Work in Sports
WASHINGTON (Ticker) -- Midfielder Marco Etcheverry registered three assists and a goal as D.C. United earned its fourth consecutive trip to the MLS Cup Championship game, defeating the Columbus Crew 4-0 at RFK Stadium.
United won the best-of-three series, two games to one.
United recovered from last Sunday's 5-1 drubbing at the hands of the Crew in Columbus. With defender Eddie Pope back in the lineup after missing most of Game Two with an injured ankle, United was able to play a strong 4-4-2 formation, neutralizing the Crew's speed on the wings.
With the win, D.C. United extended its remarkable playoff success in RFK Stadium. United is now 12-0 at home in the postseason, with each game being decided in regulation time. Columbus has been unable to break the curse of RFK, having never recorded a win in 13 attempts there.
D.C. United's quick passes and solid teamwork paid off in the 17th minute when Jaime Moreno found the back of the net for his fourth goal of the postseason. Moreno tapped a pass to Etcheverry, who threaded the ball through several defenders to open space. Moreno ran onto the ball and fired a shot past Crew goalkeeper Mark Dougherty.
D.C. forward Roy Lassiter added an insurance goal in the 34th minute, capitalizing on another Etcheverry pass. The Bolivian midfielder launched a long, arcing pass behind Crew defender Mike Lapper. Lassiter battled his way around Lapper and redirected the ball past Dougherty with the outside of his left foot.
Lassiter recorded his third goal in two games in the 52nd minute with an acrobatic bicycle kick that beat Dougherty to the near post. Etcheverry earned his third assist on the night by delivering the ball to Moreno, who flicked it across the goal mouth. Lassiter's bicycle kick stayed low, and found the back of the net to give United the 3-0 lead.
Etcheverry added an exclamation point in the closing minutes of the game, hammering a free kick past Dougherty in the 86th minute.
The D.C. defense also showed signs of dominance, refusing to allow Columbus the freedom to operate on the flanks. Carlos Llamosa, appearing in his first game of the postseason, defused a dangerous situation in the 55th minute, stripping the ball from Brian West to prevent a breakaway chance for the Crew. Jeff Agoos and Brian Maessner combined to keep Jeff Cunningham under wraps as well, keeping the explosive Columbus midfielder from generating any offense.
D.C. United will now travel to Foxboro Stadium in a campaign to reclaim the MLS Championship on Sunday, November 21. United's opponent will be the Western Conference Champion L.A. Galaxy, who fell to United in the inaugural MLS Cup in 1996, also held at Foxboro. No other team from the Eastern Conference has ever advanced past United to play in the MLS Cup, which D.C. won in 1996 and 1997.