FOXBOROUGH — The Revolution battled from behind in a scrappy game against DC United Saturday night at Gillette Stadium, defeating the visitors, 2-1, and leaping into fifth place in the Eastern Conference.
The Revolution (11-11-7, 40 points) are now in playoff position with five games remaining in the regular season, while DC United (3-20-6, 15 points) has MLS’s worst record, and hasn’t won an away game all season.
But the Revolution didn’t make it easy on themselves.
In the 11th minute, Revolution midfielder Scott Caldwell slid toward his own goal, trying to clear a cross from DC United’s Luis Silva. Caldwell’s foot knocked the ball into his net as goalkeeper Matt Reis had come out in an attempt to catch the cross.
“It’s obviously devastating when that happens early in the game,” said Caldwell. “At the last second I saw Matt was coming. I just didn’t really have time to react. I still thought I could’ve won the ball, but I misplayed it.”
DC United took the 1-0 advantage into halftime as the Revolution players’ communication didn’t seem to click in the first half. That changed after the break.
In the 55th minute, Revolution midfielder Lee Nguyen had the ball poked away by a DC United defender. The referee awarded the home side a penalty kick, though, despite what looked to be a clean tackle.
Bill Hamid made the save though, Nguyen hitting the shot directly into the goalkeeper’s path. It was a moment that called for a response by the Revolution.
In the 58th minute, Revolution winger Saer Sene slotted a ball through to midfielder Diego Fagundez and the 18-year-old scored his team-high 11th goal to tie the game at 1.
Fagundez looked like he might have been in an offside position when Sene made the pass, admitting he wasn’t 100 percent sure he was onside.
“To tell you the truth, I was a little surprised,” Fagundez said. “After the goal I was looking at the ref because it was so close.’’
In the 83d minute, Nguyen redeemed himself. After being tripped and earning his team a second penalty kick, the midfielder stepped up and delivered.
“I think that was a gutsy performance from him, because [penalty kicks] are not easy,” said Revolution coach Jay Heaps. “Penalty kicks are tough to come back from.”
Nguyen chipped the ball in as Hamid dived to the other side of the goal, giving the Revolution a priceless 2-1 victory.
“I knew he was going to get it,” said Fagundez. “There was no way the goalie was going to stop it. If Lee missed, it would have been hard for us to get back in the game.”
And none of the Revolution players contested Nguyen’s decision when he picked up the ball to take the second penalty kick, having missed one earlier in the half.
“I don’t think he would have let anyone take that [second penalty kick],” Fagundez said. “I’m glad he took it again and definitely got that goal.”
Caldwell said he believes the Revolution are a playoff-ready team, and said that the team needs to take points from each one of their remaining games.
“We know we can compete with the best teams in the league and we can win games. Being my first year in the league, I haven’t seen anything different. But I see a group of guys, a team, that can definitely win games and be in the playoffs,” Caldwell said.
“We had to win the game or else we’re going to drop further back. From here on out, every game is really a must-win.”