On a night that went from beautiful to ugly in the course of 90 minutes, the Crew's season went from middling to on-track in the same span. Bolstered by Ezra Hendrickson's first goal of the season, Columbus outlasted DC United-and a 24-minute rain delay late in the match-to secure its first victory of the season.

In a previous entry, I suggested that the team needed to find the right balance in order to break out of its run of draws. Whenever they improved on offense, they bumbled on defense. This week, they tipped the scales just enough, eeking out the 1-0 victory. It's hard to be disappointed with three points at home, but it's also fair to say that the team should have won by two or three goals. Particularly disconcerting was substitute midfielder Stefani Miglioranzi, who, among other mistakes, wasted one of those gift-wrapped scoring opportunities soccer fans sometimes call "sitters." The miss was indicative of an offense that continues to create chances but still doesn't quite have it together. The Crew might be able to get by on one goal per game if the defense keeps playing like this, though.

Oh, the defense. Marcos Gonzalez, Hendrickson, Frankie Hejduk and Rusty Pierce have helped goalkeeper Andy Gruenebaum record three shutouts in four starts. They've been putting on a true lockdown performance. The mere two goals they've allowed in four games were surprise strikes against the run of play. And this game was perhaps the best of the season so far. Even Pierce, who probably qualifies as the weak link of the bunch, was pulling his weight in this match, racing back to sweep the ball off the feet of opposing attackers and frustrating some of the league's finest offensive players. Add in solid contributions from midfielders such as Danny O'Rourke and the offensive-minded Joseph Ngwenya, and you've got an imposing human fortress on your hands.

If the Crew continues to miss wide-open shots like Miglioranzi's, they're going to need such a fortress.

On to the weekly awards:

On a night that went from beautiful to ugly in the course of 90 minutes, the Crew's season went from middling to on-track in the same span. Bolstered by Ezra Hendrickson's first goal of the season, Columbus outlasted DC United—and a 24-minute rain delay late in the match—to secure its first victory of the season.

In a previous entry, I suggested that the team needed to find the right balance in order to break out of its run of draws. Whenever they improved on offense, they bumbled on defense. This week, they tipped the scales just enough, eeking out the 1-0 victory. It's hard to be disappointed with three points at home, but it's also fair to say that the team should have won by two or three goals. Particularly disconcerting was substitute midfielder Stefani Miglioranzi, who, among other mistakes, wasted one of those gift-wrapped scoring opportunities soccer fans sometimes call "sitters." The miss was indicative of an offense that continues to create chances but still doesn't quite have it together. The Crew might be able to get by on one goal per game if the defense keeps playing like this, though.

Oh, the defense. Marcos Gonzalez, Hendrickson, Frankie Hejduk and Rusty Pierce have helped goalkeeper Andy Gruenebaum record three shutouts in four starts. They've been putting on a true lockdown performance. The mere two goals they've allowed in four games were surprise strikes against the run of play. And this game was perhaps the best of the season so far. Even Pierce, who probably qualifies as the weak link of the bunch, was pulling his weight in this match, racing back to sweep the ball off the feet of opposing attackers and frustrating some of the league's finest offensive players. Add in solid contributions from midfielders such as Danny O'Rourke and the offensive-minded Joseph Ngwenya, and you've got an imposing human fortress on your hands.

If the Crew continues to miss wide-open shots like Miglioranzi's, they're going to need such a fortress.

On to the weekly awards:

Man of the Match: Any one of the starting defenders could get this one, but Hendrickson scored a goal too, so let's give it to him.

Most disappointing: I could go with Eddie Gaven for his ridiculously bad shooting, but I think it has to be Miglioranzi.

Most formidable foe: I struggle to think of a DC player that wasn't neutralized by the Crew. MLS legend Jaime Moreno had a good run in there, but even he was a non-factor.

Least surprising: DC's volatile fan club Barra Brava showed up en masse, as usual, extending the spirit of competition to the stands.

Most surprising: A Crew fan allegedly pulled an unloaded gun on DC supporters after the match. Whoever (allegedly) did this ought to never come back. That's not an element of the world's game that anyone wants in American soccer.

Toss-up: Schizo Ohio weather. WTF?