Luciano Emilio scored in the first half and D.C. United kept its MLS playoff hopes alive with a 1-0 home victory over the Columbus Crew on Saturday night.
Steve Cronin earned a shutout in his first start for United (9-8-12), which pulled into a tie with Toronto, FC Dallas and New England for the eighth and final playoff spot with 39 points.
Columbus (13-6-10), which saw Emilio Renteria red-carded for a late foul on D.C.’s Julius James, still remains in the best position to claim the MLS Supporters’ Shield for the best regular-season finish.
United took the lead in the 17th minute after Emilio took Thabiso Khumalo’s diagonal pass and chipped it over charging goalkeeper William Hesmer. Columbus’ Danny O’Rourke attempted a sliding clearance off the goal line, but the referee’s assistant ruled the ball had already crossed it.
Cronin, acquired on loan from the USL’s Portland Timbers on Monday, then went to work, denying Robbie Rogers’ half volley with a sprawling save in the 37th minute, and smothering Eddie Gaven’s close-range header minutes later.
At Toronto FC 1, Real Salt Lake 0: Jim Brennan scored his second goal of the season in the 47th minute for Toronto, and goalkeeper Brian Edwards earned his first shutout.
Toronto improved to 10-10-9, while Real Salt Lake dropped to 10-12-7.
At FC Dallas 2, Rapids 1: Defender Ugo Ihemelu scored in the 66th minute and FC Dallas beat Colorado to keep its playoff hopes alive.
With its fifth win in six games, Dallas (11-12-6) tied Toronto, New England and DC United for the final playoff spot in MLS. Colorado (10-9-10) remained in playoff position, but is 0-2-4 in its last six and 0-5-4 on the road since May 30.
At Revolution 0, Fire 0: New England lost control of its playoff fate and Chicago blew a chance to clinch a postseason berth.
While Chicago (10-7-12) remained second in the Eastern Conference, New England (10-10-9) fell into a tie for the eighth and final playoff spot.
At Chivas USA 2, Earthquakes 2: Chivas USA moved into sole possession of first place in the Western Conference, tying San Jose on Justin Braun’s goal in the 66th minute.
Chivas (13-9-6) has 45 points, one more than playoff-bound Los Angeles, Houston and Seattle.