3 takeaways from the Revolution’s 2-2 draw against D.C. United

“What else do you want me to say? He walks on water.”

WASHINGTON — The Revolution stayed unbeaten in league games under Bruce Arena on Friday night, but they lost a chance for a win and three points after D.C. United forward Quincy Amarikwa found an 86th minute equalizer. The game ended in a 2-2 draw.

It was a missed opportunity for the Revolution after building a 2-0 first half lead, but the team remains optimistic in what is now an eight-game unbeaten run (4-0-4) in MLS competition.

“I think guys wanting to go on the road and win games is a great sign,” said Revolution forward Teal Bunbury afterward, “but we’re a little disappointed to walk out of here with just one [point].”

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United cut the 2-0 deficit in half through a late first half goal from Leonardo Jara, and Amarikwa’s acrobatic equalizer came after a prolonged period of pressure on the Revolution’s goal.

The tide of possession in the game turned irrevocably when New England midfielder Wilfried Zahibo received a second yellow card and was sent off in the 63rd minute.

New England’s new signing, Argentinian forward Gustavo Bou, traveled with the team but did not make his debut. According to Arena, Bou could feature in the Wednesday game against Vancouver.

Here are a few takeaways from a back-and-forth game at Audi Field:

Teal Bunbury continues his resurgence.

Due to weather delays, the Revolution were unable to travel to Washington D.C. until Friday, landing a mere six hours before kickoff. Still, they appeared unfazed early in the first half, seizing the initiative with a pair of goals.

Bunbury scored the opener, his sixth goal in seven games in all competitions. In the fourth minute, he out-sprinted and overpowered United defender Steve Birnbaum before firing far post to give the visiting Revolution an early lead.

“What else do you want me to say? He walks on water,” Arena joked of Bunbury’s current form. “He’s shown great effort, technically he’s been good, he’s very fit.”

Bruce Arena got the better of the tactical battle.

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The Revolution opened in a 4-2-3-1 with Bunbury pushing high up the field on the right almost as a second striker. This proved a handful for United’s formation (which deployed three center backs flanked by wing backs).

Bunbury’s movement — shuttling in the space between United’s left wing back and left-most center back — created problems for the home team. Both goals indirectly stemmed from this tactical recognition.

“We talked about that before the game that they could play a few different variations,” Bunbury said of United’s defense. “They could play three in the back and their wing backs could stay high [up the field], and that would create space for Juan Agudelo or myself to kind of get in behind, and we tried to exploit that.”

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In the 32nd minute, a mistake from Birnbaum let Bunbury gain possession in a dangerous area. Spotting the midfielder Agudelo at the far post, Bunbury crossed perfectly. Though Agudelo’s effort was saved, teammate Carles Gil applied the deft finish into the corner to give New England a 2-0 lead.

United were able to win more possession in the second half, which mitigated the space between defenders. It also allowed the wing backs to get in behind New England’s defense. Arena adjusted by subbing in fullback DeJuan Jones and shifting to five in defense.

Mental errors again prove costly.

The late goal came from a set piece mistake. Amarikwa was unmarked and onside because New England couldn’t hold its high line. Arena tried to focus on the positives despite surrendering the lead.

“I think we’re disappointed in the result, but I’m not disappointed in the effort of the group,” the Revolution coach said after the game.

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Yet the result mirrors the Revolutions last game against United on May 25. In both contests, New England squandered a lead with only minutes remaining after playing much of the second half with 10 players.

As close as Arena’s team appears to be in its ongoing battle to move up in the Eastern Conference, the proclivity for giving up late goals remains a costly habit.