First XI vs. D.C.
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REACTION: Defense shines in season-opening win over D.C. United

The Crew kicked off 2014 with a bang as the Black & Gold topped longtime rival D.C. United 3-0 on the road Saturday night. While highlight-reel goals from Federico Higuaín and Jairo Arrieta are set to steal the headlines, Columbus' defensive play is just as worthy of praise. 

A new-look backline of holdover Josh Williams and new additions Michael Parkhurst, Giancarlo Gonzalez and Waylon Francis frustrated a talented United frontline of Fabian Espindola and Eddie Johnson throughout the 90 minutes. From minute one, the Crew was able to impose its will on the home team.

"I thought we played our game from the opening whistle, it's what we wanted to do," goalkeeper Steve Clark said after the match. "It feels good to have a plan and execute it. 

"Those guys in front of me, the whole team defending was unbelievable. The back four were fantastic. Wil [Trapp] and Tony [Tchani] sitting in front of them. I was a spectator for most of the match. That's the way I like it."

The dominating performance against United's attack give the Black & Gold momentum to build on to begin 2014.

"It gives us confidence going into the rest of the season," Parkhurst commented. "Especially with Eddie [Johnson] and Fabian Espindola up top, it's a tough duo. Overall, I thought the team defensively played very well.

"It was a great defensive effort."

The Crew will have to wait to keep its momentum going as it heads into a bye week next week. The Black & Gold return to play on March 22 at home against the Philadelphia Union [6:00 p.m. ET / Time Warner Cable SportsChannel].

Said Parkhurst, "Unfortunately we've got the weekend off next week, but it's always good to have a victory going into that bye week."


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