D.C. United won their second straight game in Major League Soccer and stretched their unbeaten run to six games thanks to a 2-0 win over Columbus Crew SC before 13,107 fans at RFK Stadium.
Fabian Espindola played a role in both goals, which came in the first half as the home side put themselves on top early and did not let go. The opener came after a Crew SC corner broke down and United countered, with the ball breaking to Chris Rolfe inside his own half. The forward then played a delicious through ball into the path of the rampaging Espindola, who then chipped goalkeeper Steve Clark to notch his first goal of the season.
Espindola also played a big hand in the home side’s second goal, which came just four minutes before the halftime interval. The Argentine swung in a dangerous corner that Clark tried to come for but could not claim. At the back post, Sean Franklin was unmarked and able to sweep home a difficult half-volley into the back of the net to double United’s advantage.
The home side were once again led offensively by Espindola, who is clearly looking to make up for lost time after his six-game ban that he started the season with expired. With United one up, he found himself unmarked in the box from a low cross, but Clark was equal to the task as he came off his line quickly and blocked away the shot.
Nick DeLeon also had two superb chances for United, starting with the game scoreless as he sent a half-volley just over the bar from outside the penalty area. Then, with halftime just around the corner, he latched on to Chris Pontius’ downward header from Bill Hamid’s long goal kick and hammered another shot from distance that sailed just over.
Meanwhile, Columbus looked threatening at times as they dominated possession for long periods, but they were unable to find a final pass to unlock a stellar United defense. Kei Kamara looked handy as the visitors’ lone striker, but he found himself swarmed by the home side’s defenders if he had a sniff of goal in the penalty area. His best chance came in the opening period as he took down a cross and looked to turn and fire, but Kofi Opare was on hand to deflect his attempt to safety.
Justin Meram also saw a volley at the near post go just over the bar before the break, while in the second period Federico Higuaín had a powerful header from long range go wide of Hamid’s post also. Higuaín continued to be an attacking presence for Columbus, but unfortunately his teammates sometimes looked devoid of ideas of how to find him in the best attacking positions.
The visitors continued to have good chances in the second half as United’s defense seemed content to soak up the pressure and break forward in counter attacks, something they looked to use regularly but found themselves unable to produce many telling moments.
Columbus’ best chance of the second half arguably fell to Ethan Finlay, who was unmarked in the box but unable to get his foot on a cross from Kamara. Substitute Kristinn Steindorsson also had a good opportunity after some hesitant United defending and a failure to clear their lines, but his first-time shot to the far post from inside the penalty area was watched wide by Hamid.
With their defense coping well and their attack looking at times a little unconvincing going forward, United were able to continue Luis Silva’s rehabilitation from injury with a substitute appearance in place of Rolfe, while Miguel Aguilar replaced Espindola late on having been dogged in recent weeks by visa issues.
The fulltime whistle signaled another victory for United, and means they now have not lost in 16 games in all competitions, a run that has helped keep them right at the top of the Eastern Conference standings this season. With more home games to come for D.C., they will be hopeful of adding to their points total and maintaining their impressive start to 2015.
DCU — Fabian Espindola (Chris Rolfe) 15’
DCU — Sean Franklin (Fabian Espindola) 41’
DCU — Fabian Espindola (caution, encroachment) 71’
DCU — Sean Franklin (caution, time wasting) 90’
D.C. United XI: Hamid; Franklin, Opare, Boswell, Korb; DeLeon (Farfan 63’), Kitchen, Arnaud, Pontius; Rolfe (Silva 71’), Espindola (Aguilar 86’).
Subs not used: Worra, Kemp, Doyle, Arrieta.
Columbus Crew SC XI: Clark; Grana (Jimenez 65’), Parkhurst, Pogatetz, Francis (Klute HT); Saeid, Tchani, Finlay, Higuain, Meram (Steindorsson HT); Kamara.
Subs not used: Lampson, Wahl, George, Schoenfeld.