United’s makeshift defense collapsed in the final moments, however, resulting in a 4-3 defeat to the New England Revolution. Teal Bunbury scored the decisive goal in the 84th minute, ending United’s three-game winning streak and unbeaten run in four, while narrowing DC’s playoff chances.
With four teams chasing two berths, United (5-11-6, 21 points) must win their regular season finale against Montreal Impact (7-13-2, 23) next Sunday, hoping for favorable results during the week and next Weekend.
Montreal and Chicago (5-9-7, 22 points, two games left) rank ninth and tenth in the Eastern Conference, followed by Atlanta (6-12-4, 22) and Miami (6-13-3, 21st) )) and DC
In a broken season, MLS expanded the playoff field to 18 of 26 teams, four more than planned. Ten from the Eastern Conference and eight from the Western Conference will advance.
“It’s pretty easy for us,” said DC interim coach Chad Ashton. “We have to win the game and hope things go our way.”
They appeared to be going the United’s path on Sunday after Yamil Asad and Griffin Yow, 18, were four minutes apart in the first half. But the Revolution (8-6-8, 32 points) responded with three goals in 37 minutes at halftime.
Substitute DC’s Gelmin Rivas prevailed in the 75th minute, but the defense was exposed again and Bunbury buried a 12-yard shot for his second goal of the game.
United were without three backline starters and one other regular player. The latest addition to the overall injury list, which is up to seven, was Joseph Mora, who received facial stitches on Wednesday.
Central defender Frédéric Brillant served a yellow card suspension. Backline partner Steven Birnbaum is injured.
The attacker Julian Gressel, who scored the winning goal against Columbus on Wednesday, stayed at home with his wife, who gave birth to their first child, Sophie, on Sunday.
“It’s just difficult when you have people who haven’t played together a lot, people who play a little out of position,” said Ashton. “We were among them a lot. The minutes, the games – they add up and still the boys scratched and scratched and did everything they could. “
The absences left only six available submarines, three fewer than permitted. Two reserves were goalkeepers.
With limited options, Ashton put Russell Canouse, a natural defensive midfielder, into central defense. Kevin Paredes, a 17-year-old attacker, took Mora’s place.
United went ahead in the 22nd minute. Edison Flores floated a beautiful ball from a top corner of the box towards Asad, unmarked on the back, for a six-yard volley.
Four minutes later, Asad’s free kick fell into the heart of the box for an eight-yard shot and his second career goal on Yow.
The Revolution responded on the 30th after Canouse defeated Adam Buksa for a penalty kick. Carles Gil hit the left post but Buksa hit the rebound.
Bill Hamid kept the lead at half time with two great saves, but was under constant pressure in the second half.
Tajon Buchanan beat Yow to the finish line and crossed the six-yard box. Under no pressure, Canouse instinctively stabbed the ball and sent it past Hamid for an own goal.
The pressures of New England were as relentless as the rain. United’s resistance continued to dissipate.
In the 67th minute, the revolution was moving quickly. Buchanan defeated Paredes to the finish line and crossed Bunbury for a 10-yard finish.
Eight minutes later, Rivas captured Flores’ cross, quickly turned and whipped a 10-yarder into the nearby corner. It seemed enough to get away with by one point, but the revolution continued.
“You can’t come down because we have next Sunday to go,” Yow said. “If we do the job then we have a pretty good chance. We have to focus on that and keep our heads high. “
Notes: Columbus assistant Ezra Hendrickson, a member of the 2004 United Championship squad, is high on DC’s list for the job of head coach, two people close to the situation.
Hendrickson, 48, has been a coach since 2009: nine years with the Seattle organization, one with the LA Galaxy and two with Columbus. He was also an assistant to the national team of St. Vincent and the Grenadines, his country of birth.