Union match reports

Match report: Union 3-0 DC United

Philadelphia Union got back to their winning ways with a 3-0 triumph over DC United in Chester Saturday night.

Two first half penalties gave the Union a cushion that they built on through Ilsinho’s gorgeous half-volley two minutes into the second half. Andre Blake made a number of big saves to preserve the shutout, but the gulf of quality between the sides was clear from the outset; it was a dominant performance.

The most relieving lineup news for the Union was that they had three previously injured attackers back in the fold. CJ Sapong returned to the starting lineup with both Fabian Herbers and Sebastien Le Toux sliding onto the bench. A red card suspension for Joshua Yaro meant Ken Tribbett joined the back line, and Sapong pushed Roland Alberg into midfield, which dropped Tranquillo Barnetta deep and Warren Creavalle to the pine.

First half

From the opening whistle, there was no doubt that the Union were the more focused and organized side. CJ Sapong pushed Kofi Opare around, and Tranquillo Barnetta’s runs from deep were drawing Marcelo out of the center.

It took until the 15th minute for either team to get a shot off. Roland Alberg’s volley was wildly off target, but it was a bugle announcing the Union’s intent.

In the 19th minute, a turnover in midfield set Chris Pontius on a long run up the left channel. The winger deked inside and drew a penalty from an off-balance Kofi Opare, who received a caution for his troubles.

Roland Alberg slotted home past Bill Hamid for his sixth goal of the season.

For the next fifteen minutes, the Union pressure was relentless. One long ranger from Lamar Neagle was all DC could muster as Philly dominated the middle of the pitch.

In the 36th minute, Ilsinho earned the Union their second penalty of the half, pushed to the ground as he cut through the defense. The Brazilian was emphatic about taking the shot he had earned, and snuck it low past a diving Hamid.

Second half

Two minutes into the second half, Ilsinho doubled his MLS goals total and the Union put the match out of reach. Roland Alberg lofted a free kick to the back post that CJ Sapong nodded back toward the penalty spot. With Tranquillo Barnetta in his peripheral vision, Ilsinho stepped in front of his teammate and rifled home a sensational finish.

DC responded by pushing Nick DeLeon further up the pitch and trying to pressure Philly’s back line. This made for an open match, and both keepers had to be in top form to keep the scoreline from changing. Blake’s 53rd minute save was quickly topped by Hamid’s 59th minute effort. Blake’s retort was an absurd 84th minute block on Luciano Acosta’s knuckling missile, but he was outdone in the end by a silly-quick reflex save from Hamid while moving across goal to deny Chris Pontius the goal he so desperately wanted against his old team.

Aside from goalkeeping heroics, little of note occurred in the second frame. The Union’s aggressive midfield defense forced DC to play wide, but both wingers received the ball so deep that the visitors rarely made inroads into the home half.

Philly, meanwhile, broke with numbers at regular intervals but consistently misplayed their setup passes. Over and again, players were forced wide and DC allowed to recover.

The Union next play on July 17 when they welcome New York Red Bulls to Chester.

Philadelphia Union
Andre Blake, Fabinho, Richie Marquez, Ken Tribbett, Keegan Rosenberry, Brian Carroll, Tranquillo Barnetta, Ilsinho (Le Toux 68′), Chris Pontius, Roland Alberg (Creavalle 71′), CJ Sapong (Herbers 79′)
Unused Subs: Matt Jones, Ray Gaddis, Anderson, Leo Fernandes

DC United 
Bill Hamid, Sean Franklin, Kofi Opare, Steve Birnbaum, Tayler Kemp, Marcelo Sarvas, Nick DeLeon (Acosta 64′), Jared Jeffrey, Fabian Espindola, Lamar Neagle (Boswell 68′), Alhaji Kamara (Saborio 57′)
Unused Subs: Travis Worra, Jalen Robinson, Lloyd Sam, Rob Vincent

Scoring Summary
PHI: Alberg (penalty) — 20′
PHI: Ilsinho (penalty) — 37′
PHI: Ilsinho — 47

Disciplinary Summary
DC: Opare (Unsporting behavior) — 19′
DC: Opare (red; unsporting behavior) — 65′

Philadelphia Union DC United
15 Shots 6
7 Shots on Target 3
 7 Shots off Target 3
1 Blocked Shots 0
 5 Corner Kicks 1
 12 Crosses 7
 1 Offsides 1
11 Fouls 21
 0 Yellow Cards 1
 0 Red Cards 1
 479 Total Passes 324
 84% Passing Accuracy 76%
 59.4% Possession 40.4%
 49 Duels Won 41
 54.4% Duels Won % 45.6%
 16 Tackles Won 14
 3 Saves 4
 6 Clearances 13


  1. Arrrgggh! Missed offensive fireworks AND the other kind. Well done, boys. I’ll catch a replay.

  2. el Pachyderm says:

    Only had one eye to spare this eve, but let us agree, no matter the circumstances, 3 for and Zero against is pretty well free from criticism.
    As The Big Ragu says, ‘that’s a well done well done award’ to Philadelphia Union.

  3. CJ had a great game. I was throwing doubts his way earlier this week, but he was a boss. Goal or no, he was crucial. With Pontius and Ilsinho on the attack with him…. wow. Who’d have predicted the Union could lead the league in goals scored?
    And does any team play as — not dirty — but as recklessly as DC? The fouls were an embarrassment to football in general. Like a team of Neanderthals. Utterly without grace or style.

    • Clumsy at times as well. I wouldn’t say they disgrace the game, just that they really didn’t have a plan to deal with the union attack on the night. Regardless, the Union controlled this game from opening whistle to the end. We should all be happy tonight.

    • Great One says:

      Opare inparticular was just taking down anything that moved. The red was inevitable

  4. Lucky Striker says:

    a badly needed breather against a club in disarray. Well done all.

  5. Pragmatist says:

    Bounce back character win. Having players healthy truly makes a difference. And no matter what you think of CJ, his presence makes everyone else better by allowing them to play their natural positions and play them well.
    Well done, boys. Let’s see if this is a sign of things to come.

  6. Andy Muenz says:

    Strong performance all around by the U. Although Blake had some nice saves, he was never seriously tested from close in and it took several strong saves by Hamid to keep it as close as it was.

  7. DC, united in their complete lack of imagination and skill. This team must be more difficult to support than Philadelphia at their worst.

  8. A small thing but Richie and Ken were much more involved in our possession and build up tonight than lately and their execution superb. Poor Hamid was busy through stoppage time – no let up. This is a team.

    • I like Tribett’s game. Should he be the starter over Yaro?

      • Platoon them. Yaro plays against speed strikers and Tribbett against hold-up guys.

      • Agreed. Tribbett isn’t fast enough but is stronger than Yaro. So nice to have depth

      • Old Soccer Coach says:

        While Tribett passed well on the carpet almost always, Yaro’s passing is precise and nuanced both in the air and on the ground.
        Once, against Alhadji Kamara – I wonder if he really has performed the pilgrimage to Mecca – Tribbett was beaten for pace straight up. Yaro, on the other hand, while he did not pull away from David Accam, neither did Accam pull away from him.
        Tribett is the competent serviceable back up whose upside in incremental. Yaro is the starter whose upside is yet to be discovered.

  9. HopkinsMD says:

    Unrelated to the game, congrats to Blake and Rosenberry for making the starting XI that will represent MLS against Arsenal.

    • Absolutely, and well deserved I think

    • Great One says:

      Do you know how it works in that will they definitely start? Something is making me think that the coach picks the starters. If that’s so, bigger names will start

      • To my understanding the FAN XI is for show. Per mlssoccer.com:

        The final 2016 AT&T MLS All-Star gameday roster will be announced on Sunday, July 17, and will include the two Commissioner’s Picks, as well as 20 players selected by All-Star team head coach Dominic Kinnear.

        While the players named to the Fan XI are not guaranteed a spot on the gameday roster, the outcome of fan voting is taken into consideration as the 22-man roster is decided.

      • Old Soccer Coach says:

        They are not guaranteed to make the game day roster..
        The Commisioner’s picks are yet to come.
        The head coach of the team hosting the event picks his starting eleven from the available pool..
        As I have said before, being selfish, I hope they don’t get picked, so their exposure is less so we are more likely to keep them longer.

    • They’ll play cause they made the 22 man roster and since it’s an all star game with unlimited subs, they get everyone to play

  10. There are times this season when the team looks so darn good I could cry tears of joy.

  11. BBQSoccer says:

    Speed of passing was excellent this evening. Ilsinho’s 1v1 is on turbo good.

  12. Barnetta’s pass to Pontius that set up the first penalty kick was a thing of beauty. It should be mentioned, imo.
    I know it is tough to write up a quick post match report so I’m mentioning it in the comments.
    That PK does not happen without the pass from #10.

    • Zizouisgod says:

      Agreed, it was a wonderful splitting ball by Barnetta that sprung Pontius.

      It was, as Adam correctlily pointed out, a dominant performance by the Union. Very impressive.

      Another thing that I like about Barnetta is what a great leader he is. After the two PK’s, he made a point to seek out each player as they came back to midfield with encouragement and recognition of their part in the goal. It was really striking and nice to see from one of our best players who perhaps could have made a claim to take one of the PK’s. Even after Alberg let Ilsinho take the 2nd PK, you could see Barnetta complimenting Alberg for being unselfish and letting a teammate score. That kind of leadership really helps a team stay in perfect harmony during a long season. Fantastic.

      • On your 2nd point, totally agree.
        In the stadium it was obvious that #10 was trying to make sure that the team kept up the pressure and didn’t give up a ‘let down goal’.

      • Buccistick says:

        Thank you for highlighting that quiet moment of leadership from our classy Swiss-y. Great eye, Zizouisgod! More to Pragmatist’s affection of earlier this morning …
        … whose other observation — already repeated here by Alicat215, Pete, and Old Soccer Coach — cannot be emphasized too much: CJ transforms this attack. Stud #17 deserves about 1.5 assists on Ilsinho’s second goal.
        Mr. Sapong, we have clearly missed you.

  13. They kicked DCs ass. Period. Fireworks were awesome. 🙂 Great night to see a game.

    • It almost moves me to tears that we can destroy the teams we are supposed to destroy. We have a damn good team. Save your money… playoffs are a comin 🙂
      Yeah I replied to my own comment… whatever

      • Zizouisgod says:

        Too funny. When I was leaving the match, I had the same thought about playoffs. My wife and I have been trying to plan a trip in the fall and my first thought walking out of Talen was to make sure that I don’t miss a potential playoff match.

      • Andy Muenz says:

        There are no home games between September 10 and October 16 so that may be a good window for you. Also, November 7-15 is an international break for World Cup qualifying. Given that the US is likely to play Mexico and Costa Rica in the first two rounds of the hex, I imagine MLS will take those weeks off from the playoffs.

      • Zizouisgod says:

        Thanks, Andy.

      • Pragmatist says:

        I love this site.

  14. Alicat215 says:

    It’s nice having CJ back, big difference!

  15. Old Soccer Coach says:

    Most important part for me was to begin to sense how a classic #9 hold-up and distribute striker would interact with Alberg, Ilsinho and Barnetta. There were at least two instances of misreading each other, but it looks like it could work.
    Sapong fresh suggests depth at striker could have real value, as many here have been saying for months.

  16. A splash of cold water on a Sunday in July: more than once Ilsinho had his back to the touchline while his All-Star teammate streaked past into wide open space on an overlapping run. Waste not, want not.

    • Do we think this could be a language barrier thing? I’ve been in that situation in a pickup game recently (as the outside back) and my friend who only speaks some english didn’t find the ridiculously simple pass so I could launch a cross at our obscenely tall striker.

  17. Yeah fans in 126 noticed this too. Ilsinho in particular seems to look to take guys on when a simple pass to the R back at touch line would be more effective and dangerous.

    • His 1v1 would be even deadlier with a blind pass thrown in. Maybe opening his league account with a brace will keep his help.

  18. I wanted to extend a special Thank U to the Union who put on the “U camp Out” last night. I’m not sure what was the coolest part of the entire night. Playing soccer out on the pitch until 1:30 in the AM…. Camping out at mid field…Waking up to “Doop” blaring out of the loud speakers at 6:30AM….or watching the Union training staff put everyone through a 45 minute workout at 7. What an absolute fantastic experience for all the parents and kids who attended. Keep up the great work both on and off the field!

  19. Great game. Fast paced,possession, strong Defense, this is the real Union. Gotta say , the head referee had a great game. Has to be one of the best refs in the league. Hopefully we keep our starters healthy and rested during the Crystal Palace match so we can be fit and ready for the Pink Cows.

    • Darth Harvey says:

      Although Stoica had a good game, he was also the centerman for one of our Open Cup games this year where he was infuriating. He’s just like the rest of them….inconsistent…

      My wife said that she would go to the CP game only if Rebecca Lowe (a reputed lifelong CP supporter) was going to be at the game

    • Stoica also was responsible for a debacle vs. Orlando. The game is so much easier to call when the team getting their ass kicked doesn’t even care enough to get mad.

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