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Once United took the lead, the game opened up. In the 58th minute, Pontius nearly bagged his second goal when he put his own rebound just over the bar.

As D.C. grew fatigued, Columbus heaped on the pressure late. Goalkeeper Bill Hamid asserted himself well, though, and his defenders lunged to block several shots.

“It wasn’t a great performance from us overall,” Olsen said. “But it was a win. And it was an important win right now, with the results we’ve had as of late. We had to grind one out.”

NOTES: Defender Daniel Woolard exited in the 63rd minute when he suffered a head injury in a collision with Dudar. Substitutes Lewis Neal and Dejan Jakovic filled in at left back. … Midfielder Branko Boskovic played the full 90 minutes for the first time since Oct. 23, 2010. The Montenegrin tore his ACL in April 2011. … Designated player Hamdi Salihi (five goals) was left of the 18-man game-day roster as a coach’s decision.