- The Washington Times - Sunday, July 16, 2006

The ball simply bounced in D.C. United’s direction last night in its 3-2 victory against the Columbus Crew.

United extended its unbeaten streak to 13 games — improving to 13-1-5 on the season.

Christian Gomez capitalized in the 16th minute after Crew goalkeeper Noah Palmer allowed a Ben Olsen shot to bounce off his chest. Gomez had passed the ball to Olsen from midfield, but after Olsen’s shot was blocked, Gomez tipped in the rebound for his seventh goal of the season.

United controlled the physical first half, outshooting the Crew 11-3. Nine fouls were called in the half as Olsen and Crew forward Kei Kamara received yellow cards.

But as time expired in the half, Columbus benefited from another deflected ball to tie the game 1-1 and silence the crowd of 20,227 at RFK Stadium in extra time. Crew midfielder Leonard Bisaku’s shot deflected off Bobby Boswell’s back and Kamara was in position to flick the ball over an unsuspecting Troy Perkins.

Although United players appeared dejected after the goal as they entered the locker room, they proved why they have the league’s best record in their second half with an offensive outpouring that improved their homefield dominance to 8-0-1.

In the 49th minute, John Wilson took a shot that bounced off a defender without ever getting near the goal. The ball bounced to Brian Carroll who launched a low, 30-yard shot into the right corner of the goal to give United a 2-1 lead with his first goal of the season.

“It’s a little discouraging playing pretty well in the first half and going in tied at halftime, but we came out strong in the second half,” Carroll said. “The ball just bounced out around the top of the box and I just kept it on frame and it went in.”

Prior to Carroll’s goal, Wilson had just subbed in for Facundo Erpen. Erpen, who left the game with a foot bruise, had not missed a minute of playing time all season. His status was not yet known.

“It doesn’t look good,” United coach Peter Nowak said. “I don’t know what the verdict form our doctors will be, but I asked him in the locker room and he was very pessimistic.”

United also had to play without Alecko Eskandarian, who was serving his one-game suspension for a red card he received in his last meeting with Columbus.

United’s offense, though, has recorded the most goals in the league and was only getting started as Columbus fell victim to another errant bounce in the 64th minute.

A Crew defender slide-tackled the ball away from Gomez, but rather than clearing the zone, the ball went to Olsen. Olsen crossed the goalie’s box with the ball and buried an off-balance shot from the right side of the box into the left corner of the goal to extend the United lead to 3-1.

The eventual game-winner was Olsen’s first goal since returning from the World Cup and his excitement was hard to miss as he immediately sprinted to the sideline and hugged Nowak.

“I was just cruising over to the bench to see my boys,” Olsen said. “It’s always nice to go over to the bench and celebrate with the team.”

United would possess the ball for the majority of the remaining minutes, but in the 72nd minute Crew midfielder Eric Vasquez scored off a Marc Burch pass, cutting the deficit to 3-2.

“We didn’t do a good enough job towards the end as far as keeping the ball or managing the game to limit their chances because they had good chances,” Carroll said. “We found a way to win and that is all that matters.”

The victory was United’s sixth straight and increased its lead in the Eastern Conference to 20 points. It also marked United’s eighth one-goal victory of the season.

“At the end of the game we were pretty nervous because we were pretty disorganized,” Nowak said. “[Columbus] gave us trouble today, so respect and credit to them. I think it is a good win for our team, for our fans and our mentality. But we need to make sure we work on our organization so these types of goals do not happen again.”

But had it not been for the keen eye of the referees, United could have scored more.

Two apparent Freddy Adu goals were called back by the officials. In the 40th minute an offside call negated a goal and in the 55th minute Olsen was ruled out of bounds as he passed the ball to Adu, who then flicked it into the net.

“You could call it either way,” Adu said. “That hurt. That hurt. I was getting all ready to celebrate. But we won the game and that is the most important thing. I am just glad we won.”

Nonetheless, three goals were all United needed as Perkins came up with three saves to hold off the Crew.

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