Shorthanded United withstand a Columbus rally to earn first victory of 2018

An early goal from Ulises Segura and a massive performance in goal from Steve Clark gave D.C. United their first victory of the 2018 season in a 1-0 win over Columbus Crew SC Saturday night at Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium.

Segura gave the Black-and-Red the lead just 43 seconds into the match after whipping in a shot off a Paul Arriola pass. The strike was the third-fastest in the club’s history, and gave D.C. the early advantage.

The goal came off of a lovely build up play that began with a back heel pass from Luciano Acosta to Arriola at the top of the box. Arriola passed it along to Segura, who one-timed the bouncing ball into the back of the net past Columbus goalkeeper Zack Steffen.

After the goal, Columbus threatened to equalize with a couple of shots on target late in the first half. A deep, swerving attempt from Cristian Martínez in the 45th minute tested Clark for the first time in the game, forcing him to jump and grab the driving shot. It was the beginning of a busy night to preserve the one goal advantage.

Clark had the crossbar to thank soon after, as a Pedro Santos free kick banged off the corner of the woodwork in stoppage time of the first half that was inches away from giving Columbus a game-tying goal.

The match took a turn early in the second half, as a 51st minute challenge from Arriola resulted in a red card after video review. The card reduced United to 10 men for the rest of the evening.

The man advantage allowed the Crew to control a majority of the possession as they continued to search for an equalizer. It almost came in the 61st minute off the head of Santos, whose headed attempt forced a diving save from Clark. The United keeper kept Columbus off the board with a lunging, one-handed block to keep the ball out before it was cleared. Five minutes later, Clark was forced to the ground again to make another reaction save off a headed attempt from Gyasi Zardes.

The Black-and-Red withstood a barrage from the Crew’s attack in the last half hour of the match. A 92nd minute save off a Héctor Jiménez shot kept the Columbus attack at bay.

United welcomed the sound of the final whistle to come away with their first victory of the season.

The match was the Black-and-Red’s last local action before the opening of Audi Field, on Saturday, July 14 against the Vancouver Whitecaps. United will hit the road again on Saturday, April 28, as the they travel to Philadelphia to take on the Union.

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