D.C. United became the first team to beat the Columbus Crew in their new home tonight, notching a 4-2 road victory at Lower.com Field. United overcame an early injury to goalkeeper Bill Hamid, leaning on two-goal performances from both Ola Kamara and Yordy Reyna to dispatch the defending MLS Cup champions.
The early going saw both teams comfortably able to hold each other off, but United got some bad news in the 14th minute. Bill Hamid came out to clear a long ball away from Erik Hurtado as the Black-and-Red were caught too far upfield, and though he succeeded, he pulled up immediately after the play. After being checked out for a couple of minutes, it was clear Hamid couldn’t continue, with Jon Kempin entering off the bench.
United didn’t let the news deter them, though, and took the lead in the 19th minute. Yordy Reyna sprinted ahead to cut off a passing lane for Aboubacar Keita, and the young defender lost track of the ball at his feet. Reyna pounced to poke the ball loose, and Ola Kamara ran onto it before tidily shooting low past Eloy Room.
While Crew star Lucas Zelarayán blazed a shot wide in the 23rd minute after a United giveaway, United were having the better of the game even after the goal, with Kamara and Tony Alfaro both having very promising looks.
United survived a brief VAR check for a penalty kick, and then made sure their lead was more comfortable in the 40th minute. Junior Moreno opened play up with a wonderful, line-breaking pass from deep, sending Najar into the corner on the left. Najar evaded Saad Abdul-Salaam before crossing for Reyna, whose slashing run allowed him to expertly glance the ball down and past Room. For Reyna, the goal was his first in a United kit since arriving late last season via trade.
A dream first half continued for the Black-and-Red. Kevin Paredes caught Crew captain Jonathan Mensah dallying on the ball, stealing it and getting into the box. Mensah dragged Paredes down, and referee Victor Rivas pointed to the spot. United wanted a red card that never came, but still had to be happy as Kamara buried the penalty with ease in first-half stoppage time, giving him nine goals on the season.
United made a defensive-minded substitution at halftime, removing Kamara for Drew Skundrich and moving into a 532, but the substitute immediately created some danger with a pass that caught Columbus out leading to Najar volleying high and wide.
The visitors were looking very comfortable, but the Crew finally carved out a real chance, with Kevin Molino taking advantage to make it 3-1. Gyasi Zardes, fresh off the Gold Cup, ran out of room after Kempin contested the initial service, but managed to poke the ball towards the goalmouth. Brillant seemed to have a chance to clear, but could only block the ball, and Molino knifed in to slam the ball into the roof of the net.
The Crew had come back to life, and Molino was involved as they made it 3-2 just six minutes later. United half-cleared a cross from Luis Díaz, but Darlington Nagbe moved the ball to the left. Molino sent a curler that seemed to be going wide only to bend its way into the crossbar, and with Kempin caught out, Zelarayán did enough to guide it home.
United were reeling, but conjured up a perfect response in the 74th minute. Skundrich lead the break forward on the counter, swinging the ball to the right for Reyna, who was isolated against Keita. Reyna set the young defender up before faking his way to an opening and ripping a shot from 20 yards past Room, making it 4-2.
Kempin made a fingertip save on a 90th minute laser from substitute Pedro Santos to make sure the eventful game didn’t see any more goals scored, but from there United prevented any further late drama.
The wild win sees United (7W-3D-7L) on 24 points, pushing them above the red line in the Eastern Conference and into 6th place. They’ll host CF Montreal, who they just hopped over with tonight’s results, at Audi Field Sunday night at 8:00pm.
MLS Regular Season - Game 17
Columbus Crew (Molino 65, Zelarayán 71
D.C. United (Kamara 19, 48+pen; Reyna 40, 74
Crew (4231): Eloy Room; Saad Abdul-Salaam, Jonathan Mensah (C), Aboubacar Keita, Waylon Francis (Alexandru Mățan 80); Darlington Nagbe, Marlon Hairston (Pedro Santos 72); Kevin Molino, Lucas Zelarayán, Derrick Etienne Jr. (Luis Díaz 56); Erik Hurtado (Gyasi Zardes 56)
DCU (343): Bill Hamid (Jon Kempin 17); Steven Birnbaum, Frédéric Brillant (C), Tony Alfaro; Julian Gressel, Felipe Martins, Junior Moreno, Andy Najar; Yordy Reyna (Griffin Yow 80), Ola Kamara (Drew Skundrich 46), Kevin Paredes (Yamil Asad 72)
Crew - Keita 24, Etienne Jr. 30, Mensah 46+
DCU - Alfaro 66