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Steve Clark preserves scoreless tie for Columbus Crew in stoppage time

DC United and the Columbus Crew played to a scoreless tie on Saturday evening, although not before Columbus goalkeeper Steve Clark made perhaps the easiest save on a penalty kick in the history of soccer.

Five minutes into stoppage time, on nearly the last play of the game, Fabian Espindola stepped up to take a penalty kick after Bernardo Anor was called for handling the ball in the penalty area. Goalkeeper Steve Clark stood his ground on the shot, and needed only stand still and catch the ball as Espindola softly lobbed it down the center of the goal.

That humiliating episode aside, United were generally the better team throughout the game. They were the first team this season to out-possess the Crew, and also finished with a slight advantage in completed passes.

Columbus fielded a changed lineup as coach Gregg Berhalter continues to deal with absences due to injuries and the World Cup. Michael Parkhurst played on the right side of defense, while the center was held down by Eric Gehrig and Tyson Wahl. Bernardo Anor continued his tenure on the left side.

Despite this shift, the defense proved capable of shutting down the United attack. When the defense began to crack late in the game, Steve Clark made the needed saves - not only on Espindola's penalty but also several minutes earlier when Jared Jeffrey unleashed a low blast that was stopped one-handed by Clark.

After the midweek trade of Dominic Oduro for Alvaro Rey, it was easy to anticipate that Jairo Arrieta would get the start at forward. The Costa Rican received decent service from the midfield, but was also the first player substituted in the 56th minute. Berhalter chose to replace Arrieta with Justin Meram, leaving the Crew without a clear forward until the subsequent introduction of Adam Bedell in the 77th minute.

It was Bedell who had the most dangerous scoring opportunity, in the 83rd minute. Ethan Finlay reached the end line to the right of goal, and passed back to an open Bedell near the penalty spot. The Crew rookie had an uncontested shot at goal, but put the ball too close to Hamid who punched it away to safety.

Doubleheader with Spain vs. El Salvador

Saturday's game was played at FedEx Field outside Washington, DC rather than United's usual home of RFK Stadium. It was the second game of a doubleheader that also featured a friendly between the Spanish and El Salvadoran national teams. The strength of that opening game propelled the attendance to 53,267 - one of the largest crowds for which the Crew have ever played.

Timeline of events

4' Corner kick, DC (left side - headed clear)
36' Corner kick, Columbus (left side - headed clear)
42' Caution, Bobby Boswell (professional foul on Jairo Arrieta)
56' Justin Meram replaces Jairo Arrieta
58' Conor Doyle replaces Eddie Johnson
62' Jared Jeffrey replaces Luis Silva
64' Corner kick, DC (right side - headed shot blocked)
71' Corner kick, Columbus (right side - cleared)
76' Lewis Neal replaces Chris Rolfe
77' Adam Bedell replaces Ben Speas
78' Caution, Christian Fernandez (professional foul on Adam Bedell)
82' Corner kick, DC (left side - cleared)
88' Caution, Justin Meram (reckless tackle on Lewis Neal)
94+ Penalty kick called, Bernardo Anor handball
94+ Caution, Eric Gehrig (dissent)
95+ Penalty kick missed, Fabian Espindola

Lineups

Columbus Crew

Steve Clark, Michael Parkhurst, Tyson Wahl, Eric Gehrig, Bernardo Anor, Tony Tchani, Agustin Viana, Ethan Finlay, Ben Speas (Adam Bedell 77'), Hector Jimenez, Jairo Arrieta (Justin Meram 56')

Unused subs
Matt Lampson, Ben Sweat, Chad Barson, Josh Williams, Dan Paladini

DC United

Bill Hamid, Bobby Boswell, Christian Fernandez, Sean Franklin, Steve Birnbaum, Chris Rolfe (Lewis Neal 76'), Davy Arnaud, Luis Silva (Jared Jeffrey 62'), Nick DeLeon, Eddie Johnson (Conor Doyle 58'), Fabian Espindola

Unused subs
Andrew Dykstra, Taylor Kemp, Kyle Porter