Looking to end their 200′ scoreless streak on what was finally a beautiful April afternoon, the Philadelphia Union (1-3-2, 5 Pts, 10th Place Eastern Conference) hosted DC United (1-3-2, 5 Pts, 9th Place by virtue of a one goal differential).
They would do that and more, much to the delight of the 16,493 Blue and Gold clad fans, as they rallied more than once to win the match 3-2 to move up to 8th place in the East.
United Starting XI: 4-1-4-1
G: Steve Clark ; Ds: Frederic Brillant, Steve Birnbaum, Joseph Mora, Chris Durkin, Nick DeLeon MFs: Ulises Segura, Zoltan Stieber, Luciano Acosta, Yamil Asad F: Patrick Mullins
Union Starting XI: 4-2-3-1
G Andre Blake; Ds Raymon Gaddis, Auston Trusty, Jack Elliott, Keegan Rosenberry; MFs Alejandro Bedoya, Haris Medunjanin, David Accam, Borek Dockal, Ilsinho; F CJ Sapong
This one looked like it was going to be a rerun of so many Union matches we have seen where they own the 1st half – Shots 14-1, 2-1 on target, 65.3 – 34.7 TOP, etc. but once again losing where it counts. But there would be a slight twist late.
United scored first on easy chip past Blake, after a defensive lapse. Zoltan Stieber with assists from Acosta and Asad 7′ .This came less than a minute after Sapong failed to shoot when he had a clear path at the net, and then a footer by Docal went over the bar. He and Sapong would both make up for that later.
That was DC’s first goal in Chester in 451′ dating back to 5/10/14.
The scoreless drought for the U kept on growing though to 237′
That was when a blast by Ilsinho went off a United defender’s leg and past DC GK Clark. Most of the press assumed it to be an OG, but the scorer credited it to Ilsinho based on how hard it was hit, with an assist to Rosenberry. It was Ilson Jr’s first of the season, and was also Keegan’s first A.
The half would end knotted at one.
The second 45 was more of the same as far as Union dominance of play, but this frame turned into a scoring spree with the U managing to outdo DC by one
A prettty Tic-Tac-Toe play led to the initial go ahead DOOP on a header by Sapong (2), with the tic and tac provided by Bedoya and Medunjanin in 60′
10′ later, only 2′ after being subbed in Darren Mattocks would tie the game up again.
But the Union must be watching the Phillies, who have shown the ability to bounce back again and again this season, as only 2′ later Borek Dockal’s first MLS goal would put the Union back in front for good.
There was the typical frenetic play as the clock ticked down, but the Union with some great defending in front of Blake, held on the last 18′ +3′, for the 3-2 decision.
Darren Mattocks for Mullins and Bruno Miranda for Costa 68′
Oneil Fisher for Asad 83′
Fafa Picault for Ilsinho 68′
Cory BurkeFor Accam 82′
Warren Creavalle for Dockal 88′
Yamil Asad 26′
Austin Trusty 44′
Jack Elliot 66′
While the team seemed to make even more plays than usual in the offensive end, they still had a hard time finishing – 21 shots – only 7 on target. Head Coach Jim Curtin addressed this on the last question of the post game presser.
“It seems like almost 25 yds and in we put together as many passes as I have seen us, which is good because you are making the defense move, but their is still that incisiveness that you need to really break down a defense. It takes a perfect play. Scoring goals is difficult. You do see a little better connection now. It’s been fun to watch them, but at the same time it does need to be that pull the trigger.”
You can’t say this is an inferior opponent, but being one on the same level, hopefully the Union can build on this momentum of a gutty three points against a team technically ahead of them in the standings at the time.
The Union play the first of three away matches at Toronto FC (1-4-1, 4 Pts, Last Place) on Friday May 4th at 8:00 PM on WPHL17. This is one of those grueling stretches, as they are all played within 9 days – Wed 5/6 @ Columbus Crew FC and Sat. 5/12 @ Montreal Impact -and as early as it is, could go a long way to showing how this team will fare in 2018.