D.C. United was back home for the first time in almost a month Saturday night, and in front of 19,033 at RFK Stadium they returned to a worrisome trend, spotting Columbus Crew SC a two-goal lead thanks to Ethan Finlay and current MLS goal scoring leader Kei Kamara. While they managed to pull a goal back, they fell to the Crew 2-1, extending their winless streak to five (during which they have lost four).
The first half, while only yielding one goal, saw plenty of chances for both teams. A header by Tony Tchani went off the crossbar less than five minutes into the game. 10 minutes later, Alvaro Saborio forced a turnover from Tchani and went in alone for a scoring opportunity, but could not lift it over Steve Clark. Perry Kitchen even got into the act with a shot Clark saved following some adroit passing from Chris Rolfe and Nick DeLeon.
In the 27th minute, a ball from Michael Parkhurst found its way to Tyson Wahl. Marked by Sean Franklin, who gave away four inches and twenty pounds to the Crew center back, Wahl found Finlay close by the D.C. net. Finlay turned past Taylor Kemp and fired it past Bill Hamid for the 1-0 Crew lead. They took the advantage into halftime despite Saborio having another chance at goal that he put wide of Clark and the net moments after the goal.
Early in the second half, a Tchani pass found Kamara, who got past a flat-footed Steve Birnbaum and won the race to Hamid, beating the keeper on the short side to his left for a 2-0 lead by the 50th minute. Saborio had an aerial chance in the 58th, but his header went wide. Despite that look, D.C. remained in a funk until Sean Franklin crossed the ball into the Crew area, where it was handled by Chris Klute, and a penalty awarded by referee Ted Unkel. Rolfe fired the ball over Clark to halve the lead, but unfortunately for D.C. that was where it would stay.
D.C. claimed that two goals where wrongly disallowed for offside following the Rolfe goal. The first came when a pass from Rolfe to Chris Pontius - who replaced Markus Halsti in the 75th minute - was chested down and was called off. The second was in the 84th, when Fabian Espindola came inside from the left and fired a ball that Saborio redirected past Clark. The flag was raised immediately though, a call that was controversial for many.
"I’m not pleased with the result, that’s for sure, but I’m pleased with our effort, and we looked like ourselves for a large stretch of that game, so that’s a positive," Ben Olsen said. "It’s a better performance than the Colorado game, and in a lot of ways it’s the best performance we’ve had in over two months. We came up against at team that I think is playing very well right now. The way they pass, they become a very tough team to chase. If you do that, they are good enough to play through your pressure at times, especially when you are chasing the game."
"Yeah, we have to start feeling it if we’re heading into the playoffs really soon," Pontius said. "I thought there were moments in the game that we looked good. And again, Columbus is a tough team to play against. Give them credit. They move the ball extremely well, and they’ve got the leading scorer in the league on their team as well. It’s a tough game, but I thought we created enough chances tonight to get a result."
D.C. (13-11-6), now in 4th in the Eastern Conference, goes to Jamaica to play Montego Bay United in their last CONCACAF Champions League group play match mid-week before going to Canada to play the Montreal Impact Saturday. They will miss Perry Kitchen, who will be suspended for yellow card accumulation Saturday night. The Crew (13-9-8) move up to first in the East (ahead of Sunday's game between the New York Red Bulls and Portland Timbers) and will host the Timbers Saturday night.