Chris Pontius scored his 10th goal of the year as D.C. United kept pace in the Eastern Conference race with a 1-0 victory over the Columbus Crew on Saturday night at RFK Stadium.
Pontius got credit for the goal in the 49th minute, but Nick DeLeon did all the work. Dwayne De Rosario fed the rookie on the right flank, and DeLeon dribbled into the corner and cut back on Crew defender Josh Williams.
He then spun, muscled past Williams and sent a cross into the box. Long Tan put a backheel on the ball, and Crew goalkeeper Andy Gruenebaum batted it away. But the rebound bounced right to Pontius, who didn’t miss.
The goal was all D.C. needed to keep them in fourth place in the East standings and extend their winning streak at RFK to seven games.
United’s win also avenged their 1-0 loss in Columbus two weeks ago. The Crew’s two-game winning streak was snapped in the process.
Saturday’s game followed a-near identical pattern to their previous matchup at Crew Stadium on July 21 with a scoreless first half.
Columbus’ noticeably physical play didn’t go unnoticed by referee Allen Chapman. Midfielder Dilly Duka was shown a yellow card in the 24th minute for a foul on Chris Korb. Four minutes later, Justin Meram was given a caution, followed by another yellow in the 36th minute on Chris Birchall.
D.C. out-posessed the Crew in the first frame, but the visitors still managed a handful of quality opportunities, including one by Duka in the fourth minute and a missed header by Josh Williams at the end of a 39th-minute corner.
Columbus had far fewer opportunities in the second half, and were put on their heels after Pontius’ strike.
The United striker nearly had his second goal when, in the 58th minute, he ran onto the ball, beat Chad Marshall and fired on Gruenebaum. The Crew netminder made the save, but the rebound bounced back to Pontius, who chipped it high over the net.
With the win, D.C. improve to 11-7-3 (36 points). They next head to first-place Sporting Kansas City on Aug. 11.
Columbus, meanwhile, drop to 8-8-4 (28 points). They next host Toronto FC, also on Aug. 11.
MEET THE TEAM ON SUNDAY - Volkswagen Ride & Ride
You are invited to attend the Volkswagen Ride & Drive with D.C. United on Sunday, August 5 at 1:00 PM in RFK Stadium Lot 7 following the Reserve League match against the Columbus Crew.
You can meet D.C. United players and test-drive a Volkswagen with them riding in the front passenger seat. Learn more
Lineups and boxscore (MLSsoccer.com)
Opta Chalkboard (MLSsoccer.com)