U.S. international notched from the spot and from on the run.
Wanting to exorcise the demons of a doomed 2011 season, D.C. United got off to a quick start against Columbus, creating several chances early on. Josh Wolff found Andy Najar with a cross in the box in the first minute, but the 2010 Rookie of the Year's header was wide of the mark.
Chris Pontius worked a yard of space after a bad turnover in the Columbus half, but Crew 'keeper Will Hesmer pulled off the save, before United captain Dax McCarty fired wide of the target from a cross from by Wolff.
Columbus didn't come just to be spectators, though, and a goal-line clearance in the 15th minute prevented the visitors from taking the lead. Eddie Gaven sent a free kick in from the left flank that found Dejan Rusmir in the box, but his effort was saved off the line by Marc Burch.
From there, United controlled the rest of the half, but failed to create any goals. Wolff had an effort from long range that was saved by Hesmer, and then United debutant Joseph Ngwenya wasted a couple of chances. The best of those came in the 31st minute, with Julius James snuffing out the threat.
Proceedings took a turn for the exciting in the second half, as the game opened up, and the goals starting flowing in. Andres Mendoza nearly opened the scoring in the 50th minute, breaking into the United box after eluding a tackle from Dejan Jakovic. But with just Pat Onstad to beat, Jed Zayner tackled the ball away to end the chance.
Just one minute later, United were on top as Wolff scored his first goal in the Black and Red. A ball was played behind the Crew defense by Zayner; Wolff collected the ball, and finished at the near post, before taking his shirt off and celebrating in the stands.
Following the goal, Charlie Davies was brought on for his United debut, coming on in place of Ngewnya. It only took Davies 10 minutes to get his first goal, converting a penalty in the 62nd minute. Pontius was taken down in the Crew box, and Davies was chosen to take the penalty. He made no mistake, sending Hesmer the wrong way for the 2-0 lead.
The introduction of Robbie Rogers for Dilly Duka changed the fortunes of Columbus, as Rogers made an immediate impact on the game. In the 70th minute, Gaven's corner found Rusmir in the box, but the header from the midfielder hit the post, the second time Rusmir was denied a goal on the night. A minute later, Tommy Heinemann won the header on Gaven's free kick, but Pat Onstad was at full stretch to make the save.
Wolff nearly doubled his tally in the 75th minute, but Hesmer made a one-handed save on the header that kept Columbus within striking distance.
The game was all but decided in the 77th minute, though, when Davies scored his second goal of the night. Burch played a long ball forward, and Chad Marshall slipped, allowing Davies to get the ball, round Hesmer, and finish into the empty net.
Two minutes later, Columbus managed to pull a goal back. Rogers earned a penalty, finishing it himself. Rogers' little dink in the box was adjudged to have been handled by Jakovic, and Rogers sent Onstad the wrong way to bring the score back to 3-1.
Follow Goal.com on to get the latest soccer news directly. Check out Goal.com's page; be part of the best soccer fan community in the world!