Columbus (4-5-5) at D.C. United (6-4-3), 6:30 p.m.
Washington, DC (SportsNetwork.com) - D.C. United will aim for a second
consecutive win on Saturday when the club hosts the Columbus Crew at
United comes into Saturday's tilt in second place in the Eastern Conference
with 21 points from 13 matches, having earned an impressive 1-0 victory over
defending champions Sporting Kansas City at RFK Stadium.
Fabian Espindola netted the only goal of the match in the 28th minute when he
collected the ball with his back to goal from 25 yards out and struck an
apparent cross, which Sporting goalkeeper Eric Kronberg misjudged badly to
allow the curling ball to find its way into the upper corner at the far post.
Sporting had an opportunity to equalize when a free kick from Benny Feilhaber
was nodded just inches wide of the post by Jacob Peterson, but United back
line held firm for an impressive victory.
"It was a battle. [Kansas City], they're a good team," goalkeeper Bill Hamid
said. "They're kind of known now this year as the [Real] Salt Lake of the East
Coast. They keep possession and they want to break teams down to tire them
out. They tried to do that tonight but we stayed strong."
"I think he needs freedom and he needs to be able to offset defenses and not
be constricted," United head coach Ben Olsen said. "I think we've given him
that here. I certainly think he has been as good as anybody in this league up
to this point, but no, it does not surprise me because he has been doing it
for a long time in this league, and he is a guy you never wanted to play
against as a coach or a player because how unpredictable he is, how ruthless
he is and his mentality."
Columbus, meanwhile, is coming off a 1-1 draw against Western Conference
powers Real Salt Lake on Wednesday at Crew Stadium.
RSL opened the scoring in the 56th minute when Luis Gil fired home a rebound
following a rocket off the foot of Abdoulie Mansally.
But the Crew found an equalizer two minutes from time as Ethan Finlay ran onto
the end of a through ball form Ben Speas and looped a gorgeous chipped effort
over the head of RSL goalkeeper Jeff Atinella.
"You end up being really proud of them on how they fought back and how they
were really determined to get something out of the game but the other side is
that we were in that position in the first place," Columbus head coach Gregg
Berhalter said. "I'm a little bit disappointed with the urgency in the first
half. We were playing at home and we really wanted to stampede our game on the
opponent and really take it to them and we missed that. I thought it was
better in the second half."