitting out last Saturday’s game with a head laceration. Chris Tierney returned to left back after starting at left midfield last game, while Diego Fagundez came back in to the lineup at the left wing. Lee Nguyen slotted back into central midfielder for Scott Caldwell, while Saer Sene returned to the right win after missing two games with a hip contusion.
Kyle Porter had United’s first chance in the seventh minute when he evaded several Revs defenders and advanced deep into the box, but his shot back across the face of goal was just wide of the far post.
D.C. didn’t waste time after Porter’s effort as Silva took a long through ball from John Thorrington and split the Revs defenders. On the turn, he took 25-yard dipping shot that bounced in front of Shuttleworth and past him for the goal and a 1-0 D.C. lead in the eighth minute.
Revs had their first solid chance of the night in the 36th minute. Imbongo got around D.C. defender Dejan Jakovic and broke deep into the box, where he fed Kelyn Rowe unmarked 10 yards out of goal. The midfielder tried to re-direct the ball past Joe Willis, but the goalkeeper made a diving save to prevent a sure equalizer.
The Revs had a 54.4 to 45.6 percent lead in possession at the break, but United led in shots (9-4). Both teams placed two shots on goal.
As the second half opened – with the Revs making one change (Caldwell on in the defensive midfield spot for Simms) – the Revs continued to press and had a legitimate shout for a penalty in the 51st minute. Nguyen ran into space, picked up an Imbongo square pass and raced toward Willis. Willis appeared to tackle Nguyen without making an attempt on the ball, but referee David Gantar signaled for a goal kick as Nguyen crashed out of bounds.
However the Revs didn’t take long to strike and level after that. Jose Goncalves sent a ball out wide to Tierney hugging the touchline, where he whipped an out-swinging cross into the penalty area. As Nguyen’s near-post run pulled Willis off his line, Imbongo charged in on the back post and re-directed the cross into an open goal to make the score 1-1.
New England scored the go-ahead goal in the 63rd minute and then held on for the win. Imbongo worked across the top of the penalty area and found Sene out wide near the corner of the box. The Frenchman took a couple of steps toward goal and unleashed a curling left-footed shot that beat Willis, but the shot kicked off the left corner of the crossbar. Fagundez was the only player who followed up on either team and easily headed in the rebound past a prone Willis.
Neither team threatened for the next 19 minutes before Silva and Lionard Pajoy – who came on in the 79th minute – connected in the 82nd minute. Pajoy broke through the backline and had a one-on-one opportunity against Shuttleworth, but the goalkeeper made a kick-save to preserve the Revs’ lead late.
Former Revs midfielder Sainey Nyassi had United’s last chance to earn a draw in the 86th minute, but his shot off a one-touch dribble was wide left of goal.
The Revs appeared to close the game with a final 3-1 score line when New England cleared a last-ditch D.C. corner kick in the fourth minute of stoppage time. Saer Sene picked up the ball at midfield, and with Willis up as n extra body in the box for the corner kick, dribbled close to goal and shot. However Gantar had whistled the game closed when he was at midfield and the final score line read 2-1.