D.C. United beat Columbus 3-1; goals from Davies and Wolff

The worst team in the league last year opened its season with a 3-1 win over the Columbus Crew at RFK Stadium. Photo: Courtesy of U.S. Soccer

Washington, March 19, 2011—Finally things are going right for D.C. United and its new striker Charlie Davies.

The worst team in the league last year opened its season with a 3-1 win over the Columbus Crew at RFK Stadium before a crowd of 18,132 on Saturday with Davies scoring two goals. It was a sweet moment for Davies who was playing in his first competitive game since suffering serious injuries in a car crash in Oct. 2009.

“He was great tonight,” said United coach Ben Olsen said concerning Davies. “His speed is real and it changes the game. I’m really proud of him, but putting Charlie aside, this was a team effort. Every guy in the locker room is exhausted. They worked their tails off. We had some early season moments where we could have been punished but we deserved the win.”

Striker Josh Wolff, clearly the player of the game, opened the scoring for United on his debut, while Davies earned his brace from a penalty kick and a fine solo effort. If there was any indication that Davies had been slowed by his life threatening injuries, it didn’t show in the time he was on the field after coming off the bench in the 52nd minute.
After opening the home-campaign with three losses last season, new head coach Ben Olsen has the club getting off to an ideal start.

Olsen started his two new strikers: Joseph Ngwenya and Wolff and left Davies on the bench. The club’s high-paid designated player, midfielder Branko Boskovic, was also left on the bench and saw no action. Overall, six United players made their debuts.

Rookie defender Perry Kitchen, the club’s top draft pick, started in the center of the back line. Chris Pontius, who was back on the left flank after missing numerous games due to injury last year, had a decent shot in the 7th minute, but it was easily dealt with by Crew goalie Will Hesmer.

United’s new captain, Dax McCarty, had a chance to give his team the lead in his debut game. Wolff set him up with a great pass after from the right flank, but McCarty’s shot went wide.

Wolff then hit a blistering shot at the Crew goal, but it went straight into the arms of Hesmer. The 34-year-old was certainly looking lively in the early going. Marc Burch, United’s left-back, played a perfect ball into the box on the 32-minute mark. All it needed was touch, but Ngwenya and Wolff failed to reach the low cross. Ngwenya then wasted a shot, hitting it too high.

Five minutes into the second period, United got the go-ahead goal, which deservedly came from Wolff. The veteran striker beat out defender Rich Balchan to a high ball played forward by Jed Zayner. Wolff ran into the box and from 12 yards out placed the ball with the outside of his right foot into the net to Hesmer’s left. Wolff immediately tore off his shirt and celebrated his 76th career-goal by jumping into the arms of the United fans in the Barra Brava section, which earned him a yellow card.

“It looks good for a man of his age,” said Olsen concerning Wolff’s goal celebration. “When you get a new start you want to prove yourself.”

Olsen then sent on Davies to replace the Ngwenya. In the 63nd minute, United extended the lead when Davies converted a penalty kick after Pontius was fouled by Dejan Rusmir.

The Crew tried to get back in the game but United goalie Pat Onstad came up with three key saves.

Wolff came close to earning a second goal from a header but Hesmer did well to save it.
Davies then notched his second goal in the 77th minute. It was a typical Davies goal, where instinct and speed was vital. Davies beat Chad Marshal to a ball played by Burch on the left flank and cut into the box to beat Hesmer with a low shot.

The Crew won a penalty kick after a Dejan Jakovic handled the ball. Robbie Rodgers converted the kick to make it 3-1.

After scoring just 21 goals all last season, this was impressive stuff from the United players.

See other articles by John Haydon at Haydon’s Soccer and Sports Pitch.

KB 3/21

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John Haydon

John Haydon has covered soccer for The Washington Times for two decades. He has reported on international soccer events in Germany, South Korea and Spain. John hails from Birmingham, England and has lived in the Washington D.C. region for over twenty years.  

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