The curse is over for the Columbus Crew, thanks to some unexpected help.
D.C. United put a goal in its own net to help the Crew win for the first time in 14 tries in the nation’s capital 2-1 last night before 11,872 at RFK Stadium.
In the 88th minute, Crew forward Dante Washington launched a long throw-in into the box. Robert Warzycha headed the ball forward, and United midfielder Richie Williams headed the ball backward, beating D.C. goalkeeper Mark Simpson to the net’s upper left corner.
“It was a long throw-in, and it was pretty close to me when it got flicked,” Williams said. “I just stuck my head out trying to defend it, and it hit off my head and went perfectly in the goal.”
That was the second own goal in the past two home games for United. In a 3-2 overtime loss to the New York/New Jersey MetroStars on April 22, defender Jeff Agoos played a ball back to goalkeeper Tom Presthus that went in the net.
For the fourth time this season, United outplayed an opponent and lost. After the game, coach Thomas Rongen insisted roster moves are not what this struggling team needs.
“Today was an aberration,” Rongen said. “This is a game that we play 20 more times and win 20 more times. The harsh reality at this level is that you get judged by your wins and losses.”
This was a game United (1-5-1) should have won after outshooting the Crew 15-4. United controlled possession 66 percent of the game. The Crew had only two shots on United’s goal. If you count Williams’ errant header, United put half as many shots on its own goal as the Crew did all game.
“The only people that are going to turn this team around are the people on the field and the ones that train every day,” Simpson said.
United is off to its second-worst start in the history of the franchise. In their inaugural season of 1996, United opened the season 1-6.
It took central defender Carey Talley’s 59th-minute header to tie the game 1-1. On a free kick, United midfielder Marco Etcheverry played the ball to Jaime Moreno lurking around the 6-yard-box. Moreno turned and sent a cross to the far post. An unmarked Talley headed the ball in for his first goal of the season.
The Crew (3-4-1) scored the game’s first goal on Warzycha’s free kick, courtesy of a foul on Talley. The United player was whistled when he pulled down Major League Soccer’s leading scorer, Washington, of Columbia, Md., from behind and just outside the 18-yard box.
In the 52nd minute, Warzycha bent his free kick over United’s wall and beat Simpson to the upper left corner of the net, and the Crew had a surprising 1-0 lead. Warzycha’s goal was his second of the season.
Bobby Convey, United’s 16-year-old sensation, held his own in his first-ever professional start. Rongen has been unhappy with the play of his left-flank midfielders and decided to give Convey a look in this game.
Despite being the youngest player to ever sign contract with MLS, Convey looked comfortable and in his own element. In the first half, he perfectly executed two nice crosses into the box, only to find no black jerseys.
Convey did what he was instructed to do. He ran back, helped defend and made no wild runs off the flank. Convey played a cautious, controlled game.
In the scoreless first half, United outshot the Crew 8-2 and had three excellent goal-scoring opportunities but came up empty.
United forward Chris Albright missed three shots on or near the 6-yard box. In the 15th minute, Crew goalkeeper Mark Dougherty smothered his shot from the right edge of the box.
Twice in the 24th minute, Albright was errant on the Crew goal. Albright, who was the star of the U.S. Olympic qualifying team last week in Hershey, Pa., hit a half-volley from the right side of the 6-yard box that Dougherty saved beautifully. Seconds later, Albright was high and wide of the goal, this time from the left-side of the box.
Notes United officially announced the club will play Newcastle United in an exhibition July 22 at RFK but don’t expect to see a full United squad. The U.S. national team has a World Cup qualifier scheduled that weekend in San Jose… . United forward A.J. Wood was unavailable last night after straining his left groin in Saturday’s 2-2 tie with the San Jose Earthquakes.