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The goal that broke D.C. United’s playoff drought – and eliminated Columbus

Colombus Crew v D.C. United

WASHINGTON, DC - OCTOBER 20: Chris Pontius #13 of D.C. United celebrates with teammates against the Columbus Crew at RFK Stadium on October 20, 2012 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Ned Dishman/Getty Images)

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With Columbus pushing forward, pressing desperately for a goal that would keep its fading post-season hopes alive, D.C. United broke away at the other end for one that matters. A lot.

A tie would have done for D.C. United, but one more would seal the deal and then some. Sure enough, unheralded reservist Lewis Neal broke forward and found Branko Boskovic’s smart, perfectly weighted little pass, pushing the shot calmly into Crew goal in the 91st minute.

With that, D.C. United prevailed by a 3-1 score and secured its first playoff spot since 2007.

That’s quite a long time for a club that prides itself on historic success, even if there has not been much of it lately.

Meanwhile, it looked like an uphill climb for Columbus. And it was. The loss at RFK Stadium, combined with Houston’s win in Texas, has left the Crew on the sidelines for the post-season.

Here is Neal’s goal, which also moved United into second place in the tightly packed East.