D.C. United came into Wednesday's visit to the Columbus Crew having not won in Ohio's capital since 2007. That streak of 11 games without a win ended finally ended at MAPFRE Stadium, with Wayne Rooney's first-half free kick providing the difference in a 1-0 win for the Black-and-Red.
Coming off the disappointment of Sunday's 2-0 loss to New York City FC, United not only picked up their first win in Columbus since 2007 but also ran their winning streak on the road in 2019 to three games. A year after having only picked up 10 points in 17 road games, the Black-and-Red have matched that tally in 2019 with 10 points from their first four road fixtures.
With options limited once again because of injuries, Ben Olsen once again opted for the 3-4-2-1 formation that he used against the Colorado Rapids. Donovan Pines was inserted back into the lineup alongside Steven Birnbaum and Frederic Brillant. With Russell Canouse still out injured, Chris Durkin retained his starting spot for the third consecutive game.
The game got off to a slow start between two teams that played during the weekend and faced another game this upcoming weekend. A turnover from the Crew help guide D.C. towards goal in the ninth minute, but a shot from Lucas Rodriguez was claimed easily by Zack Steffen.
In the 18th minute, Pedro Santos found Hector Jimenez in the box after an under-lapping run from the defender. Jimenez's cross was blocked by Hamid, though Brillant inadvertently sent the ball back towards his own goal, with Hamid grabbing the ball before it crossed the line.
United have had recent issues scoring at home, but a free kick from Rooney in the 27th minute gave the visitors the lead. After Paul Arriola won a free kick just outside of the box, and Birnbaum and Leonardo Jara put themselves at the end of the Crew wall, the pair got out of the way in time as Rooney's effort zipped past the way and beyond Steffen, who was late in seeing the shot.
United had several chances in the rest of the half through numerous corner kicks, but could not add to their lead. In the 34th minute, Jonathan Mensah had a timely intervention, preventing Birnbaum's header back into the middle from finding Brillant.
Columbus, who had won eight of the previous 11 games between the two at MAPFRE Stadium, came close twice to equalizing in the first half. The first, from Justin Meram, was cleared off the line by Durkin before Hamid made an excellent save on a Federico Higuain rocket in the 39th minute.
After a great play from Rodriguez and Luciano Acosta, Rooney found himself in Columbus' half with just Mensah and Steffen in front of him in the last minute of the half. Rooney tried to wait for help while making his way towards goal but elected to shoot from the top of the box, with Mensah blocking the shot out for a corner.
United's blueprint for their previous two wins on the road was to sit back in the second half and absorb pressure, and the strategy was no different on Wednesday night. For most of the final 45 minutes, it was one-way traffic favoring the Crew.
Meram made his way into the box in the 54th minute and got towards the end line. The winger sent a dangerous ball into the middle of the box, but Hamid got his leg to the effort, deflecting the ball away from trouble.
Santos, who scored in the weekend loss to Portland, came close to earning the Crew an equalizer twice in quick succession. The first, a cross from the right, skipped under Hamid but just missed the streaking Meram at the far post. Santos then latched onto a ball from Jimenez in the box in the 69th minute but sent a tame shot at Hamid.
Rooney, who scored his team-leading fifth goal of the season in the first half, conceded a free kick in just about the same spot in the 76th minute. Higuain, who has scored plenty of goals against United over the years, lined up the set piece but curled his shot just over the frame of the goal.
The Crew brought on Robinho and Patrick Mullins looking for an equalizer, while United countered with Ulises Segura and Jalen Robinson late on. The ball stayed in United's end for most of the dying moments, but the Black-and-Red successfully defended their box.
Arriola had a chance to make it 2-0, but when Steffen denied his USA teammate late on, the final whistle ended the game, handing United their first win in Columbus since August 18, 2007.