FOXBOROUGH - The Revolution's second-string strikers produced again last night.
Though the Revolution were a step behind most of the game, they remained in contention behind the spectacular goalkeeping of Matt Reis and rallied for a 2-2 tie with D.C. United on second-half goals by Adam Cristman and Kheli Dube.
Cristman scored for the first time since the season opener and Dube extended his scoring streak to three games.
"As a football match, we got outplayed from start to finish," Revolution coach Steve Nicol said. "Sometimes good old heart gets you something you didn't deserve. The second half, I have no complaints. The effort and the commitment, every single thing, they couldn't have given any more, which got us a point.
"We got outplayed, but when it comes down to other elements of the game, we showed that when we need it, we can bring it out."
The Revolution (6-3-2, 20 points), playing without starting strikers Kenny Mansally (World Cup qualifying) and Taylor Twellman (right ankle sprain), took over first place in Major League Soccer. D.C. United (3-7-1, 10 points), which took the lead on goals by Brazilians Luciano Emilio (15th minute) and Fred (53d), remained in last place in the Eastern Conference.
D.C. dominated possession, playing a fluid passing game in the midfield through Marcelo Gallardo and Jaime Moreno, in the first half. Emilio headed in a rebound after Reis blocked a Clyde Simms volley for the first goal.
And United continued to control the momentum early in the second half, Fred breaking away in the 52d minute, stopped by Reis outside the penalty area. Fred appeared to be injured on the play. Revolution players said they relaxed, expecting the ball to be played out while Fred recovered, but D.C. continued to go forward. Emilio's point-blank shot was deflected by Reis, the ball cleared by Michael Parkhurst directly to Moreno. Reis then stopped Moreno's 25-yarder, but Fred recovered and scored on the rebound.
"From now on, I am telling my team that when someone is down injured, don't stop playing," Nicol said. "Our team stopped playing - their own players were telling them to kick it out. In the future, we will not be stopping."
The Revolution started with Sainey Nyassi paired with Dube up front, Nyassi moving to the right wing as Cristman entered as a substitute late in the first half. Cristman helped energize the Revolution in the second half and could remain in the starting lineup when the Revolution host FC Dallas next Friday.
Reis made a kick-save on Moreno in the 24th minute and advanced out of the goal area to stop
Reis also made a one-on-one stop following an Emilio-Gallardo give-and-go in the 66th minute.
Shalrie Joseph started the sequence on the first Revolution goal, going past two D.C. players to the end line, then finding Mauricio Castro for a cross. Fred failed to clear, Dube's one-timer was deflected, and Cristman scored from just outside the goal area.
"It felt great, especially considering I am getting over an injury," said Cristman, who has been slowed by a toe sprain, playing three minutes in the last three games. "It has been frustrating but it's great to be able to contribute to the team other than in practice."
Dube drew a foul that led to the tying goal, absorbing a hard collision with Dominic Mediate. Steve Ralston's free kick from 25 yards was headed at the back post by Jeff Larentowicz, the ball going across the goal area to Dube, who was unmarked for a point-blank header as goalkeeper Zach Wells failed to recover.
"It's tough in this league. There are big defenders, and we have small forwards," said Dube, who underwent root canal surgery Wednesday. "It's a matter of creating space and using speed. They come hard at us. If they know you are faster, what they do is kick you.
"Every player on this team is good, and it's a matter of getting a chance to get in the game and getting a chance to make a difference. The thing about this team is, even if we are struggling, we work as a team. What I've seen, even if we are losing, we keep going."