D.C. United extended their dramatic improvement in road form on Wednesday, edging Columbus Crew SC 1-0 at MAPFRE Stadium via a Wayne Rooney free-kick strike. D.C.'s first win in the Ohio capital since 2007, it's also their third away win of the season and keeps them in first place in the MLS Eastern Conference.
Rooney's winner, his fourth set-piece goal in his brief MLS career to date, was the sole moment of clinical finishing in a tight, end-to-end affair where both goalkeepers were busy, but many a chance went begging in front of goal.
The victory was probably made sweeter for D.C. by dint of the injury outbreak that prompted coach Ben Olsen to align his side in a rarely-used 3-4-3 formation anchored by young Homegrowns Donovan Pines in the center of defense and Chris Durkin in holding midfield.
United's 3-0-1 road record thus far marks a sea change from last season, when the Black-and-Red won just once on their travels en route to a grisly 1-9-7 mark away from Audi Field.
- 27' – DC – Wayne Rooney | WATCH
- THE BIG PICTURE: This midweek clash appeared to confirm two key data points about these teams; D.C. are deeply reliant on Rooney's leadership and quality, while Crew SC remain dramatically short on cutting edge in the final third, with just eight goals scored in their first nine games.
- MOMENT OF THE MATCH: Rooney's clinical set piece is the no-brainer here...
- MAN OF THE MATCH: Similarly, the English legend's contributions make him the odds-on MOTM choice, even in light of Pines' sturdy display in only his second career MLS appearance.