After two straight wins, including a road upset of the defending champs, the New England Revolution seemed to be well on their way to earning a point in another hostile environment.
Instead, they were dealt a late loss - and that wasn’t the only bad news.
Shalrie Joseph was given a one-game suspension for a bad tackle, leaving the Revolution without their captain Saturday as they try to continue their dominance of visiting D.C. United, which is looking to extend its unbeaten run to four.
New England (2-3-0) was outscored 4-0 in dropping its first two games before beating Portland 1-0 in its March 24 home opener.
The Revs opened a two-game road trip with a 3-1 win in Los Angeles, then appeared to be headed for a scoreless draw in Dallas on April 5 before giving up a goal in second-half stoppage time.
Five days later, the league handed New England more bad news by suspending Joseph for a tackle in the 62nd minute on Dallas’ Ricardo Villar. Joseph received a yellow card at the time but didn’t believe any additional punishment would be coming.
“I didn’t even think twice about it,” Joseph told the Revolution’s official website. “Then to see it yesterday when I came into practice and (coach) Jay (Heaps) told me about it, it was just frustrating. I felt a hole in my chest knowing that I’m not that kind of player. I’m not a dirty player.”
Fellow midfielder Clyde Simms knows he’ll need to step up with Joseph unavailable.
“My responsibility is going to be a lot more for Saturday,” said Simms, who expects to play despite dealing with tightness in his right calf. “But we’ve had a game or two where (Shalrie) wasn’t in there, so I think we’ll be alright.”
In addition to filling Joseph’s void, Simms has another reason to make sure he’s fit for Saturday. After spending his first seven MLS seasons with D.C. (1-2-2) - spanning 182 appearances - Simms didn’t have his option picked up in the offseason.
Now he’ll be on the other side of a series that has seen New England claim five straight wins.
“I’m excited about playing them,” Simms said. “They’re basically the same team as when I played there. They have the same formation and they try to accomplish the same types of things. They really depend on a couple of guys making special plays throughout the game.”
United had plenty of highlights in a 4-1 victory over Dallas on March 30 as Maicon Santos scored twice, but they were held to a scoreless draw last Saturday against Seattle.
Still, it was D.C.’s third straight game with at least a point after two losses to open the season.
“The coaching staff is really good with putting together a game plan and we are all on the same page now,” defender Daniel Woolard said. “We weren’t quite there the first couple of games of the season, but now we are understanding each other and playing as a team defensively and offensively. It’s all coming together.”