WASHINGTON — Three second-half goals propelled D.C. United to an opening-day victory over the visiting Columbus Crew in front of 18,132 fans at RFK Stadium. Debutant Charlie Davies’ two goals will get the headlines, but fellow newcomer Josh Wolff got the rout started with his first goal in a United uniform.
The lone Crew goal came from a Robbie Rogers penalty kick late in the second half.
Both sides began the game with five new starters compared to 2010, and the evidence of change was prevalent early on, as midfield and attacking exchanges were a bit out of sync.
In Ben Olsen’s first game as permanent head coach of United, his side was aggressive early and had chances to open the scoring. A scintillating Josh Wolff run found Dax McCarty wide open at the top of the box, but he scuffed his shot wide.
On the other end, Crew midfielder Dejan Rusmir couldn’t convert a set piece chance as United defender Marc Burch cleared off the line a few minutes later.
The second half saw more fireworks, beginning in the 51st minute. While Davies was preparing to come on as a substitute, Wolff got on the end of a through ball from Jed Zayner, out-muscling rookie Rich Balchan and firing a shot past goalkeeper Will Hesmer with the outside of his right foot.
Five minutes later, United doubled the lead, when midfielder Chris Pontius was fouled in the box. With US national team fans across the country crossing their fingers, Davies stepped up and slotted his penalty home to Hesmer’s right side.
The Crew weren’t ready to go away, looking the most threatening on set piece opportunities.
DC goalkeeper Pat Onstad was called into action in the 69th minute, when new Crew forward Tom Heinemann tested the United ‘keeper with a header off a Eddie Gaven free kick.
Davies then added his second, pouncing on a Crew defensive mistake as Chad Marshall slipped while trying to deal with a Marc Burch long ball, Davies was able to round Hesmer and slot home.
Just seconds after Davies’ second goal, Columbus scored when Dejan Jakovic handled Robbie Rogers’ shot in the box. Rogers struck from the spot, reducing the Crew deficit to two goals.
But it wasn’t enough on a night that clearly belonged to Davies and United head coach Ben Olsen, who earned three points in his first game without the interim tag.
DC -- Josh Wolff 1 (Jed Zayner 1) 51
DC -- Charlie Davies 1 (penalty kick) 63
DC -- Charlie Davies 2 (Marc Burch 1) 77
CLB -- Robbie Rogers 1 (penalty kick) 79
CLB -- Dilly Duka (caution; Reckless Tackle) 16
DC -- Marc Burch (caution; Reckless Tackle) 38
DC -- Josh Wolff (caution; Shirt Removal) 52
CLB -- Julius James (caution; Reckless Tackle) 60
Columbus Crew -- William Hesmer, Sebastian Miranda, Julius James, Chad Marshall, Rich Balchan, Dejan Rusmir, Emmanuel Ekpo, Eddie Gaven, Dilly Duka (Robbie Rogers 66), Jeff Cunningham (Tommy Heinemann 60), Andres Mendoza.
Substitutes Not Used: Kevin Burns, Andy Iro, Emilio Renteria, Josh Williams, Andy Gruenebaum.
D.C. United -- Pat Onstad, Jed Zayner (Rodrigo Brasesco 70), Dejan Jakovic, Perry Kitchen, Marc Burch, Andy Najar, Dax McCarty, Clyde Simms, Chris Pontius, Joseph Ngwenya (Charlie Davies 52), Josh Wolff (Santino Quaranta 83).
Substitutes Not Used: Branko Boskovic, Blake Brettschneider, Kurt Morsink, Joe Willis.
Referee: Mark Geiger
Referee's Assistants: Eric Boria; Sean Hurd
4th Official: Landis Wiley
Time of Game: 1:51
Weather: Partly Cloudy and 55 degrees