These games are always special for the Charleston Battery's John Wilson.

It doesn't matter if it's a U.S. Open Cup final match or a game like Wednesday night's Carolina Challenge Cup match. The veteran defender is always eager to play against his former D.C. United teammates.

Maicon Santos, Ryan Richter and Hamdi Salihi scored to lead Major League Soccer's United past the Battery, 3-1, in the second round of the Carolina Challenge Cup before a crowd of 2,634 at Blackbaud Stadium.

The Chicago Fire beat the

Columbus Crew, 1-0, in the night's first game. D.C. United, which beat the Fire, 1-0, Saturday night, clinched the tournament title for the third straight season.

Wilson played for D.C. United for three seasons, making 28 appearances from 2005-07.

"It's always special to play against your former team," Wilson said. "These games are always fun for me. I got to see some familiar faces, guys I played with, and that's always fun. I think anytime you play against your former team, you give it a little extra."

Wilson, 35, wasn't sure he was going to play this season until a couple of weeks ago. The former Clemson All-American has had only a half-dozen training sessions with the Battery. Wilson played the entire first half at left back.

"Obviously, I wish I was a little more fit," Wilson said. "It felt like I'd only been training for a week at times during the first half. I'm not match fit and I was a little rusty. It's going to take me a couple of weeks to get fit, but I still think I have something to offer the young guys."

The Battery had the better of the scoring chances in the opening half, but found themselves trailing, 2-1, after two crucial defensive lapses. The Battery outshot their MLS countparts, 5-2, in the opening 45 minutes.

"You have to defend properly to win games like this," said Charleston Battery coach Mike Anheauser. "We had two mental errors in the back, and both times the ball ended up in the back of our net. It's unfortunate because I felt like we played very well offensively and actually put them under some pressure."

D.C. took a 1-0 lead on Santos' goal just 13 minutes into the match. After what appeared to be a harmless buildup, United midfielder Branko Boskovic found Santos coming down the left flank. Santos took a blast from about 30 yards that overpowered Charleston keeper Kevin Klasila for the score.

The Battery answered 16 minutes later to tie the game at 1 on Jose Cuevas' second goal of the tournament at the 29-minute mark. Charles Romero came down right flank, stepped past a United defender just outside the 18-yard box and served a beautiful ball to Cuevas, who volleyed it past Joe Willis for the goal.

United responded just two minutes later on Ryan Richter's header at the 31-minute mark. Defender Jose Burciaga got into the 18-yard box and served a ball to the back post to a wide-open Richter. Klasila read the play perfectly, sliding to the back post and was in position to make the save, but Richter's header slipped through his fingers into the net for the score.

"The keeper has to make a save and help the guys out," Anhaeuser said.

Charleston was forced to play a man down for the final 15 minutes when defender Mark Wiltse made a sliding tackle into the ankles of United midfielder Danny Cruz. Wiltse was issued a red card and ejected. Cruz was carried off the field by his teammates after the game was over.

United pushed their advantage to 3-1 on a beautiful passing play from Andy Najar to Salihi in the 88th minute.

Chicago 1, Columbus 0

Federico Puppo scored in the 80th minute to lead Chicago past Columbus in the opening match.

Daniel Paladini played the ball up defender Gonzalo Segares on the left flank before sending a cross into the 18-yard box. The deflected cross fell to Puppo, who blasted a shot past Andy Gruenebaum for the score.