Powered by a first-half strike by Edson Buddle, the Columbus Crew survived a late surge by D.C. United to claim a 1-0 victory in a match between the Eastern Conference rivals on a splendid spring evening Friday at Columbus Crew Stadium.
Buddle scored his MLS-leading third goal of the season, turning home a free kick in the first half, then Crew goalkeeper Jon Busch made two world-class saves after the break as the Crew won their second match of the season while United lost for the first time this season.
United coach Peter Nowak had four newcomers in his starting lineup -- including Freddy Adu, making his first start of the season, and Santino Quaranta, making his first league start since the 2003 season.
But it was the Crew that started the stronger, getting a couple of good early chances. Simon Elliott hit a well-struck shot off a free kick in the fourth minute, but hit it wide left, then Buddle finished a sequence after a turnover with an excellent turn, but ultimately his attempt was high and wide of the target.
D.C. found their groove in the 17th minute with a pair of superb chances. A shot deflected off the Crew defense directly into the path of Quaranta who hit a charged ball from the top of the penalty box that tested Busch. The Crew 'keeper was up to the challenge, but the rebound went to Brian Carroll, though his shot was wide.
Just after Frankie Hejduk narrowly missed taking advantage of confusion in the United penalty area when he put a loose ball on top of the goal, the Crew won a free kick on the left flank when Carroll was adjudged to have held Kyle Martino in the corner.
Elliott whipped the ball into the six-yard box, and despite being surrounded by several defenders Buddle was able to turn and push the ball past United netminder Troy Perkins for the 26th-minute opener.
United nearly equalized through Adu in the 33rd minute. Adu beat the Crew defense on the sideline and played a perfect cross to Jamil Walker, but unfortunately for the visitors, Walker headed the ball directly into the arms of Busch.
Buddle then nearly hit for his second goal in the 41st minute. Ante Razov found an unmarked Buddle making a run to the far post, but his one-timer sailed just over the goal after Perkins expertly cut off the angle.
After the brutal schedule of the past week, Nowak saved Moreno and fellow striker Alecko Eskandarian and playmaker Christian Gomez for the second half in hopes of providing an equalizer for the visitors. Moreno came on at halftime, while the other attackers would come on later.
United began the second half with newfound attacking energy. Adu made a meandering run through the Crew defense and found Clyde Simms who lofted the shot well over the goal. Then Moreno collected a layoff from Mike Petke and squared it to Bobby Boswell, but he skied the shot over the target.
Following a foul on Adu by Hejduk in the 69th minute near the sideline, which earned both players a spot in Ricardo Salazar's book, Gomez fired a ball into a melee in the box. Razov inadvertently headed the ball on goal and Busch made a superb save to keep the visitors scoreless.
United kept the heat on the Crew in the 74th minute as Carroll played a brilliant ball to Moreno. Moreno went in alone on Busch and tried chipping the 'keeper. Crew defender Robin Fraser tried to escort the ball to safety but Adu came charging in to head the ball home at the far post. Fortunately for the Crew, Adu succeeded only in heading the ball into the side netting.
The Crew raced to the other end and Hejduk found Buddle for an wide-open header, but the Crew striker headed the ball over Perkins net.
D.C. resumed pressing the home side. Defender David Stokes strode into the box and pushed the ball to Moreno, who dropped the ball back to Gomez, but his curling shot narrowly missed the upper corner of the goal.
On the counter the Crew should have doubled the lead in the 90th minute as Razov and Buddle perfectly executed a one-two, but after the exquisite ball work Razov was surely disappointed as he completely missed the ball with only Perkins to beat.
United nearly made the Crew pay for the missed chance as Adu served a delightful cross to Moreno. Moreno met the ball with a diving header only to once again be denied by the outstretched fingers of Busch, the last gasp for the visitors.
D.C. United play host to the New England Revolution next Saturday (7:30 p.m. ET, HDNet) while the Columbus Crew travel to Denver to face the Colorado Rapids (9 p.m. ET) on the same night. However, on Wednesday the Crew will play at the Ohio State University in the annual Connor Senn Memorial Match.
MLSnet.com Man of the Match: Jon Busch (Columbus Crew)
John Kuhn is a contributor to MLSnet.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Soccer or its clubs.
D.C. United (1-1-1) vs. Columbus Crew (2-1-0)
April 15, 2005 -- Columbus Crew Stadium
CLB -- Edson Buddle 1 (Simon Elliott 1) 26
D.C. United -- Troy Perkins, David Stokes, Bobby Boswell, Mike Petke, Joshua Gros, Freddy Adu, Brian Carroll (Christian Gomez 70), Clyde Simms, Steve Guppy (Alecko Eskandarian 60), Santino Quaranta, Jamil Walker (Jaime Moreno 46).
Substitutes Not Used: Ben Olsen, Nick Rimando.
TOTAL SHOTS: 16 (5 tied with 2); SHOTS ON GOAL: 6 (6 tied with 1); FOULS: 19 (Joshua Gros 4); OFFSIDES: 3 (Santino Quaranta 2); CORNER KICKS: 2 (Freddy Adu 1, Alecko Eskandarian 1); SAVES: 1 (Troy Perkins 1)
Columbus Crew -- Jon Busch, Ryan Kelly, Robin Fraser, Chad Marshall, Frankie Hejduk, Simon Elliott, Kyle Martino (Manny Lagos 85), Danny Szetela (Chris Wingert 83), David Testo (Domenic Mediate 54), Ante Razov, Edson Buddle.
Substitutes Not Used: Devin Barclay, Knox Cameron, Matt Jordan, Mark Schulte, Marcus Storey, Jamal Sutton.
TOTAL SHOTS: 12 (Edson Buddle 7); SHOTS ON GOAL: 2 (Edson Buddle 1, Ante Razov 1); FOULS: 12 (Danny Szetela 4); OFFSIDES: 1 (Edson Buddle 1); CORNER KICKS: 1 (Ante Razov 1); SAVES: 6 (Jon Busch 6)
CLB -- Simon Elliott (caution; Professional Foul) 36
DC -- Joshua Gros (caution; Pushing, Holding) 38
CLB -- David Testo (caution; Persistent Infringement) 41
DC -- Steve Guppy (caution; Professional Foul) 57
CLB -- Frankie Hejduk (caution; Game Disrepute) 69
DC -- Freddy Adu (caution; Game Disrepute) 69
Referee: Ricardo Salazar
Referee's Assistants: -Thomas Supple; Adam Wienckowski
4th Official: Hilario Grajeda
Time of Game: 1:52
All statistics contained in this boxscore are unofficial.