Both teams played physical throughout the first half, but it remained a largely defensive affair with few shots until the 32nd minute. That's when former Atlanta United teammates Yamil Asad and Julian Gressel, reunited in D.C. this season, connected. Asad sent a pass from the right flank that Gressel pinged off a Crew defender for the opening goal.
The Crew made a double substitution in the 57th minute, bringing on Lucas Zelarayan and Darlington Nagbe, who both recently returned from injury. They added to an attack in which Luis Diaz and Krisztian Nemeth got in some solid attempts, including a 73rd-minute Nemeth header that just skimmed over the crossbar. In the end, though, Columbus couldn't find the equalizer, and United continued a playoff push that seemed improbable just weeks ago.
- 32' – DC – Julian Gressel | WATCH
- THE BIG PICTURE: Each team came into Wednesday's match with a different motivation to win: Columbus are angling for playoff position, while D.C.'s fighting long odds to win a playoff spot. Though the match lacked urgency in some aspects — neither side recorded a save, for instance — this was very much a match United needed more, and it showed in the final result.
- MOMENT OF THE MATCH: The Gressel goal was obviously it, but let's take a moment to appreciate the Asad assist that made it possible as well.
- MAN OF THE MATCH: It's been an odd season for Gressel, registering only his second goal of the 2020 season on Wednesday, but he put in a full shift, helping on the defensive end, as well as breaking through at a key juncture of the season for his team.