Some poor finishing might have made it more tense than they would have liked, but the Columbus Crew were able to make a 26th-minute goal from Edson Buddle stand up for more than an hour as they weathered a potent second-half blitz from D.C. United in claiming a 1-0 win on Friday night at Columbus Crew Stadium.
Simon Elliott served a free kick to Buddle in the box and Buddle was able to use his strength and determination to fight off United's defense. Buddle turned as he shielding the ball from a number of opponents and poked home the only goal of the evening.
"It was good ball by Simon. I had to fight for it. It was just that kind of night," said Buddle. "I was able to keep the defenders on my back. I was trying to just get a foot on it and put it on goal."
It might not have been the most elegant of goals, but it was enough for the home side to take the spoils.
"If it hits the back of the net, it counts. It was just a great effort," said Crew boss Greg Andrulis. "[Buddle] never gave up on it and found a way. That is what good goal scorers do."
The Crew were able to dominate most of the first half, but the match changed after United coach Peter Nowak brought on Alecko Eskandarian, Jaime Moreno and Christian Gomez after the break. Although the attacking energy changed directions with the moves, Crew netminder Jon Busch held United at bay.
"We started slow in the second half and gave them some momentum. It is a good three points at home and good shutout for Jon Busch," said Andrulis. "He made a few big time saves. We need to do a better job of finishing."
Busch's finest save was occurred in the waning moments of the match. United pushed forward after Ante Razov was unable to double the Crew lead on a breakaway against 'keeper Troy Perkins. The visitors funneled the ball to Freddy Adu, who provided an excellent service to Moreno. Moreno tested Busch to his utmost potential with a header, but the man of the match confidently answered the challenge with a fine save.
"On the save off of Jamie Moreno's flick, I don't think I have seen a better one in a long time. It was phenomenal," said Andrulis. "Clearly, we needed him to get to come up big tonight. He is playing with a lot of confidence."
Busch even made a spectacular save from the most unexpected of places. Gomez served a cross into a swarm of people in the penalty area and Razov accidentally headed the ball toward his own team's goal.
"He made another great save, but I don't remember who hit it," said Andrulis. After being informed that it was Razov who nearly struck for an own-goal equalizer, Andrulis was first surprised and then had a chuckle and joked: "Razov? Those are always the hardest ones."
The win surely helped provide the punch line.
John Kuhn is a contributor to MLSnet.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Soccer or its clubs.