*Pontius scores 10th goal, United drop Crew 1-0*
DC UNITED 1, COLUMBUS 0
Pontius’ team-leading 10th goal pushed United (11-7-3) within one win of tying the club record of eight straight home wins, set in 1998. Three of those victories came via the league’s shootout format, which was eliminated after the 1999 season.
Andy Gruenebaum made six saves for the Crew (8-8-4), who failed to build on a two-game win streak for the third time this season. They haven’t won three straight league matches since winning four in a row in May 2010.
United remains in fourth place in the Eastern Conference, while the Crew failed to make up ground on fifth-place Chicago - and the conference’s final playoff spot.
Nick DeLeon set up Pontius’ goal, darting around the right corner of the defense and evading two defenders before driving in a low cross. Long Tan reached it, Gruenebaum dove to block Tan’s backheel effort, and Pontius drove in a rebound from close range.
Pontius nearly scored his 11th nine minutes later when he struck a strong effort from just inside the penalty area and forced Gruenebaum into a reflex save. Later, he appeared to have another clear look on goal, only to blast DeLeon’s cross well high.
The Crew increased pressure on United’s goal inside the final 15 minutes, but it rarely translated into clear opportunities.
D.C.’s Bill Hamid needed to make just three saves, none of which was difficult.
Pontius has now scored in four of United’s last six games, with all 10 of his strikes coming since playing in his first full match of the year against New York on April 22.
He was used primarily as a substitute for United’s first six matches after breaking a tibia toward the end of the 2011 season.