United remains alive in playoff chase with 1-0 win over Columbus

On a night when a loss would have eliminated D.C. United from the postseason playoff race, the Black and Red scratched and clawed their way to a 1-0 win over the Columbus Crew last night before an announced crowd of 16,274 fans at cold and rainy RFK Stadium. In the 17th minute Luciano Emilio took Boyzzz Khumalo’s through pass and touched the ball over the onrushing Columbus goalkeeper Will Hesmer and watched it trickle over the goal line before Danny O’Rourke cleared it out to no avail. United held on as the visitors had most of the play for the remainder of the evening and defended in numbers and often times looked very much disinterested in going for a second goal to finish off the match. United had a total of 3 shots for the entire 90 minutes with no shots at all coming in the second half.

Steve Cronin made his debut in goal for United and looked the part throughout the 90 minutes. He made a number of saves, his best of which was stopping a 25th minute screamer from Robbie Rogers. Cronin was called on to make a few more saves in the first half but rarely had anything to do in the second half aside from snagging a few wayward crosses or aggressively coming off his line and punching out potentially dangerous crosses. For all the possession the visitors had in the second half, they could only manage one shot themselves in conditions that started off poorly and got progressively worse as the game wore on. By games end the hardest rain of the day was falling but United somehow escaped and now in combination with other results across MLS, United is in a 4-way tie for the last playoff spot on 39 points. As it stands at the moment, United would be out of the playoffs due to the tie-breaking procedures of MLS. However, oddly enough, even though they are closer to elimination than making the playoffs, they can still actually gain the 2nd seed in the Eastern Conference. United would need first of all for Chicago to lose their last match at home to Chivas USA on Thursday night. Not exactly an impossible request seeing as Chicago has already lost four times at Toyota Park this season. United would then have to win their match in Kansas City and then would hope for a Toronto FC loss in New York (not likely) and a New England loss in Columbus (pretty likely). If that combination of games comes to fruition, United will incredibly be the #2 seed in the East and would play away to Chicago in the first round of the playoffs.

Needless to say, it will be an unbelievable weekend next week and United still has very much to play for. United however still has a midweek trip to Toluca in Mexico for their final CONCACAF Champions League match. An unlikely win at Toluca would advance United into the knockout round of the tournament beginning next February. If United loses or draws, they have to hope that they match at best Marathon’s result at winless San Juan Jabloteh.

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