The Columbus Crew rode an early Tony Sanneh goal to a 1-0 victory against a 10-man D.C. United in front of a sold-out Columbus Crew Stadium on Saturday night, extending their record unbeaten streak to 14 games while maintaining their advantage atop the Eastern Conference.
Sanneh's glancing header after just 10 minutes was the only goal of the match, United reduced to 10 men just before the halftime break when captain Ryan Nelsen was sent off for a second yellow card in the half.
Both teams began the match with the same teams that started crucial home victories last weekend, but by the end of the half United's team bore little resemblance to the squad Peter Nowak sent out to open the contest.
Nowak was forced into an change in the 25th minute when Jaime Moreno pulled up limping with a left hamstring strain. U.S. international Earnie Stewart was called into action for the visitors, Nowak choosing to put him up top alongside Alecko Eskandarian.
If not for two outstanding saves by Crew 'keeper Jon Busch, United would have leveled the score in the 34th minute. Christian Gomez set up a ball near the top of the box for Eskandarian, but Busch tipped aside his hooking effort headed for the upper corner. On the ensuing corner, Gros hit a low drive that Busch again held.
The Crew were given a numerical advantage just before the half after Nelsen fouled Edson Buddle right in front of the Crew bench to receive his second yellow card of the game and an immediate expulsion.
But though they were down to 10 men, United started the second half in good fashion. Stewart slotted the ball through traffic to Eskandarian, but his shot was swatted away by Busch.
The Crew's Kyle Martino then squandered a glorious chance in the 58th minute. He ran onto a perfect pass behind the visitors defense and rounded Rimando in the United area. However, with no one to beat and the goal gaping, Martino was denied by the woodwork.
United continued to push forward and won a dangerous free kick in the 73rd minute as Eskandarian found Kovalenko just outside the penalty box, where Sanneh was adjudged to have taken him down, earning a yellow card. But Eskandarian skied the resulting kick well over the goal.
D.C. then had a free kick in the same position in the 79th minute, but it was easily cleared -- and the play found Cunningham who also came in alone on Rimando. But under pressure from a hustling Stewart, Cunningham lofted the ball right into Rimando's arms.
Columbus almost paid for their missed chances as Eskandarian found Stewart in front of goal. His first attempt on goal was blocked by Chad Marshall, but Stewart regained the ball and his second shot was stopped by Busch, the last gasp for United.
United remains on the road for their next league match, facing the MetroStars at Giants Stadium next Saturday (7:30 p.m. ET), but first they play host to Guatemalan club Municipal of Guatemala on Wednesday night. The Crew conclude the home portion of their schedule against the Chicago Fire next Saturday (7:30 p.m. ET).
MLSnet.com Man of the Match: Jon Busch (Columbus Crew)
D.C. United (8-10-9) vs. Columbus Crew (11-5-10)
September 25, 2004 -- Columbus Crew Stadium
CLB -- Tony Sanneh 2 (Simon Elliott 8) 10
D.C. United -- Nick Rimando, Bryan Namoff, Ryan Nelsen, Mike Petke, Joshua Gros, Brian Carroll, Ben Olsen (Freddy Adu 72), Christian Gomez (Ezra Hendrickson 46), Dema Kovalenko, Alecko Eskandarian, Jaime Moreno (Earnie Stewart 25).
Substitutes Not Used: Troy Perkins, Brandon Prideaux.
TOTAL SHOTS: 12 (Alecko Eskandarian 5); SHOTS ON GOAL: 6 (Alecko Eskandarian 3); FOULS: 11 (Bryan Namoff 2, Ryan Nelsen 2); OFFSIDES: 3 (3 tied with 1); CORNER KICKS: 6 (Christian Gomez 3); SAVES: 3 (Nick Rimando 3)
Columbus Crew -- Jon Busch, Duncan Oughton (Nelson Akwari 88), Robin Fraser, Chad Marshall, Frankie Hejduk (Jeff Cunningham 63), Simon Elliott, Ross Paule, Tony Sanneh, Chris Wingert, Edson Buddle, Kyle Martino (David Testo 89).
Substitutes Not Used: Devin Barclay, Eric Denton, Matt Jordan, Manny Lagos, Brian Maisonneuve, Danny Szetela.
TOTAL SHOTS: 10 (Edson Buddle 3, Jeff Cunningham 3); SHOTS ON GOAL: 4 (4 tied with 1); FOULS: 13 (Tony Sanneh 3); OFFSIDES: 0; CORNER KICKS: 2 (Simon Elliott 1, Ross Paule 1); SAVES: 6 (Jon Busch 6)
DC -- Ryan Nelsen (caution; Dissent) 20
DC -- Ryan Nelsen (caution; Reckless Foul) 44
DC -- Ryan Nelsen (ejection; Second Caution) 44
CLB -- Tony Sanneh (caution; Tackle from Behind) 72
CLB -- Duncan Oughton (caution; Reckless Foul) 79
DC -- Earnie Stewart (caution; Pushing, Holding) 80
DC -- Alecko Eskandarian (caution; Reckless Foul) 82
Referee: Jair Marrufo
Referee's Assistants: -George Gansner; Jose Corro
4th Official: Baldomero Toledo
Time of Game: 1:52
Weather: Partly Cloudy-and-70-degrees
All Statistics in this box score are unofficial.