Carles Gil scored his fifth goal of the season early and the New England Revolution held on to defeat visiting D.C. United 1-0 on Saturday night in Foxborough, Mass.
New England (8-7-9, 33 points) won its second straight and preserved its fourth consecutive shutout against the last-place team in the Eastern Conference despite several absences.
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Team-leading scorer Gustavo Bou and winger Dylan Borrero each missed their fourth consecutive games to injury, and striker Giacomo Vrioni missed his second in a row.
New England began the evening in a four-way tie on points for the seventh and final Eastern Conference playoff position.
Djordje Petrovic made three saves to preserve his fifth shutout in 11 appearances for the Revolution since he was signed to replace departing U.S. international Matt Turner.
Rafael Romo stopped six shots for D.C. (6-14-4, 22 points), which has lost and failed to score in each of its first two away games under new manager Wayne Rooney.
The visitors were outshot 20-13 overall but continued to show defensive improvement on the night new defensive midfielder signee Victor Palsson made his D.C. debut, allowing one goal or none for the third time in the past four games.
Gil put New England ahead in the 18th minute after a well-worked attack down the right.
Tommy McNamara played a ball over the top into the path of fullback Brandon Bye, who reached it, beat D.C. defender Sami Guediri around the right corner and dragged a cross back across the penalty area.
Gil, the reigning MLS MVP, met it in stride and hammered a first-time half-volley from about 10 yards out past Romo.
Ola Kamara forced Petrovic into a good reaction stop in first-half stoppage time, and Palsson was also denied by Petrovic with a diving stop in the 60th minute in what marked D.C.'s best chances to level the game.
Gil continued to be at the root of what New England created throughout, having a one-on-one opportunity denied by Romo in the 39th minute and striking the right post in the 71st minute after rounding Romo on the break.