Photo by ISIphotos.com
By AVI CREDITOR
WASHINGTON – The 20,664 at RFK Stadium didn't have time to comprehend the deflating nature of Kenny Mansally's first goal by the time he lofted his second dagger into the upper left-hand corner of the net.
Despite being out-possessed for the majority of the game and not coming up with a shot on goal until the 74th minute, the New England Revolution defeated D.C. United 2-0 Saturday night on the strength of two Mansally goals in a span of less than two minutes.
Mansally, a 68th-minute substitute, ran onto a deflected Chris Tierney cross from the left corner, sliding by the edge of the 6-yard box to slot home the game's opening goal in the 80th minute.
"I was sitting on the bench saying, 'Nobody's testing the goalkeeper, we can get more shots on goal,'" Mansally said.
He then deked out both Juan Manuel Pena and Rodney Wallace at the edge of the penalty area, creating just enough space to loft a left-footed chip over a helpless Troy Perkins – a la Clint Dempsey against Juventus – in the 82nd minute to seal the stunning victory.
"When you come in here, you're hoping to get a chance or two, and when you do you hope you finish them," said New England goalkeeper Preston Burpo, who made two saves in earning the clean sheet. "Last week (a 1-0 loss at Los Angeles) we had two chances, real good ones, and we didn't finish them, and this week we had two chances, and Mansally was obviously amazing."
Up until Mansally's stunning strikes, D.C. had a strong grasp on the game. United took full advantage of Shalrie Joseph's absence (hip flexor) by controlling the run of play, but the team lacked the ability to finish or come up with that final touch to lead to a goal-scoring chance.
"You do everything to win a game, but in the end if you don't score, you can't win," United midfielder Santino Quaranta said. "There's a lot of positives to take from this game, but I think the guys understand that we have to finish our chances and we have to do better."
The closest D.C. came to putting one past Burpo came on a free kick in the 14th minute, when Quaranta's deceptive low strike from just outside the penalty area was kicked away by the New England keeper.
"I kind of leaned a little bit and lost sight, and then it popped through the wall," Burpo said. "Lucky I got a toe on it. We kind of got away with one there."
Quaranta had another chance in the 76th minute, when Wallace completed a great run down the left side by sliding a pass to the D.C. central midfielder inside the box. Quaranta's shot went straight into Burpo's arms, though, and the home team didn't register another shot on target after that.
"You try to keep that on frame and low, but I hit it right at him," Quaranta said. "Anywhere else I would've at least made him make a more difficult save."
Two games into the season, D.C. is still searching for its first goal. Not exactly the start head coach Curt Onalfo wanted to embark on in his return to the United sideline.
"I felt like our entire team played well for good stretches of the game," Onalfo said. "Unfortunately we lost concentration on a couple key plays and it hurt us.
"We're rushing things a little too much, but we have to stay positive and continue to plug away and know that those chances will continue and have faith that we'll put them away."
A positive for D.C. was the play of Brandon Barklage at right midfield. The hard-working, gritty Barklage, in his first extended action since suffering a torn ACL last season, turned in a strong, 70-minute shift before having his calves cramp up.
His cross at the end of the first half set up Chris Pontius with a golden opportunity, but the forward's header went high.
The 5-foot-11 St. Louis product also found his way to a Quaranta corner in the 61st minute, but his header just missed the post.
"I felt that he played well enough to warrant (starting) there again," Onalfo said.
The player who did the most to warrant a potential starting job, though, was Mansally, who immediately changed New England's offensive complexion.
He fired a 30-yard shot well right just minutes after coming on, but just generating something was almost more than the team had done all night.
"The two guys in the back (Pena and Dejan Jakovic) were giving Kheli (Dube) and Zack (Schilawski) a hard time, and the referees weren't protecting them and we were getting manhandled," Revolution coach Steve Nicol said. "We put Kenny up there to get a bit more strength and try and hold the ball up so we could try and get out, and I thought he did that. Obviously the goals were icing on the cake."
The Revolution, who will welcome Toronto F.C. to Gillette Stadium next week, will likely receive a much-needed midfield boost with the expected return of Joseph to the lineup. Although the team has done well to secure three points out of two road games, the lack of possession in both contests is a troubling sign.
"I think we can get a lot better, that's for sure," Nicol said. "If we can keep winning the way we're winning that's even better. It's about getting points on the board. You'd love to do it the Barcelona way, but not everybody can."