Washington, D.C., May 2, 2015 – To say D.C. United missed Fabian Espindola through their first six MLS league matches is an obvious understatement after his dazzling performance tonight in D.C. United’s 2-0 victory over the Columbus Crew SC tonight at RFK Stadium.
Espindola, making his home debut for United this season, had a goal (above photo: Martin Fernandez) and an assist to lead United to their fifth victory in eight matches on the young season. United (5-1-2, 17 points) extended their unbeaten run to 6 games this season and unbeaten in 14 games going back to June of last year. Columbus (3-3-2, 11 points) remains in fourth place in Eastern Conference while United sits atop the division.
Despite giving up the territorial edge thru the first quarter hour of the match, it was United who struck first on a lightning-quick counter attack in the 15th minute. Chris Rolfe picked up a clearance from a Crew SC corner kick and bolted upfield. Rolfe’s pinpoint pass found Espindola in alone behind the Crew defense and the Argentine sniper easily beat goalkeeper Steven Clark for his first goal of the season.
Just three minutes later Espindola should have doubled the advantage but it was Clark’s turn to make the big play by stopping Fabi at point-blank range.
In the 41st minute Espindola made up for the close miss when he became provider for Sean Franklin’s back post tap-in on a corner kick to put the Black-and-Red up by 2-0. Espindola’s curling ball drifted past everyone in the penalty area and hit Franklin all alone for the easy side-footed finish into the empty net.
After the break the visitors understandably took it to United and nearly cut the lead in half when Federico Higuain’s diving header when inches wide of the near post in the 53rd minute. After that narrow miss, United started to grab a better foothold of the match and nearly extended the lead to 3-0 in the 63rd minute when Chris Korb set Chris Pontius free down the left flank. Pontius’ cross into the goalmouth was scrambled out by the Columbus defense just a fraction before United substitute Michael Farfan could poke it into the goal.
That defensive effort seemed to energize the Crew as they nearly scored twice in quick succession. The first chance came via a lazy turnover from United in the offensive half of the field that set Columbus on their own lightning-quick counter. Kei Kamara’s pass behind the retreating United defense almost found the sliding foot of Ethan Finlay but the chance went begging. Seconds later Kristinn Steindorrsson’s volley shaved just wide of the far post.
Columbus, who dominated possession most of the evening while United were perfectly happy to sting on the counter, continued to apply the pressure and pinned United down in their own end for essentially the last fifteen minutes of the match. However, as has been the case for most of this young season, United fended off the late surge and did what they failed to do in their last two home matches – close out the match.
United will now turn their attention to their match against Sporting Kansas City at RFK next weekend.
- Bill Hamid returned to the lineup and picked up his fourth shutout in six games. Before that on Friday Hamid signed a multi-year extension on his contract that will reportedly pay him approximately $350,000 per season according to multiple sources. Hamid was in the final year of his contract that he signed as a Homegrown Player in 2010.