Saturday, March 19, 2011 9:42 PMCSNwashington.com
D.C. UNITED PAGE D.C. UNITED VIDEO
A second-half explosion from one of the most highly-anticipated debutants in MLS history gave D.C. United a 3-1 win over the Columbus Crew Saturday night as both clubs opened their MLS campaigns. Charlie Davies slammed home a pair of goals in the final half hour as United erased memories of last year's brutal start.
"He was great tonight," United coach Ben Olsen, who picked up his first victory as D.C.'s full-time coach. "His speed is real, it changes the game. I'm really proud of him, I know everyone here is."
With Davies on the bench, the first half started with some promise for the home side as United created a trio of promising chances in the opening ten minutes. The best of the three opportunities came in the 7th minute as Chris Pontius broke in behind the Columbus defense and shot well on goal, forcing a diving stop from Crew goalie William Hesmer. United's best first-half scoring opportunity came just a few minutes later as Dax McCarty narrowly missed a well-hit ball following a great 1-on-1 move and cross from Josh Wolff. United may have felt they had the better of play in the first half, but the scoreless draw after 45 minutes was not entirely unfair.
With Joseph Ngwenya delivering a sub-par first half, the calls for Davies' debut to get underway were palpable by the time the second-half started. Davies first touches would be upstaged however by another former U.S. men's national team forward. In the 51st minute, Josh Wolff latched onto a mishandled service from Jed Zayner and the savvy veteran wasted no time slamming past Hesmer for a well-taken goal. Wolff celebrated by leaping into the stands, a move celebrated wildly by United's beleaguered fanbase.
"First game in a new city, with great fans," explained Wolff of his reaction to the goal. "We are kid-like, Charlie is over there doing his dance... for me it's doing what you feel at the moment. But really I was just glad to get on the board."
United's lead was doubled eleven minutes later when D.C. caught Columbus with a quick counter attack. Pontius brought the ball into the box before going 1-on-1 against defender Sebastian Miranda, a battle the Californian would win. The subsequent penalty was cooly converted by Davies, who had entered the match only ten minutes prior.
"There was no question I was taking that ball," Davies said post-game. "Dax McCarty came over with the ball and handed it to me and said 'We trust you'. That says it all."
Davies would strike again in the 77th minute as another long ball gave the Columbus defense issues. Chad Marshall was the primary party responsible as the usual reliable misjudged the ball badly allowing Davies in alone. The man everyone had come to see easily rounded Hesmer on his way to a second tally.
Columbus scored their only goal of the night in the 79th minute as Robbie Rogers scored from the penalty spot after a dubious hand-ball was called on United central defender Dejan Jakovic.
With the win, United picks up three crucial points and ensures the negative start that doomed their 2010 campaign. D.C. returns to action next Saturday as the Black-and-Red travel to New England for a 4:30 kickoff that can be seen only on Comcast SportsNet.