WASHINGTON, D.C. – They didn’t come easy, but the New England Revolution left Audi Field with three important points on Tuesday night following a gritty 2-1 win over D.C. United.
The Revs overcame a sloppy start, a 46-minute weather delay, a pair of Video Review decisions that awarded D.C. a penalty and saw midfielder Scott Caldwell sent off, and 10 minutes of second-half stoppage time to push themselves over the line and snap a string of three straight draws in league play.
It’s early still – 16 games remain in the truncated 23-game regular season – but the Revs now sit on 10 points (2-1-4), tied for fourth place in the Eastern Conference and just six points off the pace of MLS-leading Columbus Crew SC.
“I thought the guys did great,” said Richie Williams, assuming head coaching duties in place of the suspended Bruce Arena for the second straight game. “In the beginning of the game, it wasn’t perfect. We were a little bit sloppy, a little bit slow at the beginning, but then we came back into the game.
“We knew it wasn’t going to be easy, but they defended really well, made some really good plays, and at the end of the day, you just got to be able to fight and battle. At the end of the game, we get the three points on the road.”
There was nothing new about Tuesday night’s defensive performance – the Revs were largely solid at the back and relied on goalkeeper Matt Turner to come up with a big-time save or two when called upon, as they have for much of 2020 – but they finally turned their chances into goals at the other end of the field.
Gustavo Bou’s 26th-minute strike snapped a scoreless run that stretched back more than three full games, and then it took just 12 more minutes of game time (and that 46-minute weather delay) to find a second as Teal Bunbury buried a header from Alexander Büttner’s corner.
Both goals were generated from corner kicks, an area of focus for the Revs as they’d struggled to find the breakthrough from the run of play in recent weeks.
“In training we’ve been working on our set pieces, working on our delivery, making some good runs in the box – good, aggressive runs, working on some picks,” said Williams. “Service is very important. Good runs and everybody being on the same page, that’s what you saw tonight. We’ve got to continue to do that. It’s a big part of the game.”
It was a performance that should serve as a confidence-builder for a team looking to keep climbing in the East, particularly as they turn around for a pair of home games within the next week, against both the New York Red Bulls (Saturday, August 29) and New York City FC (Wednesday, September 2).
“It gives us a lot of confidence,” Brandon Bye said of Tuesday night’s victory. “Whenever we score two goals on the road, I think we have the confidence to say ‘our backline can keep them in check and we can get out of there with a win.’ We were definitely happy to score a couple goals and get ourselves on the board with those guys.”