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Columbus uses own goal to register 2-1 triumph, first ever at D.C. United.

By Gary Davidson

WASHINGTON, D.C. (Wednesday, May 3, 2000) -- For Tom Fitzgerald, it was one of the prettiest goals heís ever seen. Even if he was facing in the other direction. Despite the fact that it wasnít one of his Columbus Crew players who scored.

Yes, it was D.C. United midfielder Richie Williams who netted the tiebreaker, but unfortunately for the home crowd, it was in his own net and the Crew had its first-ever Major League Soccer victory 2-1 at RFK Stadium before 11,872 fans tonight.

Columbus (3-4-1, 10 points) had gone 0-13 in previous visits to the Nationís Capital. "This is a new experience," said Crew coach Tom Fitzgerald, displaying a cigar he was about to enjoy. ""I donít know what the change was, but it was a tough game. It was a great win for us and difficult loss for D.C. It was pretty even throughout the game. Actually, they probably had more chances, but weíre obviously happy to get the win.

"Itís obviously the prettiest goal I witnessed here. Youíve got to take them any way you can get them. . . We said weíre only going to play here twice this year. Once tonight and the other October 15 (in MLS Cup 2000)."

Fitzgerald actually had his back to the play, talking to his reserves, when Williams tried to push a header Brian McBrideís flick over the crossbar, but instead sent it into the top corner.

"I didnít see our second goal," Fitzgerald explained. " I just knew we had a corner kick and I turned away to tell the substitutes coming in something, I turned back and the ball was in the back of the net. I didnít see, but regardless of how they go in, they all count."

Until the decisive tally, United (1-5-1, 4 points) had dominated the game, holding a two-to-one advantage in possession and attacking readily. United outshot the Crew 15-5, held an 8-2 edge in shots on goal and forced 10 corner kicks to four for the Crew.

"A pretty one-sided affair in all categories." Said United coach Thomas Rongen, whose defending MLS champion has the worst record in the league. "Obviously the only thing that counts is the end result. Itís very simple. To be very blunt: yes, we are in a very tough situation, but Iím extremely encouraged by the way this team played tonight. If this team continued to play the way it did tonight, it will have a lot more victories than losses at the end of the year."

With overtime appearing imminent, Columbus striker took a long throw-in from the right side. At the near post, McBride flicked a header across the front of the goal, where Williams knocked it into the far top corner beyond an outstretched goalkeeper Mark Simpson.

"It was just a quick play. It just hit my head and the next thing I knew, I saw it heading up to the left corner," Williams said. "I was just praying (Simpson) was going to save, it. The thing I was trying to do was head it up because you donít want to head it down."

Midfielder Robert Warzycha put the Crew ahead 1-0 in the 52nd minute, tucking a 22-yard free kick from just right of the arc over the wall and into the right corner.

"It was 19, 20 yards. I tried to hit it hard and over the wall and it went in," Warzycha said, and then with a grin, "The wall was set good, so I didnít go around the wall, I went over it. Youíd have to say it was a lucky shot."

Seven minutes later, United tied it at 1-1 on a set piece. The ball was touched to midfielder Marco Etcheverry sent a pass forward to striker Jaime Moreno near the end line, just wide of the left post. Moreno then lifted a perfect pass to the far post to a charging defender Carey Talley, who easily headed in his goal from four yards.

"It may not be the prettiest but weíll definitely take it," McBride said, "Everybodyís happy. It was a win."

Columbus Crew 2, D.C. United 1

Lineups: D.C. United - Mark Simpson, Geoff Aunger, Carlos Llamosa, Carey Talley, Jeff Agoos, Ben Olsen (John Maessner 81), Richie Williams, Bobby Convey, Marco Etcheverry, Jaime Moreno, Chris Albright. Columbus - Mark Dougherty, Mike Duhaney, Michael Clark, Mario Gori, Todd Yeagley, John Wilmar Perez, Brian West (Miles Joseph 88), Robert Warzycha, John DeBrito (Jeff Cunningham 82), Dante Washington (Matt Chulis 89), Brian McBride.

Columbus - Warzycha (unassisted) 52.
D.C. United - Talley (Moreno, Etcheverry) 59.
Columbus -own goal (Williams) 88.

Total shots: D.C. United 15 (Albright 4), Columbus 4 (McBride 3). Shots on goal:Saves: D.C. United - Simpson 1; Columbus - Dougherty 7. Fouls: D.C. United 14 (Albright 3), Columbus 14 (Warzycha 3, Washington 3, Yeagley 3). Offside: D.C. United 3, Columbus 1. Corner kick: D.C. United 10, Columbus 4. Yellow card cautions: D.C. United - Albright 11; Columbus West 8, Clark 59. Possession percentage: D.C. United 66, Columbus 34.

Referee: Tim Weyland. Referee's assistants: Greg Barkey, Robert Fereday. Attendance: 11,872 at RFK Stadium in Washington, D.C. Weather: Clear, 70 degrees, pleasant.

Gary Davidson is managing editor of SoccerTimes and can be e-mailed at

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