WASHINGTON – The New England Revolution dug itself into an early hole on Saturday night at RFK Stadium, but an inspired second-half response helped the Revs climb out in a critical, come-from-behind, 2-1 victory over D.C. United.
A poor first-half performance from the Revolution was punished as Luis Silva scored in the eighth minute to hand the home side a deserved lead at the break. But the Revs made a few tactical adjustments at halftime – including bringing on influential rookie Scott Caldwell – and reaped the benefits as Dimitry Imbongo leveled things up and Diego Fagundez notched the eventual game-winner in a pivotal 10-minute stretch.
“We didn’t have a good first half, to be very honest. We weren’t following the game plan. We weren’t playing very well,” said head coach Jay Heaps. “We had to adapt a little bit, but I thought we were able to make the right changes and the little subtleties in the second half that gave us more opportunities.”
One of those subtle changes involved getting the ball wide to New England’s wingers and overlapping outside backs. Heaps noted that the Revs were too narrow in the 0-0 draw with United back on June 8 at Gillette Stadium and wanted his side to spread the ball wide on this occasion, taking advantage of the space provided by D.C.’s compact defensive approach.
That initiative ultimately led to Imbongo’s 55th-minute equalizer. Center back Jose Goncalves laid a pass out wide to an open Chris Tierney, whose left-wing cross found Imbongo for an easy tap-in from six yards out.
“We made some good adjustments at halftime,” said Tierney. “We started using the width, which we needed to do. D.C. was defending very narrow, so we made the appropriate adjustments, created some chances and won the game.”
It was a game the Revs felt they had to have at a critical juncture of the season, particularly considering the struggles last-place United has had throughout the 2013 campaign.
“We’ve said it all year; these are the games that you have to win,” said Tierney. “Coming on the road against a team that’s below us in the table – there are only so many of those opportunities. There’s so much parity in this league that you’ve got to take advantage when you have a chance to kick a team that’s down. It wasn’t always the prettiest tonight, but at the end of the night we’re taking three points, and we’re proud of that.”