Three days after Hernán Losada was thrown out – in the middle of a losing streak of four games and growing friction with players and staff – United (3-4-0) rose from an early deficit to revive their prospects and end a skid in six games against Bruce Arenas. team.
Fountas, a designated player who sits at the top of the team’s payroll, made his MLS debut last week as a sub. In the lineup on Saturday, he scored twice and assisted for another goal in a 17-minute stretch of the first half.
“I was worried when we closed the early goal in because I thought we looked a little shocked,” said Ashton, a member of the coaching staff since 2007 and interim manager at the end of 2020, before Losada was hired. “I was just then worried what that feeling and what that week took out of us. The reaction from the guys – incredible. It boosts our confidence. It gives us one to start moving in the right direction. “
After Brandon Bye scored for New England (2-5-1) in the sixth minute, Fountas ‘goal came in the 26th and 43rd, and Michael Estrada finished Fountas’ post in the 39th. The Revolution scored in the 86th, before United sweated an eight-minute break out ahead of the announced 17,131.
When it ended, defender Donovan Pines goalkeeper Jon Kempin, a far too late save, gave a huge hug.
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“It was a hectic week,” said Kempin, who started for the first time this season with Bill Hamid out with an injury. “The way we can express ourselves is through football, through the game. What you saw tonight was a group of guys giving everything.”
In the beginning, it was not the usual jovial scene at the stadium. Many members of the supporter groups were unhappy with the decision to fire Losada after just 15 months, and they either did not attend or saw in silence. Singing and drumming, soundtracks to United matches since the opening season in 1996, were largely withheld.
In the beginning, the loudest noises came from visiting supporters after Bye’s goal and from fans shouting to save a small bird that refused to leave the field.
“I know it was a little different from the fans’ side,” wingback Julian Gressel said. “Thank you to those who came and still supported us through this. I think they saw that we would win at any cost, and we wanted that today, especially.”
It took time for Fountas and Co. to find a rhythm. Edison Flores’ wayward pass provoked buh, while Fountas struggled to find the game, and Estrada received poor service.
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Soon, however, Fountas delivered.
It began with Flores supplying him with a dangerous cross that remained untouched. Gressel tracked it on the farthest sideline and crossed into the box. A header from New England fell to Fountas for a 16-yard volley that bounced into the far corner.
With 39 minutes played, Fountas and Gressel fell dramatically just outside the penalty area. Fountas then struck a cross into the six-yard box for the unmarked Estrada for a slight header and his first goal since hitting twice in the opening on 26 February.
Four minutes later, Fountas brought down a deflected ball, switched over the top of the field and tore a 12-yard shot that handcuffed Brad Knighton.
Still trailing on the score board, Fountas adjusted their style of play with 60 minutes gone.
“He understands the game very well,” Ashton said. “He’s obviously a difference that creates. He hasn’t played in a while, so it’s really exciting to see him be so sharp and get emotionally bought into the group.”
With a 3-1 lead, United emphasized form and discipline, providing ball possession but not serious threats for a long period of time. New England’s pressure paid off in the 86th minute. After a short tussle with the defender, Adam Buksa finally tucked the ball home.
The goal evoked dark memories of last week’s collapse against Austin: A 2-0 lead with about 10 minutes left turned into a 3-2 defeat that almost sealed Losada’s fate.
“I said in the 80th minute, ‘We’ve been here before, guys,'” Gressel said, “this week we’ve only admitted one, thankfully.”
Kempin made another breathtaking save after 90 minutes, but United had to withstand repeated threats during the break.
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Hamid is expected to miss about a month and lifts Kempin into the ranks for his first job of the season. United got a third goalkeeper, Venezuela’s Rafael Romo, but he is awaiting a work visa, a process that will take another couple of weeks.
Until Romo is released or Hamid returns, Loudoun United’s Luis Zamudio will serve as backup.
United visit Columbus Crew next Saturday, its first regular away game since March 19 in Toronto. However, five of the following six matches will take place at Audi Field. That range includes a US Open Cup date with the New York Red Bulls.