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.
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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.