D.C. United and Columbus Crew SC met in D.C. on Saturday evening, first-place United riding a 15-game home unbeaten run (across all competitions) and fourth-place Columbus riding a pair of resounding victories over Orlando City and Philadelphia.
Despite being thoroughly out-possessed, D.C. seemed in control of the match from the get-go and they would find their opener in the 14th minute.
Espindola and Chris Rolfe combined on a lethal counterattack to give United their first goal of the evening. Rolfe collected the ball in his own half after a failed Columbus corner kick, turned and made a 40-yard run upfield. His perfectly-weighted through ball — just past the outstretched leg of Crew SC midfielder Mohammed Saeid, who just barely got a foot on it — hit Espindola in stride, and the Argentine playmaker fired low and to the far post from 18 yards out, giving United the early lead.
Espindola turned provider four minutes before halftime. The former RSL man swung in a corner kick towards the back post as United defender Sean Franklin was tucked in behind a mass of players near the penalty spot after making a well-timed run to the far post. Unmarked, Franklin easily redirected the service into goal from six yards out, doubling United’s advantage.
Hernan Grana and Justin Meram combined for the Crew SC’s only decent chance of the half, which came during stoppage time. Grana’s cross from the near corner found Meram at close range, but the Iraqi international’s volley sailed a few feet over the crossbar.
20 minutes into the second half, Crew SC nearly pulled one back. Austrian defender Emanuel Pogatetz sprung Kei Kamara on the counter, with Kamara swinging a ball to the back post for a wide open Ethan Finlay. Finlay could do little with the service, which was struck a bit too heavily. Three minutes later, Klute played a ball into the area for fellow second-half sub Steindorsson, but his header drifted wide of the post, never threatening United keeper Bill Hamid.
D.C. forward Luis Silva nearly gave D.C. an insurance goal just minutes after entering the match, trotting towards goal in the 76th minute and chipping Crew SC ‘keeper Steve Clark, but a well-positioned Tony Tchani cleared the ball off the goal line to preserve the 2-0 result.
D.C. will look for another home victory when they welcome Sporting Kansas City next Saturday evening, while the Crew will regroup before welcoming the Seattle Sounders to MAPFRE Stadium later that same night.