Gift victory is just what United ordered

their first in Columbus since July 7, 1999 -- United move into a playoff position until at least Monday, while the Crew languish in last place in the Eastern Conference, six points from their closest competitor. The Crew have won just twice in their last dozen games.

The first half was played at a fast pace, but with few real scoring chances. In the first 20 minutes, the teams combined for only two shots on goal, each of which was saved easily.

But, in the 26th minute, Rodriguez nearly caught Rimando cheating. The D.C. 'keeper was leaning to his right, apparently anticipating that "El Loco" would send a cross to the far post, but Rodriguez instead tried to slip a shot past Rimando at the near post. Luckily for United, Rimando nimbly dove back to his left to tip the ball away from danger.

An end-to-end swing later in the half ended with Rimando again playing the hero. In minute 33, United attacker Nana Kuffour pounded home a Dema Kovalenko cross from close range but was adjudged to be in an offside position.

Less than a minute later, the Crew burst forward with defender Robin Fraser freeing John Wolyniec behind the United defense. Wolyniec won a penalty kick for the home side as John Wilson chopped him down on a desperation tackle, and Rodriguez stepped up to the spot only to be denied again by Rimando, who leaped to his right to punch away the shot.

D.C. United increased their attacking pressure early in the second half as Jaime Moreno got more involved. The veteran's influence came mostly as a provider on the left side of the box, as he eluded defenders on a few occasions to get to the goal line and center the ball. Only once was a teammate able to get a shot off, though, when Kuffour hit a weak shot in the 55th minute that Walker easily covered.

United were never made to pay for their inability to finish, and in the 64th minute, Marshall provided the final touch that the United attackers could not. D.C. midfielder Christian Gomez started the play by sending second-half substitute Jamil Walker toward the goal line with a pass, and when Walker played a square ball across the top of the six-yard box, the 'keeper couldn't reach it and Crew defender Ryan Kelly flubbed his clearance attempt, the ball going right back to Gomez. The Argentinean tried to find Moreno with a wild pass across goal, but United got a lucky bounce -- and game-winning goal -- off Marshall's leg.

The Crew pressed to get back in the game, but rarely shot the ball in the game's latter stages and were further hurt when Kyle Martino was sent off for a second caution in the 75th minute.

At one point with just more than 15 minutes left, midfielder David Testo sent a cross to the back post where four of his teammates were waiting, but Edson Buddle attempted to head the ball down to the opposite post rather than putting the ball on frame. Simon Elliott finally gave Rimando something to do in stoppage time, but the D.C. 'keeper smothered the effort. Man of the Match: Nick Rimando (D.C. United)

Jason Halpin is a contributor to This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Soccer or its clubs.

D.C. United (6-5-4) vs. Columbus Crew (4-9-2)
July 02, 2005 -- Columbus Crew Stadium

Scoring Summary:
DC -- own goal (Chad Marshall) 64

D.C. United -- Nick Rimando, Brandon Prideaux, Bobby Boswell, John Wilson, Dema Kovalenko (Clyde Simms 82), Freddy Adu (David Stokes 46), Brian Carroll, Christian Gomez, Joshua Gros, Nana Kuffour (Jamil Walker 60), Jaime Moreno.

Substitutes Not Used: Shawn Kuykendall, Troy Perkins.

TOTAL SHOTS: 10 (3 tied with 2); SHOTS ON GOAL: 1 (Dema Kovalenko 1); FOULS: 16 (Brandon Prideaux 3, John Wilson 3); OFFSIDES: 4 (4 tied with 1); CORNER KICKS: 0; SAVES: 4 (Nick Rimando 4)

Columbus Crew -- Jonny Walker, Ryan Kelly (Stephen Armstrong 78), Robin Fraser, Chad Marshall, Mark Schulte, Mario Rodriguez (David Testo 61), Simon Elliott, Kyle Martino, Chris Henderson, Edson Buddle (Knox Cameron 86), John Wolyniec.

Substitutes Not Used: Devin Barclay, Bill Gaudette, Domenic Mediate, Marcus Storey, Eric Vasquez, Chris Wingert.

TOTAL SHOTS: 8 (Simon Elliott 2, Mario Rodriguez 2); SHOTS ON GOAL: 4 (Mario Rodriguez 2); FOULS: 10 (3 tied with 2); OFFSIDES: 2 (Edson Buddle 1, Chris Henderson 1); CORNER KICKS: 8 (Chris Henderson 5); SAVES: 1 (Jonny Walker 1)

Misconduct Summary:
CLB -- Kyle Martino (caution; Reckless Foul) 11
DC -- Brandon Prideaux (caution; Professional Foul) 14
DC -- Dema Kovalenko (caution; Reckless Foul) 16
CLB -- Kyle Martino (caution; Reckless Foul) 75
CLB -- Kyle Martino (ejection; Second Caution) 75
DC -- Christian Gomez (caution; Tackle from Behind) 92+

Referee: Jair Marrufo
Referee's Assistants: Nathan Clement; Steven Taylor
4th Official: Hilario Grajeda
Attendance: 12,998
Time of Game: 1:50
Weather: Partly Cloudy-and-74-degrees

All statistics contained in this boxscore are unofficial.

Stay connected: Get access to breaking news, videos, and analysis from North America's best soccer reporters via "This Week in MLS" newsletter or using our FREE mobile app.