FOXBOROUGH, Mass. – D.C. United’s summer renovation has occurred in segments, players (and the coach) joining the cause as work visas have been approved and trades carried out. Another newcomer was in the lineup for the first time Saturday and a prized Premier League striker is due to debut next weekend.
Even as United grows closer to whole, one human at a time, Wayne Rooney faces the immense challenge of making it all work.
In a 1-0 defeat to the New England Revolution, two issues continued to be a drag on the cause: conceding early goals and not scoring any.
United (6-14-4) allowed Carles Gil’s 18th-minute goal and, despite stretches of attacking optimism, went scoreless for the third consecutive match, fourth in a row on the road and 10th overall.
Before an announced crowd of 24,240, the Revolution (8-7-9) posted its fourth straight shutout.
United has gone 12 straight without a victory at Gillette Stadium (0-7-5), last winning here in 2012.
Defensive midfielder Victor Palsson, a transfer from Schalke in Germany, played 90 minutes in his debut. Christian Benteke, who is awaiting permission to play after transferring from Crystal Palace, could make his first appearance next Saturday against Philadelphia at Audi Field.
For the second consecutive game, United’s top scorer, Taxi Fountas, began the night on the bench. Last weekend was precautionary because of a groin ailment; Saturday was tied to Fountas’s busy week at the All-Star Game in St. Paul, Minn.
Fountas, who posted two goals and an assist in a victory over New England in April, entered in the 59th minute and threatened late.
The Revolution did not have its top two goal scorers: Gustavo Bou (seven goals) has been sidelined a month with a leg injury and Adam Buksa (seven) was transferred this summer to Lens (France).
United got off to a bright start, forcing Djordje Petrovic to make two quality saves in the first five minutes.
After Justin Rennicks pushed Emmanuel Boateng’s cross wide of the near post, the Revolution went ahead.
New England’s Brandon Bye beat Martín Rodríguez to Thomas McNamara’s chip into the penalty area and crossed to Gil for a low, 10-yard one-timer past Rafael Romo.
United has conceded a goal in the first 20 minutes in five of the past six matches and, since late May, has scored the first goal once.
Petrovic, a 22-year-old Serb who replaced Matt Turner (now at Arsenal), preserved the lead just before intermission, parrying Ola Kamara’s 12-yard smash.
In the second half, United lacked a killer instinct and let promising buildups fizzle.
Gil should have doubled the lead in the 71st minute, rounding Romo but hitting the near post.
Fountas threatened in the 80th minute with an angled bid, but Petrovic extended to his left to make a touch save. Romo made a fine save on Wilfrid Kaptoum in stoppage time, but United’s late pressure failed to pay off.
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Defender Brendan Hines-Ike, who started 20 matches before getting hurt Aug. 3 at Charlotte, underwent foot surgery Thursday and will need up to six months to recover, the club announced. Last season, his first with United after 4 1/2 years in Europe, he missed 3 1/2 months with a fractured hip socket. . . .
Fullback Chris Odoi-Atsem missed his second consecutive match because of illness recovery. . . . Goalkeeper David Ochoa, acquired July 28 from Real Salt Lake, was in uniform for the first time. . . .
Ismael Tajouri-Shradi, Dylan Borrero and Matt Polster were unavailable for the Revolution.
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United faces a daunting turnaround with a Tuesday match at MLS Cup favorite Los Angeles FC, D.C.’s only West Coast visit of the year. Typically United charters home immediately after a game, but because of the tight time frame, the delegation will fly to Southern California on Sunday and train Monday.
Three players on the two-city tour were not in uniform Saturday: goalkeeper Jon Kempin, defender Gaoussou Samaké and midfielder Moses Nyeman.
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Since its 1996 inception, the Revolution has played in an NFL venue in Foxborough, 28 miles from downtown Boston and the young demographics that MLS covets. But after years of stadium proposals fizzling, the Kraft family (which owns the Patriots and Revolution) might have a location: Everett, which sits across the Mystic River from Boston.
Last month, state lawmakers passed legislation that would allow a “sports, recreation or events center” on the industrial site. It still faces additional political hurdles.
Despite the suburban setting, the team has drawn well this season: Seven of the past eight home dates have drawn 20,000, with a high of 29,097.
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