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Revived D.C. United settles for tie
by Ridge Mahoney, May 30th, 2008 6:45AM

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Who says draws are dull? For the second straight night, conference rivals served up entertaining four-goal fare. Following Houston's last-gasp equalizer that earned it a 2-2 tie in Dallas on Wednesday, D.C. United jumped out to a 2-0 lead at Gillette Stadium Thursday but the Revs (6-3-2, 20 points) battled back to gain a point and take over first place in the East, although they have played two more games than Chicago and Columbus, which are a point back in second place.

Kheli Dube scored his third goal in as many games to complete the comeback, after Adam Cristman had put away a Dube pass to get New England back into the game.

Midfielders Shalrie Joseph and Sainey Nyassi helped the turn the tide after Nyassi had labored ineffectively up front for most of the first half, but without keeper Matt Reis, the Revs could have been down by three at halftime.

A rampant D.C. dominated play and bombarded Reis, but had just a 1-0 halftime lead courtesy of Luciano Emilio, who played his best game of the season and looked much more like the 2007 MVP that led MLS with 20 goals.

Fred notched the second goal Reis fended off a half-dozen potent shots, including a Clyde Simms drive that Emilio pounced on, yet Reis surrendered a second goal in the 53rd minute after twice thwarting a fierce United attack.

A second rebound fell to Fred and he slammed a low shot past Reis and defender Michael Parkhurst, who had cleared the ball after Reis's initial save got enough of a Emilio shot to slow it down en route to goal. That sequence typified the rhythmic, incisive D.C. play that carved open the Revs time and time again in the first half, prompting Reis to the rescue.

Marcelo Gallardo and Fred and Santino Quaranta glided through New England's midfield, finding Emilio and Jaime Moreno in good spots with accurate balls to feet, displaying the style and caliber of play envisioned by D.C. coaches and management when they set about replacing nearly one-half of a starting lineup that had posted the league's best regular-season record (16-7-7) last year before fizzling in the playoffs.

Defender Gonzalo Peralta missed the game to be with his expectant wife, whose illness the past few weeks had forced him out of the lineup. Yet still Coach Tom Soehn elected not to use Marc Burch at left back, instead using Gonzalo Martinez, Devon McTavish and Dominic Mediate (normally a midfielder) along with regular right back Bryan Namoff.

In the first half, as D.C. held sway in midfield, the United back line looked far more secure than the Revs' regular trio, which constantly had to plug leaks that sprang from sluggish midfield play. But once Joseph, Nyassi, Steve Ralston and Jeff Larentowicz got in gear, and Cristman's rugged workrate meshed with Dube's elegant pace, the Revs displayed the crisp yet relentless energy they have attained this season with only scant contribution from Taylor Twellman, sidelined again for this match.

New England punished Fred's failure to clear a loose ball when Dube's square pass ran for Cristman to tuck away, and a Ralston free kick from the right flank left D.C. completely flummoxed when, as he leaped over the goal line beyond the far post, Larentowicz nodded the ball back over a marooned Zach Wells for the unmarked Dube to nod into the net.

The D.C. revival continues, though the Revs are 10 points ahead of last-place United (3-7-1, 10 points), which after five away defeats got its first road point of the season and plays four of its next five games at home. Yet a team that conceded only 34 goals in 30 games last season has already surrendered 22 this year and has yet to post a shutout in league play. Until that weakness is addressed, it won't make up considerable ground in the playoff chase.

May 29 in Foxboro, Mass.
New England 2 D.C. United 2.
Goals: Cristman (Dube) 59, Dube (Ralston, Larentowicz) 72; Emilio 15, Fred 53.
New England - Reis, Albright, Parkhurst, Heaps, Thompson (Cristman, 39), Joseph, Larentowicz, Castro (Smith, 64), Nyassi (Igwe, 88), Dube, Ralston.
D.C. United - Wells, Namoff, McTavish, Mediate, Martinez, Quaranta, Gallardo, Simms, Fred (Burch, 88), Moreno (Dyachenko, 78), Emilio.
Yellow Cards: New England - Thompson 25, Nyassi 78; D.C. United - Quaranta 34, Martinez 75.
Referee: Abiodun Okulaja.
Att.: 8,159.



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