The Philadelphia Union’s playoff prospects are looking good as they take three road points against D.C. United at brand new Audi Field.
Union starting XI: Blake; Gaddis, Trusty, Elliott, Rosenberry; Bedoya, Medujanin (Jones 83′); Picault, Dockal (Creavalle 90′), Sapong, Burke (Ilsinho 72′)
DC starting XI: Hamid; Mora, Birnbaum, Opare (Brillant 68′), Fisher (Segura HT); Moreno, Canouse (Mattocks 64′); Stieber, Acosta, Arriola; Rooney
Thinking that if ain’t broke, don’t fix it, Jim Curtin opted to go with the same starting lineup he used last match. For D.C. United, new superstar Wayne Rooney was up front, but regular winger Yasil Asad was not, after tweaking his ankle.
It didn’t take long for Rooney to show the form that made him the all-time scorer for the English national team, as he found space in the box by stopping his run as Auston Trusty kept going — but his shot hit the bottom of the post. Rooney had another chance a few minutes later, when he took a slow-moving chip shot that just went wide.
DC United were looking dangerous until the 29th minute, when C.J. Sapong scored a goal to give the boys in blue the lead. Cory Burke took a shot that was stopped by goalkeeper Bill Hamid, but then the ball bounced off Hamid, and Sapong was there to boot the ball in from close range.
The Union were looking stronger after that, but D.C. United was still getting chances. The Union dodged a bullet in the dying minutes of the half when Jack Elliott’s arm hit the ball. Despite that Elliott’s arm was going forward, referee Nima Saghafi did not call it, and there was no video review. The half ended with the Union enjoying a 1-0 lead.
The Union came out in the second half with confidence. They controlled the run of play, and finally got the insurance goal in the 61st minute. Sapong received the ball from Borek Dockal, and passed from the right side of the box into the center, where Fafa Picault knocked it in for the 2-0 lead.
The Union controlled possession for the rest of the match. When D.C. United did get into the box, the Union defense swarmed in around them. Rooney tried to take matters into his own hands (or feet, I should say), but he couldn’t get a clean shot off whenever he had a chance.
The Union are in a good place right now. They won’t get a lot of time to to enjoy this as they will hit the road again to take on last-place Orlando City SC. Hard to believe, but we’ve gotten to the point where we should expect the Union to get another three road points. Doop!
- It might be a brand new stadium, but the groundskeepers there need to work on the drainage of the field. There were big puddles on the pitch after pre-game watering which slowed down the ball considerably.
- If you include their win over Chicago in the US Open Cup semi-final, the Union are now riding a five-game winning streak. I had to check that several times over as it is so not Union. They are now just one point out of fourth place in the Eastern Conference. Dare we even think about catching up to NYCFC for third place?
- The Union have won three of the last four away matches. A considerable improvement for a team that struggled on the road all last season and the first half of this season.
- When Burke starts, Burke scores. That’s what it seemed like when he took over the starting striker job. But not always, as he didn’t manage to do that in this match. He’ll get another chance on Saturday against the Lions.