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Fabian Espindola, Sean Franklin fire D.C. United to 2-0 victory over Columbus Crew

Espindola and Franklin net for the first time in MLS play this season as United cruise at home against the Crew

Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports

D.C. United ran their unbeaten streak to six games in MLS play on Saturday night, beating the Columbus Crew 2-0 at RFK Stadium. Fabian Espindola and Sean Franklin both struck in the first half for the Black-and-Red as they defeated the Crew for the first time since October 2012.

Espindola's opener in the 15th minute came at the end of an expertly worked counter from Chris Rolfe, who picked up a loose ball from his own box and worked his way up before finding Espindola. Franklin then added the insurance in the first half, volleying home Espindola's corner.

With the win, United kept pace with the New England Revolution atop the Eastern Conference, with United claiming 17 points from their first eight games.

The clash between two of MLS original sides got off to a slow start, as each team was content trying to slowly build possession up from the back.

Nick DeLeon had the first chance of the game, after a bit of head tennis between him and Chris Pontius. Espindola's cross from the left found DeLeon, who headed to Pontius, with the favor quickly returned. The ball set up perfectly for DeLeon to volley, but his effort from the top of the box was off target.

The next chance then saw United take the lead 15 minutes. Columbus worked themselves a corner kick, but the Black-and-Red cleared Federico Higuain's attempt, and quickly broke the other way via Rolfe. Rolfe made his was from the top of his own box into Crew territory, before releasing a perfectly timed pass beyond the defense for Espindola.

Espindola ran on, and with just Steve Clark to put, calmly slotted home for his first MLS goal in his second game back from a six game suspension.

The Argentine should have added a second four minutes later, but was stymied by Clark this time. Franklin's pass and Espindola's run were perfectly in sync to beat a Columbus offside trap. United's number 10 was all alone in front of goal with just Clark to beat, but the Crew keeper made the save.

There were a couple of more missed opportunities from United in the minutes to follow. An errant pass from Espindola ruined what looked to be a promising attack, and Davy Arnaud copied that effort later. Arnaud then got in a dangerous cross to the far post, but Hernan Grana cleared out for a corner which DC couldn't convert.

Columbus then went on the offensive, looking for their target man Kei Kamara to get back into the game. After several crosses just eluded him, Grana finally picked him out in the 36th minute. But after managing to turn Bobby Boswell in the box, Kamara had his effort expertly blocked by Kofi Opare.

Franklin then doubled United's advantage with four minutes to go in the half. Espindola whipped in an inswinging corner from the right, and Clark failed to get to the ball in the air. Franklin made a run to the far post, and with no one marking him, was able to volley home for the 2-0 lead.

Justin Meram came closest for the Crew in stoppage time, getting on the end of a Grana cross. But Meram wasn't able to twist his body enough to get his effort on goal, hitting wide on the volley.

Gregg Berhalter made several changes to his lineup in the second half, looking to turn things around for the Crew. Meram and Waylon Francis made way for Kristinn Steindorsson and Chris Klute. And it was Klute who almost made an immediate impact, with a cross finding Higuain in the 53rd minute. But Higuain's diving header sailed just past the post, with Bill Hamid at full stretch.

Michael Farfan came on for DeLeon in the second half, and within seconds, nearly added to United's lead. Pontius made his way down the left, and worked some space for a cross, which was cut out for a corner just before Farfan could get the crucial touch.

Kamara, so often the target for crosses from his teammates, then turned provider in the 65th minute. After being played in behind United's defense, the striker expertly sent in a ball towards the far post, but it was just too far for the sliding Ethan Finley, and United escaped unscathed.

Another Klute cross found Steindorsson three minutes later, but the midfielder was only able to slash a volley wide, before Espindola smashed into the side netting at the other end.

The Crew then revved up the pressure as the game wore down, but were unable to find the sort of break through that could have found them back in the game.

Tony Tchani took several long range curling efforts, but neither managed to really test Hamid, who caught both of the efforts. Kamara rose above Boswell to win a header from a Hector Jimenez cross in the 80th minute, but the header bounced harmlessly wide of the mark.

Higuain had a corner weakly punched out by Hamid, with the ball falling to Mohammed Saeid, but the midfielder's volley was well wide of the mark.

Substitute Luis Silva had two opportunities to add a third for United, but his soft chip was easily saved off the line by Tchani, before Clark saved an effort from a tight angle in stoppage time.

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