Union match reports

Match Report: Philadelphia Union 1-1 DC United

Despite being outplayed almost wire to wire, the Union stole a point at RFK as Jack McInerney scored his first goal since June 1.

Unable to cope with the conditions and DC’s first half composure, the Union fell behind when Nick DeLeon hammered home the opener in the 36th minute. United had chances to put the match out of reach but, between the reflexes of Zac MacMath and poor finishing, the hosts were unable to double their advantage.

That set the stage for McInerney, who stole in on the back post to power home his header after Kleberson looped his cross over the helpless defense.

“We were dealing with a lot of changes this week, but we also need to realize that D.C. is a much better team than people realize,” John Hackworth said after the draw. “The expectation that for us we’re going to come in and automatically get three points is unrealistic at this point. But, that said, I don’t think our guys came out and pushed the game the right way in that first half.”

First Half

Following the Union’s last gasp victory against Toronto FC, John Hackworth made three changes to the side. Sebastien Le Toux replaced the suspended Sheanon Williams at right back, with Keon Daniel taking the place of the Union’s other suspended player, Fabinho. Kleberson’s match-winning performance was enough to earn him the start beneath Conor Casey, with Jack McInerney making way for the Brazilian.

DC United was quick to attack the Union’s fill-in right back, but after some early nervous moments, Le Toux slowly began to find his feet, charging forward in the 5th minute.

The Union were unable to find the connections they sought. though, and United slowly grabbed control of the match. Chris Pontius fashioned the first quality chance in the 12th minute when he beat Le Toux. Pontius’ back post cross was meant for Luis Silva, but Ray Gaddis proved too strong and saw off the play.

Next Silva raced to the endline, cutting back for Jared Jeffrey. Michael Farfan was alert to the danger, bodying Jeffrey off the ball to allow Zac MacMath to make a low save before Jeff Parke punted clear.

By the 16th minute, Le Toux could not continue after an early ankle injury and gave way to Matt Kassel.

DC continued to look the most likely to open the scoring and in the 20th minute Silva shot wide after the ball got passed Parke.

Pontius kept the pressure up and easily sliced behind Kassel, but Jeffrey could not bundle the ball over the line when Pontius cut it into the box.

A long cross over the heads of the Union backline found Pontius again in the 34th minute. Cutting inside past Cruz, Pontius had an open look on MacMath from close range, but Amobi Okugo knifed in to get a foot on the low, hard shot.

On the ensuing corner kick, Silva rose highest, flicking Lewis Neal’s header past the far post.

Moments later, DeLeon finally grabbed a well-deserved opener. With Brian Carroll caught out of position and Keon Daniel failing to pinch inside, DeLeon picked up Neal’s pass in open space before turning and driving towards goal. DeLeon let fly from 30 yards and there was little MacMath could do.

The Union nearly hit back immediately through Casey, but Bill Hamid’s double save denied him. Casey rose well to get a head to Kleberson’s soft chip, and when Hamid beat the effort away, Casey chased the ball down, spinning to take a second shot, though the DC goalkeeper was again equal to it.

Conor Doyle was unlucky not to put his side two ahead at the other end when he drilled his shot off the post after a DC United counterattack.

As the half wore down it was end to end stuff. First Kleberson narrowly missed the far post on a free kick from similar range to last weekend’s winner over Toronto. Then, Silva nearly sent his side into the break with a two goal cushion, but he skied his effort in front of goal after Chris Korb had cut the ball in from the touchline.

Second Half

Antoine Hoppenot entered the fray for Daniel after the halftime break as the Union moved to their more tradition, two striker formation.

But it was DC, riding their momentum, that would have the best early chances of the half. Kassel and Gaddis switched flanks for the second 45 and DeLeon quickly exposed the space behind the Union substitute. But the finishing touch continued to be lacking as Silva rolled a weak effort in on MacMath. Next, Doyle was unable to get his shot past Okugo, before DeLeon again raced free past Kassel only to put his cross inches beyond a sliding Pontius.

Stunned by United’s pressure, the Union rarely had a look going forward and Farfan began to slide centrally in order to keep possession. The Union continued to focus almost exclusively on the right flank and they came close to pulling one back in the 67th when Cruz cut to the endline. Sliding the ball in to a charging Casey, Cruz looked on as the big striker smashed his chance well over the bar from close range.

McInerney became the final Union sub in the 73rd minute, pushing Farfan into the backline as the substitute, Kassel, was removed.

DC substitute Kyle Porter nearly settled the match moments later. Exchanging passes with Doyle, Porter blew passed Carroll into the box where MacMath managed to beat away a low shot towards the back post.

MacMath then saved the day again, though with a far less conventional play. Leaving his box to race Doyle for a long ball, the Union keeper lost out, leaving the United attacker streaking into the box. Never giving up on the play, MacMath chased Doyle into his own box before sliding in to hook the ball away. Porter had an open look at the rebound, but he ballooned his chance over the bar.

Quickly pushing the play back to the other end, McInerney had the Union’s best chance to get level in the 83rd minute. With only Hamid to beat, McInerney struck his shot well but looked on in agony as the keeper got a hand to his shot, palming it to safety.

But McInerney would not be denied. Following a cleared corner, Kleberson hooked a second cross into the box. Ghosting in at the back post, the cross cleared both Okugo and his marker and fell cleanly to McInerney, who buried his header inside the back post.

McInerney said after the game of ending his five-month long goal drought, “It’s been tough, you know? And the longer I go, the more frustrating it got. But you have to keep fighting and pushing. I have proven that I can score, so I just needed to keep my head up, and now that I have this one, I just hope that I can get this going.”

With Montreal Impact suddenly in the midst of a free fall and Chicago defeating Dallas on the road, the now sixth place Union head north of the border next Saturday needing three points to keep up in the race for the final playoff spot. They’ll do so without the services of Michael Farfan, whose 79th minute caution will see him suspended for yellow card accumulation.

John Hackworth said after the game, “The one thing Montreal has going for them is that they are at home next week. But we’ve been a good road team. I think coming back in the road here [against D.C. United] was a massive thing. We’ll be at full strength somewhat…and we plan to have our guys rested and ready this week so that we can come out and put on a better performance.”

Philadelphia Union
Zac MacMath; Sebastien Le Toux (Matt Kassel ’16; Jack McInerney ’73), Amobi Okugo, Jeff Parke, Ray Gaddis; Danny Cruz, Brian Carroll, Kleberson, Keon Daniel (Antoine Hoppenot ’46), Michael Farfan; Conor Casey
Unused substitutes: Oka Nikolov, Gilberto, Leo Fernandes, Aaron Wheeler

DC United
Bill Hamid; Dennis Iapichino, Daniel Woolard, Perry Kitchen, Chris Korb; Lewis Neal, Jared Jeffrey, Nick DeLeon (Sainey Nyassi ’70); Luis Silva (Kyle Porter ’67), Chris Pontius, Conor Doyle (Lionard Pajoy ’87)
Unused substitutes: Joe Willis, Collin Martin, Michael Seaton, Conor Shanosky

Scoring Summary
36 – DCU: DeLeon (Neal)
90 – PHI: McInerney (Kleberson)

Discipline Summary
79 – PHI: Farfan (caution)
90 – PHI: McInerney (caution)

Referee: Edvin Jurisevic
Attendance: 11213

D.C. United

Philadelphia Union

17 Attempts on Goal 17
4 Shots on Target 5
8 Shots off Target 8
5 Blocked Shots 4
5 Corner Kicks 5
9 Fouls 6
17 Open Play Crosses 29
3 Offsides 4
0 First Yellow Cards 2
0 Second Yellow Cards 0
0 Red Cards 0
36 Duels Won 41
46% Duels Won % 53%
370 Total Pass 398
77% Passing Accuracy % 75%
47.9% Possession 52.1%


  1. Jack does it again in the final minutes. Amazing what he can do when he gets service. Maybe pulling him off early was a bad idea huh?

    A couple questions on Zac’s Odyssey through the 18 yard box could he have been penalized for denying a goal scoring opportunity? He was clutching and grabbing a lot.

  2. McInerny needs to play every minute of every game. With so few quality players on our roster it makes no sense to keep one of them on the bench

  3. It’s a shame Marfan will miss next game, he’s really been coming on lately and giving us a dangerous option. I’ve been hard on Cruz but he actually played well I thought, offensively, he still didn’t track back on defense.
    Another hapless effort from Keon, he needs to sit. Kleberson doesn’t go for the kill when tackling very often, but he was just so much more creative than what we usually see, and so much more offensive minded.
    Did anyone else thinked Casey and Carroll just look absolutely gassed? Casey’s been running on fumes lately and he has resorted to pulling and pushing most of the time. Carroll is consistently behind or late. Those guys are older and needed some kind of break this year, the problem is what can we do now?
    Really disappointed by Hackworth and his mindset this game. DC will probably win the least amount of games ever, and with the playoffs on the line, we come out with one forward. It didn’t work against KC (and this team is far from KC skill wise), and somehow he thought it would work here.
    The positives from this game are that we at least tied, Zac keeps up his stellar play, Kleberson looked solid, Marfan playing better, and most importantly Jacks goal. With the same old midfield problems, and a gassed Casey, we can only hope Jack will produce another run of good form and take us to the playoffs with him. Well if hack decides to start him.

  4. Richie The Limey says:

    To say that Hack was “making that up as he went along” is giving him too much credit. Now can everyone see that he is well,and truly out of his depth?.
    That must rank as one of the worst selections for a starting 11 and the worst tactical display since I don’t know when. I can’t believe that he gets paid to do that job. It is an insult to every paying fan. Seriously. I would have to go to U11 level before I can find a more impotent and inept coach.

  5. And so the Union’s chances of making the playoffs drop to 22.526647% or something like that. At least we know Kleberson can play, right? Danny Cruz continues to improve. Seba can play right back, sort of. But the BIG story tonight is…we know who will fill in at center back if Okugo or Parke go down. It’s Zac! Nice wheels Zac! Nice tackle! who saw that coming?!?

    • Ed Farnsworth says:

      According to SportsClubStats, the Union’s playoff chances have dropped to 33.7 percent, down from 65.8% after the win over Toronto.

  6. From the sounds of it, I think I’m glad I missed it to go to my high school reunion…

    • nah bro wasn’t that bad, it was at the beginning DC hammering at Le Toux’s side hoping it would crack and it didn’t, then the Union finding some time on the ball, then a goal against the run of play due to very loose defending in the middle, then like almost a whole goddamn hour of the Union trying to crack DC’s defense but not, with scary counterattacking by DC but no finishing skill, then an equalizer, then both sides seemed to just give up.
      Or you could just read the summary above. Actually, it’s much better than mine.

  7. Have to disagree with the comment that they “were outplayed from wire to wire”. In fact, considering that line up was so screwed up, I give the players except Keon a good amount of credit. I’d really like to rant about some things but I’m just happy jack Mac scored and the assist came from Kleberson. That should’ve been happening ALL year, but I’ll go to bed tonight a little bit happier and smug that these 2 guys have gotten a raw deal from the coach and he’s realizing it. Maybe in my dream land tonight the owners will realize their mistakes and bring in a better coach, perhaps Eric wynalda or brad friedel?

    • Watching Jose Kleberson preform the way he has the last two games is raising some questions for me:

      1) Dosen’t Conner Casey tell the coaching staff to put Kleberson in the game? It’s the only time Casey gets consistent service!

      2) is it possible Hack (and or Sack) doesn’t want the fan base to see Kleberson’s quality because they know they cannot afford to bring him back next season? It’s no crime that he does not fit their blueprint, and was a very strategic salary swap. BUT IF HE IS THE BEST DISTRIBUTER WE HAVE (no disrespect to Seba) HE SHOULD HAVE PLAYED ALL YEAR!!!

      It’s really disturbing to me as a loyal fan that Hack wasted Kleberson’s obvious skills. Hopefully he stays in the starting eleven as we’re short handed next week with Marfan DQ’d.

  8. It’s time to end the question of who is the longest tenured coach in Philly. Hackworth has put together a team with no depth on defense. Then he seems to think that the best way for a team to struggle with offense is to play only one striker. He has no clue. Is he aware that goals scored is a tiebreaker and the Union’s lack of goals scored is the reason Chicago is listed above the line and the Union are below it? And then there’s the confidence builder “The expectations that we were going to come in and get three points were unreal.” How can you not go into any game and not expect your team is capable of getting three points? Why bother to show up in that case?

    • +1, that comment irked me the whole article. If you can’t realistically win in dc, how could you win in Montreal? Infuriating!

    • Ed Farnsworth says:

      Chicago is currently above the line because they have one more win than the Union. But if the two teams were level on points and number of wins, the next tiebreaker would be, as you said, goals scored, followed by goal differential. Chicago has four more goals (44) than the Union (40) but a poorer goal differential (-3 for Chicago, 0 for the Union).

      • You beat me to it, Ed.

        The amazing thing is that remember how impotent Chicago was before they got Magee and now they have scored four more than the Union.

    • I think he was misquoted in this. Left out the word “automatically”.. don’t think he meant they weren’t capable of winning, just that it wasn’t a given. Either way, they should have done better.

      from DC’s website: “the expectation that for us we’re going to come in and automatically get three points is unrealistic at this point.”

    • Actually, the reason that Chicago is ahead of us is because they have more wins which is the first tiebreaker. Goals scored is the 2nd one.

    • chicago also has this great centerback named bakary soumare

  9. Philly Cheese says:

    If LeToux had any issues with his plantar fasciitis in warming up, he was selfish in not pulling himself from the match before becoming an injury sub in the 16th minute. Jack Mac would likely have been brought on earlier if Hack didn’t have to protect the last sub slot.

    • I can criticize with the best of them, and find fault with many things that have happened this year, but he was being pressed into service in the umpteenth different position that he has played for this team, knew the lack of depth that was an issue and tried to soldier through. IF there was anybody that could have played that position in back, and IF they were in match shape, I would agree with you, but the “depth” that the Union have on the back line is missing when the patchwork that was tossed out there was planned. Daniel was the sub that shouldn’t have been necessary, not Le2. I thank him for flashing back to the position that he played when he first came to MLS, and for giving it a game try.

  10. phillyhotspur says:

    Hackworth needs to go

    That is all

  11. Carrol needs to go. If we can get rid of Carrol this will give the Union so many opportunities and leeway to figure out a strong midfield. But of course this will never happen with Hack as coach.

    • I’ve asked before, but don’t recall an answer. What’s Carroll’s contract status for next year? He’s gotta be getting close to the end of his deal, doesn’t he?

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