- The Washington Times - Sunday, October 12, 2003

FOXBORO, Mass. — D.C. United needed just one point to clinch a playoff berth heading into yesterday’s game against the New England Revolution, and after 90 minutes it looked like the team would return to the postseason for the first time since 1999.

And yet when the game ended it was the Revolution who earned a spot in the postseason with a 1-0 overtime penalty-kick win. United will have to wait one more game to seal a playoff bid.

“It was tough that it took a goal like that to decide the game,” United coach Ray Hudson said. “I had a feeling it might be something like a penalty, a bad bounce or a missed clearance that was going to be the difference.”

The result, which thrilled the 12,006 at Gillette Stadium, not only gets the Revolution into the playoffs, but also moves them into third place in the Eastern Conference. It also dropped United to fourth, a point behind New England and six ahead of the last-place Columbus Crew, whom United plays next Sunday.

“That’s just the way it goes,” Hudson said. “That’s the bed we have made for ourselves. We just have to be more balanced and focused in our final two games to put this right.”

The injury-plagued Revolution (10-9-9, 39 points) earned the penalty kick only two minutes into the 10-minute sudden death overtime.

United defender Brandon Prideaux was called for taking down Chris Bagley in the box, must to the chagrin of the United players. Marco Etcheverry pleaded with referee Ali Saheli, arguing that Bagley should have been called for a hand ball.

New England midfielder Steve Ralston took the penalty kick and beat goalkeeper Doug Warren to the left post.

“We felt kind of ripped off,” Warren said. “We fought so hard out there and then to have something like that [call] that is out of your hands.”

In regulation, each team had its chances, but strong goalkeeping at each end kept the match scoreless.

Neither team could take control in an opening half played at a frenzied pace.

United (10-10-8, 38 points) nearly got on the board in the 10th minute when Elieso Quintanilla hit a 20-yard shot that was saved when Revolution goalkeeper Adin Brown extended to his right to control the ball.

United came close again in the 38th minute when Quintanilla served a cross on which Thaigo Martins managed an awkward shot from close range. However, it was cleared off the goal line by Shalrie Joseph.

A minute later, Ralston found Brian Kamler with a pass that freed up the Revolution midfielder, who fired from 25 yards only to have the shot hit the right post.

New England defender Jay Heaps made a number of strong overlapping runs and tested Warren on two occasions, but the United goalkeeper came up big.

Making only his seventh appearance of the season, Warren denied a 19-yard blast by Heaps in the 44th minute, less than a minute after being leveled by Revolution forward Dario Fabbro.

“I think we deserved to win the game,” Revolution coach Steve Nicol said. “I would have liked to do it in a nice crisp finish, but I’m happy to just take the game.”

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