Though it was their fourth match in 12 days, the Columbus Crew made light of D.C. United with a 1-0 win at RFK Stadium on Saturday night to keep themselves at the top of the Eastern Conference standings.
Columbus were handed their lead by a first-half mistake from DC netminder Bill Hamid, but they made the most of that break with a composed, confident performance. For their part, the DC attack turned in another underwhelming display that resulted in their 15th shutout of the season, tying the league record held by Toronto FC.
Crew coach Robert Warzycha largely kept faith with the lineup that beat DC in the US Open Cup on Wednesday, making only three changes. Will Hesmer, Dilly Duka and Kevin Burns stepped into the squad. United also turned to new faces as Jordan Graye replaced the injured Marc Burch, and Clyde Simms dropped into central defense to fill in for Dejan Jakovic, who was away on international duty.
Shots on Goal
Shots on Goal
United created the first opportunity of the game six minutes in when Santino Quaranta got the better of Chad Marshall on the left flank and crossed to Danny Allsopp. But the Australian striker could not keep his header down and the ball flashed over the crossbar.
Allsopp was teed up again in the 20th minute, but was unable to reach Andy Najar’s low cross in front of goal.
Three minutes later, however, a gaffe from Hamid gifted the visitors a lead against the run of play. Under pressure from Barros Schelotto, the 19-year-old goalkeeper muffed a back pass, then whiffed on a half-volleyed clearance. The Crew’s Argentine maestro seized the loose ball and side-footed his shot into the net.
In their forlorn state, the last thing United needed was to surrender a soft goal. Ben Olsen’s team responded vigorously, but their attacking limitations continued to reveal themselves as the final, telling pass failed to materialize. Their struggles were compounded by the Crew back line’s consistent shape.
The Black-and-Red attack unable to direct a single shot on goal over the 90 minutes, even after Olsen turned to veteran Jaime Moreno in search of a second-half spark.
Just as he had on Wednesday, Columbus striker Steven Lenhart made a nuisance of himself all night, harrying United’s defenders and winning more than his share of headers as Schelotto moved into the spaces he created.
The duo nearly combined for the game-clinching goal in the 79th minute on a one-two combination, but Lenhart poked his shot high of the mark from 18 yards out. And Lenhart also came close in the final stages with a glancing header off Eddie Gaven’s endline cross.
But one goal was all the Crew would need for their second win in Washington in four days. They secured passage on Wednesday to the Open Cup final and on Saturday maintained their push toward a third straight Supporters’ Shield.
CLB -- Guillermo Barros Schelotto 7 (unassisted) 23
Columbus Crew -- William Hesmer, Gino Padula (Shaun Francis 30), Chad Marshall, Andy Iro, Danny O'Rourke, Eddie Gaven, Brian Carroll, Kevin Burns, Dilly Duka (Jason Garey 77), Steven Lenhart, Guillermo Barros Schelotto (Andres Mendoza 89).
D.C. United -- Bill Hamid, Jed Zayner, Julius James, Jordan Graye, Andy Najar, Clyde Simms, Kurt Morsink (Devon McTavish 87), Stephen King, Santino Quaranta, Danny Allsopp (Jaime Moreno 60), Pablo Hernandez.
DC -- Pablo Hernandez (caution; Reckless Foul) 46+
CLB -- Shaun Francis (caution; Reckless Tackle) 47
DC -- Jordan Graye (caution; Tactical Foul) 57
CLB -- Dilly Duka (caution; Reckless Foul) 58
Referee: Hilario Grajeda
Referee's Assistants: Craig Lowry; Brian Poeschel
4th Official: Jeff Gontarek
Time of Game: 1:49