The Columbus Crew had lots of factors working in their favor Saturday night in pursuit of their elusive first victory.

The Columbus Crew had lots of factors working in their favor Saturday night in pursuit of their elusive first victory.

Spirits were high for the tenth anniversary of Crew Stadium. Kansas City was coming off a Wednesday night match against D.C. United. The Nordecke remained in vociferous full effect even after the ultimate MLS Cup hangover, an 0-2-5 start.

But perhaps the biggest boost en route to the Crew's 3-2 victory over the Wizards was the return of Frankie Hejduk.

"You saw it today," Crew coach Robert Warzycha said after the match. "He brings attitude and leadership. That's what a captain is supposed to bring."

Columbus' engine and emotional center had been missing from the lineup since a season-opening tie at Houston, first due to commitments with the U.S. national team then thanks to a strained right hamstring.

"We had a good week of training, and there was a real positive vibe around the team, and I almost felt before we stepped on the field that we were going to win that game," Hejduk said.

That's the kind of inspiration Hejduk brings to the pitch, and it was infectious for Columbus, a club that had been playing well but failing to hold onto its leads. From his chipper pre-game warmups to his roaring post-game celebration, Hejduk's presence was felt Saturday.

With "Super Frank" in the lineup, the club had its best offensive effort of the season. That includes a bouncing 55th-minute assist Hejduk served up to reigning MVP Guillermo Barros Schelotto, whose contributions to Saturday's win should not be undersold.

"Fortunately Guillermo was there at the back post," Hejduk said. "He's a special player and he knows always where the ball's going to go."

Hejduk chipped in on defense too, of course. Though the Crew showed some residual effects of its early-season choke habit by allowing Kansas City back into the game late, the team buckled down and preserved its advantage for the first time this season.

"It's been a grind," Hejduk said. "At different points in the season, every team goes through grinds. Unfortunately for us, it was those first few games. Now hopefully this win will get us over that hump and we can get the monkey off our back and start fresh again."

What's next for the Crew?

Columbus heads to Hollywood this weekend to face the Los Angeles Galaxy, a similarly tie-stricken club at 1-1-6. The Galaxy has been playing without superstar David Beckham, who remains on loan to A.C. Milan but says he will return in June to finish out the third year of his MLS contract. Watch the match at 3 p.m. Sunday on ONN.

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