FOXBOROUGH — Progress is measured any number of ways, so perhaps there’s no better current sign for the New England Revolution than how disappointed they were Saturday night, despite pushing their shutout streak to four games, and their unbeaten run to five.
Those positives were offset by an inability to get a goal, producing a frustrating scoreless tie against D.C. United at Gillette Stadium. D.C. United (1-10-3) hasn’t won in three months, but the Revolution (5-4-5), who had scored nine goals in their previous three games, knew they’d be in for a tougher night than many probably expected.
“You look at their players, and that’s the same squad that almost made it to MLS Cup last year,” said Revolution midfielder Chris Tierney. “We were well aware of how good their team can be, and we know as well as anyone how tough it can be when you’re struggling like they are and how desperate they were going to be. So we knew and were prepared for the fact that it was going to be a difficult game, and it was.”
Tierney, the rest of the Revolution defenders, and goalkeeper Bobby Shuttleworth have kept the lid sealed air tight on their end of the field, with New England now going nearly 400 minutes since allowing its most recent Major League Soccer goal, the second-longest such streak in the league this season. They’ve only allowed nine goals in 14 games, tops in MLS.
“Every time we step on the field we want to get a shutout, we want to keep a zero, and the guys have been really, really good,” said Shuttleworth. “I think it’s a good thing that we’re disappointed that we didn’t get 3 points, but that being said, we’re at home, so we need to maximize our points, and dropping points here is not what we want to do.”
New England applied pressure in the late stages of the game, with Lee Nguyen taking a pass from Andrew Farrell and launching a shot in stride that was blocked by United goalkeeper Bill Hamid in the 88th minute. Two minutes later, substitute midfielder Kelyn Rowe had another close-in look, also stopped by Hamid.
Neither team had a great chance in extra time, although a header by United’s Perry Kitchen off a corner kick sailed right of the post. D.C. United’s 12-game winless streak is the longest in franchise history, but Revolution coach Jay Heaps knew his squad wouldn’t find things easy.
“This is a good team, man, I’m telling you,” Heaps said. “Now, am I saying we’re at home and we should have done better? Yes. But they played well tonight. I think they’re a tough team and I was glad we didn’t give anything away. I thought we could have scored, we didn’t, but I give them credit.”
Held without a first-half goal for the first time in two games, the Revolution had a number of solid chances early in the match. Nguyen took a sparkling touch pass outside the top of the box from Diego Fagundez in the 18th minute and sent a bullet just over the crossbar. Fagundez saw his streak of scoring a goal in four consecutive games come to an end, so the team record held by Wolde Harris (seven straight games, 2000) remains safe.
Juan Agudelo factored in another prime opportunity in the 31st minute. The 20-year-old dribbled through the defense in an east-west line 15 yards from the goal, and eventually got the ball in the middle of the field to midfielder Juan Toja, whose attempt was punched out of bounds by Hamid.
Saer Sene, making his second straight start and coming off his first goal of the season, had two decent shots miss in the first half. He dribbled unmarked to about 30 yards out in the 22d minute before sending a shot over the crossbar, then created an opening to the left of the goal in the 37th minute, misfiring left.
Sene actually put a ball into the back of the net in the 20th minute, prompting the crowd to celebrate and the Revolutionary War reenactors to shoot off their muskets. Premature, it turned out. The play had been whistled dead seconds before, New England guilty of being offside.
United’s best look came in the 27th minute, when Chris Pontius had his close-range bid deflected by Shuttleworth. That was the only save credited to Shuttleworth on 12 United shots. The Revolution also had 12 shots, with Hamid making four saves.
After a productive three-game homestand (2-0-1, netting 7 of a possible 9 points), the Revolution resume MLS play on Saturday at Vancouver. But they also play on Wednesday night at Harvard Stadium in the fourth round of the US Open Cup against the New York Red Bulls.Michael Whitmer can be reached at email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter @GlobeWhitmer. Michael Whitmer can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @GlobeWhitmer.