Work in Sports
WASHINGTON (Ticker) -- By remaining perfect at home against the Columbus Crew, the D.C. United is one win away from remaining perfect in MLS Cup appearances.
Goals by Jaime Moreno and Ben Olsen were enough to give the United a 2-1 victory over the Crew in the opener of their best-of-three Eastern Conference semifinal series. The Crew is 0-12 all-time against the United at RFK Stadium.
With a win at Columbus on Sunday, the United will advance to their fourth MLS Cup in as many years. D.C. won the league's first two titles before being upset by the Chicago Fire in last year's championship match.
The early stages were largely dominated by the United's attack.
The forwards moved the ball well but were met with a tenacious and well-organized Columbus defense.
United jumped ahead in the 15th minute by taking advantage of the defense's aggressiveness. Marco Etcheverry launched a corner kick to the near post, drawing Columbus defenders forward. Defender Eddie Pope's leaping header redirected the ball to the far post, where an unmarked Moreno was able to run onto the ball and slam it into the back of the empty net.
The United are 22-4 when scoring first.
Moreno pressed the attack, forcing a spectacular save by 'keeper Mark Dougherty in the 68th minute and eliciting a desperation goalmouth block by defender Mike Lapper moments later.
Olsen scored an insurance goal in the 72nd minute, rushing onto John Maessner's cross from the left wing. Despite heavy pressure from the defense, Olsen redirected the ball back across the face of the goal. Dougherty got a hand on it but could only watch as the ball found its way to the back of the net.
Four minutes later, Columbus halved the deficit on midfielder Jeff Cunningham's second playoff goal in three games. Forward Stern John flicked a backwards cross to Brian McBride, who headed the ball to the top of the penalty area. Cunningham pounced on it and unleashed a scorcher that left D.C. 'keeper Tom Presthus stunned.
The Crew maintained momentum until the final whistle but could not collect the equalizer.