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USOC match report: Philadelphia Union 2-1 DC United

Photo: Paul Rudderow

Despite playing down a man for over an hour, Philadelphia Union came from behind to gut out an impressive 2-1 victory over DC United in US Open Cup play Tuesday night. When Jairo Arrieta opened the scoring minutes after referee Fotis Bazakos controversially sent off the Union’s in-form striker, CJ Sapong, DC looked destined for the victory.

But a second surge saw first Eric Ayuk and then Fabinho rippling the back of the net. With the win, the Union move on to the quarterfinal round where they will face the winner of New York Red Bulls and New York Cosmos.

First Half

Despite running out his squad for the four match in fifteen days, Jim Curtin only made three substitutions. John McCarthy, Sheanon Williams and Andrew Wenger replaced Brian Sylvestre (cup-tied), Fabinho and Zach Pfeffer, respectively.

The Union nearly got out to the ideal start when Cristian Maidana was released behind the defense in the second minute. The midfielder, who is no speed demon, was caught from behind and unable to find the space for a shot.

DC’s largely replacement eleven was lacking in chemistry and Richie Marquez nearly took advantage in the 7th minute as he snuck into the box for a free header. Eric Ayuk whipped a recycled ball into a dangerous area, but Marquez was unable to turn it on frame, despite a complete lack of defending from DC.

In the 15th minute, referee Fotis Bazakos was forced to suspend play as severe weather and lightning moved in.

Once the teams were able to resume play nearly an hour later, DC was the first to gain the momentum. Miguel Aguilar was able to wriggle through the Union defense in the 18th minute, but the rookie hammered his shot over the bar with only McCarthy to beat.

In the 23rd minute, McCarthy had to react quickly when a flicked free kick had him scrambling. Fortunately for the young goalie, he was able to get enough of a hand on the ball to push it onto the post, allowing Marquez to hack clear.

After Maidana picked up the match’s first caution, an emboldened Bazakos stepped into the spotlight, inexplicably sending off CJ Sapong in the 24th minute. The referee incorrectly ruled that Sapong had thrown an elbow into Kofi Opare’s jaw as the two players rose for an aerial challenge.

Minutes later DC made the most of their man advantage through Jairo Arrieta. With Aguilar slicing up his wing, Edu engaged with Jared Jeffrey at the near post. But the ball rolled past the tangled pair, and Arrieta was left alone to smash home the opener.

The fouls continued to mount with Steve Birnbaum (foul) going into the book.

Andrew Wenger had an opportunity on an odd man rush in the 37th, but Birnbaum closed him down before the Union winger could release Ayuk in on goal.

The two players switched roles minutes later, as Andrew Dykstra failed to hold Ayuk’s shot and Wenger lost his footing trying to prod the ball into the empty net.

Second Half

Minutes into the second half, Ayuk, as he had done throughout the first half, found a yard of space against Luke Mishu and sent a ball into the box for a streaking Wenger. With the goal begging, Wenger failed to strike the ball cleanly, clipping it off both posts and out as Dykstra looking on helplessly.

But in the 56th minute, the Union finally found their breakthrough when Maidana sent a curving ball over the top of the DC defense. Racing in behind from his left back berth, Sheanon Williams took the ball down off his chest before squaring across the box for an unmarked Ayuk to lash home the equalizer.

Maidana nearly grabbed another assist minutes later as the Union looked to storm into the lead. This time it was Ayuk who played the Argentinian in behind. The playmaker found Wenger, who was unable to sort out his feet in the box and hooked his shot wide of the mark.

DC looked to regain momentum in the 69th minute when Jared Jeffrey found space behind Brian Carroll and Vincent Nogueira and put his shot just wide. Moments later, Mishu found Arrieta in the box, but the striker couldn’t get any power behind his spinning shot and McCarthy pushed it aside.

Just when it looked like DC might have played their way back into the ascendancy, the Union snatched their second of the night through Fabinho, who had come on to replace Wenger in midfield. Exchanging passes with Maidana, the Brazilian got behind Jalen Robinson and launched an unstoppable drive into the roof of Dykstra’s net from the tightest of angles.

Having improbably come from behind, the Union sat back to finish out the match, though Markus Halsti nearly grabbed the equalizer in the 83rd minute. Ray Gaddis was unable to steer his clearing header wide and Halsti latched onto the ball with a looping volley. Fortunately for the home side, it clipped the top of the cross bar and flew harmlessly out of play.

With no match this upcoming holiday weekend, the Union rest until Portland Timbers come to PPL Park in league play on July 11.

Philadelphia Union
John McCarthy; Ray Gaddis, Richie Marquez, Maurice Edu, Sheanon Williams; Brian Carroll, Vincent Nogueira; Eric Ayuk, Cristian Maidana (Zach Pfeffer ’80), Andrew Wenger (Fabinho ’67); CJ Sapong
Unused Subs: Andre Blake, Ethan White, Antoine Hoppenot, Fred, Jimmy McLaughlin

DC United
Andrew Dykstra; Luke Mishu, Kofi Opare, Steve Birnbaum; Jalen Robinson; Conor Doyle, Markus Halsti, Jared Jeffrey (Chris Rolfe ’83), Miguel Aguilar; Jairo Arrieta, Facundo Coria (Luis Silva ’84)
Unused Subs: Travis Worra, Taylor Kemp, Chris Korb, Perry Kitchen

Scoring Summary
DCU: Jairo Arrieta (Jared Jeffrey, Miguel Aguilar) – 27
PHI: Eric Ayuk (Sheanon Williams, Chaco Maidana) — 55
PHI: Fabinho (Chaco Maidana)— 79

Disciplinary Summary
DCU: Jared Jeffrey (foul) — 23
PHI: CJ Sapong (ejection – serious foul) — 24
PHI: Chaco Maidana (dissent) — 28
DCU: Steve Birnbaum (foul) — 30
DCU: Steve Mishu — 37
DCU: Conor Doyle — 84

Philadelphia Union DC United
11 Shots 14
5 Shots on Target 6
4 Shots off Target 7
2 Blocked Shots 1
 5 Corner Kicks 4
 17 Crosses  22
 5 Offsides 0
 8 Fouls 20
1 Yellow Cards 4
1 Red Cards  0
 411 Total Passes 464
 82% Passing Accuracy 83%
 47.2% Possession  52.8%
 49 Duels Won 46
 53% Duels Won %  47%
12 Tackles Won  14
5 Saves 3
18 Clearances 16


  1. Great One says:

    Nice tough performance to gut out a win. A couple things made clear after that game.
    1. Many players were on oxygen by the end, a rest is sorely needed.
    2. Williams needs to start, on the right, period.
    3. Fabinho needs to start.
    4. Wenger is done, end it for now Jim.
    5. Winger help is priority number 1 and 2 for the transfer window.
    6. The Union have a great fan base, who deserve better.
    7. My comments are ill thought out and lack all the information.

    • Lazlo Hollyfeld says:

      Union fanbase is great, as is this website.
      Is there any third party MLS team website as good as this one? I doubt it.

      Really enjoyed trolling some Atlanta United-err DC United fans on the Youtube chat during the game stream!

    • The fullback question is an interesting one. I like how Jim is rotating them. “Play the two in form” seems like a good starting point, but you have to start Gaddis when the other team is throwing a speedy winger out there.

      It’s a good problem to have. I feel comfortable with any combination of them out there and they each being a different skill set.

    • The fullback question is an interesting one. I like how Jim is rotating them. “Play the two in form” seems like a good starting point, but you have to start Gaddis when the other team is throwing a speedy winger out there.

      It’s a good problem to have. I feel comfortable with any combination of them out there and they each being a different skill set.

  2. Andy Muenz says:

    Strong game by the Union considering they played most of the game down a man. Good subs by Curtin. I suggested this several weeks ago, but the way Fabhino is playing, Curtin should seriously consider starting him in midfield instead of Wenger (or instead of Ayuk against Portland when Ayuk is suspended).
    Unfortunately, it will be a tough game against whichever NY team they play given that Sapong will be out. Someone needs to put a copy of the rule book in that ref’s stocking. He was just awful.
    Every time I watch Marquez, I’m more impressed with his defense.
    It really isn’t an Open Cup game without a weather delay.

  3. Old Soccer Coach says:

    For Philadelphia, Zachary Pfeffer subbed on for Maidana right after his assist to Fabinho for the game winner.
    FoR DC Rolfe and Silva subbed on after Fabinho’s goal, not immediately and not simultaneously.
    There is a replay available at the top of the article on the MLS website with something about ten man Union and Ayuk in the headline. THe red card is after the 25th minute by the replay’s clock. Sapong held his elbow out and it struck Birnbaum on the upper chest on the upper sternum. Fotis Bazakos was completely, totally, wholely and entirely deserving of the Sons of Ben chant, “I’m blind, I’m deaf, I wanna be a ref.” he deserves immediate relegation to the league below PDL. HE’s lucky he wasn’t water ballooned or worse at half time. The restraint of the SoBs is noteworthy.
    Marquez’s slide tackle in the box of the ball away from Aguilar, a player who had a pace advantage against him, is an incident worthy of positive comment.
    Think about the Chaco Maidana we saw last year, and the Chaco we have seen in the last few games. He has improved his game significantly.
    C’mon Cosmos, beat Pink Heiffers so we might get another home game. I am virtually certain we do not if Pinkies win.

    • Andy Muenz says:

      Union will be on the road in the quarterfinals regardless of who they play. If they win in the quarterfinals, they are at home in the semis. (Finals home team is yet to be determined.)

      • The Cosmos announced yesterday they would relinquish the home field if they win.

      • If the Cosmos win tonight, would Leo Fernandes be available to play against the Union, or is there some sort of loan deal stipulation that prevents that?

      • No, Fernandes is cup-tied to the Cosmos for the remainder of this year’s Open Cup, just like Sylvestre is cup-tied to Carolina and cannot play for the Union in this year’s Open Cup.

      • John Ling says:

        He asked if Fernandes could play against the Union, not for.

      • I think in most loan deals the team that actually holds the player’s rights can stop that player from playing against them

  4. Atomic Spartan says:

    You know you’re a bad ref if:
    The team that wins still thinks the officiating was hideous…
    You knee-jerk red card a player in an adrenaline rush on a play where there wasn’t even a foul…
    You call two entirely different halves and suck in both of them…
    Your name is Fotis Bazakos.
    Where on earth does USOC find these guys?

    • Wikipedia as of 7/1/15, 9:45 AM EST:

      Fotis Bazakos (born August 3, 1979), is an American soccer referee, and without a shadow of a doubt, the worst one employed by the USSF.

  5. Some guy says:

    That ref was an embarrassment.

    • Not even the pixelated feed from youtube could hide the fact the Ref. made a horrible call. It was also nice to see him giving Maidana shit after he gave him a yellow. Once again MLS being the top league they are, I’m sure they will quickly discipline this wayward Ref. What a joke.

      • Andy Muenz says:

        US Open Cup is run by US Soccer rather than MLS so this was not an MLS ref. The league has no jurisdiction of this game.

      • fotis bazakos has definitely officiated mls games in the past. i don’t remember seeing him yet this year but we’ve definitely seen him in the past

      • Yeah, he has definitely been a MLS Ref. And he was just as bad.

    • That footie-ball nonsense is an embassassment.

  6. Fucking Fabinho
    …and the Fucking Catalina Wine Mixer.

    • If you watch anything … watch Wenger hit both posts in the 50th minute. Not a post and crossbar … both posts. I’ve never seen a player with such a string of dumb luck.

      • John Ling says:

        I actually felt bad for Wenger in that singular moment. He did everything right – except put his shot two more inches to the right, which would’ve made it carom off the post and go in (probably).

      • He looked devastated coming off the field. I thought he played well. Especially after Sapong’s red card. I’ve been as critical as most of Wenger. But at this point, I really feel bad for him.

      • Andy Muenz says:

        There were too many times when he would make a decent play only to follow it up by walking around and not being in position to make the next play. He seems fit to go 45 minutes, not 90 (or even 60).

      • He absolutely has the biggest monkey on his back. I feel bad for him too.
        If, and that is a big IF, he does eventually get a goal, hopefully the flood gates will open for him.

      • Atomic Spartan says:

        It’s a new move- called a Double Wenger

  7. I didn’t see game but it is becoming clearer and clearer we may owe the club an apology regarding The Brazilian at LB- clearly he has developed a level of comfort that is allow him to express himself and his obviously classy game. Dude has played lovely.

    • I think the whole team deserves praise after that match. They showed such heart and determination. Probably their best performance all year.

    • I know right? That goal was so delicious I want to top it with melted cheese and eat it.

    • The problem with Fabinho is he is too slow going backwards. His strength is creativity going forward.
      The problem with Wenger is shooting the ball in the same zip code as the net. His strength is his speed.
      Still don’t see why Curtin doesn’t try reversing them and letting Fabinho play wing and Wenger play left back. I believe that Wenger played it in college. He may get the opportunity to get some confidence back too if the scoring requirement is taken off his shoulders.

  8. Dr. Union says:

    So I dunno if anyone has this information, but how many goals do we have when Wenger is on the field vs him on the bench. I have to think the later with him on the bench is when we get more goals. This alone should tell Curtin he should not be starting/playing.

    • John Ling says:

      I may have a few small details wrong, but I just went through and did the math.
      With Wenger on the field, the Union have scored 16 goals (he assisted on 2), and have given up 26 (goal differential -10). With Wenger not on the field, the Union have scored 6 and given up 6 (goal diff +0).
      That does not count the two Open Cup matches; just league.
      There was a 3 game stretch in early April (5, 11, 16) where he went the full 90. They were 1-1-1 in those games, with a goal differential of +0.
      He’s come off the bench twice. April 19 against NE (a 2-1 loss). NE scored both their goals after he came on – though one was almost right after (came on at 63, goal was scored at 65). Also came off the bench last week against Montreal, a 2-2 draw. Both teams scored one and gave up one before and after he came on the field.
      I’m not sure there are any real inferences to draw, to be honest, even if the goal differential is better when he’s off the field. (Almost half the goal differential came in just one game, the LA debacle; Wenger was on the field for all 6 goals and assisted on the Union’s only tally.)

      • Dr. Union says:

        Good info, so I guess there isn’t a huge difference. However, I can’t say he is helping the team that much either I think is by far time to Fabinho or Mclaughlin or others time on the wing while Wenger rides the bench.

  9. Questions:
    Were the cash lots actually charging cash? Parking was free in B & C.
    Is PPL now Talen? Will the stadium change its name?
    Is there any chance CJ’s red will be reviewed and he won’t be suspended a match?
    Why only 2 subs?
    Why no cheesesteaks for sale? This is Philadelphia right? I mean, close to Philadelphia…

    • Andy Muenz says:

      Only 2 subs made sense. The Union have 11 days off so there is time to rest. If DC had tied it, a set of fresh legs was available for overtime.
      We were wondering the same thing about the cash lots.

    • Parking was free for everyone and restricted to B and C. Lot A and SoB lot were closed for the game.

      • Andy Muenz says:

        The question wasn’t about lots A, B, and C but about the non Union run lots like the one that tries to flag you down right after you make the right turn coming off of the 95 ramp.

    • The cash lot was open, complete with flag people trying to herd those that forgot about free parking into the lot. I mean…they had customers…can’t say why.
      Quite a few of the food places were closed, but I figure with a forecast for rain and historically bad attendance at any Cup game other than the final…it makes sense from a business viewpoint.
      I honestly felt like I had been swimming with my clothes on when I got to my car. Hated the weather, but loved the vibe under the River End during the storm delay.

  10. Loved the effort tonight. There was hustle all over the field and even though the stands were pretty barren, the atmosphere was great. I’ve never left a Union game early but I was tempted to leave during the lightning delay and then again after Sapong’s bogus red card. I’m glad I stuck it out and saw the boys fight back. I haven’t left PPL feeling that kind of satisfaction in along time.

  11. Curtin and the boys deserve a very hearty thumbs up for that effort, especially after CJ was sent off for no good reason.

    Ayuk is really starting to come into his own and was abusing DC’s right wing back.

    I was critical of his decision-making and distribution earlier in the year, but McCarthy was outstanding in all aspects last night. Might be an opportunity to re-evaluate the GK position because I think he’s playing a little better than Sylvestre right now.

    And who would’ve ever thunk a Brazil-Argentina-Brazil connection would have won it for us.

    Well done boys, enjoy the deserved time off.

  12. Hated to leave early but the weather delay would have made it too late with work in the morning… We did DOOP with everyone while at the truck….so in a small way our early exit helped with the win…if we stayed…. It would have been o.t. and pks….and a loss….cuz of my luck!! Great job Union!

  13. The good thing is that now Wenger has checked everything off his “To Do” list BEFORE he can score a goal.

    • John Ling says:

      He hasn’t put one in the river yet. Or into the Stadium Club…

      • OneManWolfpack says:

        Oh god dammit… you’re right. Oh well, gonna have to wait a little longer I guess.

      • el pachyderm says:

        No question Andrew Wenger soared on into the River last year on a volley. I remember it happening. Stadium club….that one is still open though.

  14. This team is really something. Just when you think they are beyond pathetic, they stage an amazing performance like this. (And then, just when you think they are getting their sh*t together, they look pathetic.)

    Two other comments:

    1) That might be the worst red card call I have ever seen. Not only was it not red-card-worthy, not only was it not even yellow-card-worthy… it wasn’t even a foul at all.

    2) I liked the announcing team for the livestream of this match. The male play-by-play guy was pretty good, and the female color analyst was way better than Peter Pappas.

    • Agree on both comments.
      U.S. Open cup stream quality has gone way up over the years.
      The viewing early on was as good (bad) as channel 6 on Saturday but evened out after break.

      As for the card: I wish there was a review process to undo that.

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