Union match reports

Match report: D.C. United 0-4 Philadelphia Union

In their last scheduled trip to RFK Stadium, Philadelphia Union flattened a poor D.C. United side, 4-0.

Four different Union players — Haris Medunjanin, Oguchi Onyewu, Fafa Picault, and Fabian Herbers — scored their first goals of the season, displaying great individual skill. A reckless red card from Luciano Acosta opened up the game in the second half and allowed Philadelphia to stretch their 1-0 lead to the final 4-0 scoreline.

A quad injury to Roland Alberg forced Jim Curtin to try something new at the No. 10 position. Ilsinho, making his first appearance in the center of the park this season, replaced Alberg in the starting XI. Somewhat surprisingly, both Oguchi Onyewu and Ray Gaddis kept their places in defense, as Curtin’s choice to name an unchanged back four kept Richie Marquez and Keegan Rosenberry on the bench.

The Union started positively, earning three corner kicks in the first 10 minutes of the match. However, the visitors also picked up two unnecessary yellow cards during that time, as both Fabinho and Alejandro Bedoya entered Chris Penso’s book.

Ilsinho, active early in his new role, led a 4-on-3 counterattack in the 21st minute. The Brazilian chose the wrong option, however, taking a shot from 19 yards that failed to move Bill Hamid off his spot.

A pass from Jack Elliott sprung C.J. Sapong down the right in the 26th minute, leading to a pair of golden scoring chances as Chris Pontius’s cross left Bill Hamid stranded. But Steve Birnbaum and Kofe Opare combined to stone Ilsinho and Fafa Picault in front of the net, keeping the match scoreless.

Picault forced an outstanding save from Hamid in the 32nd minute, as his half-chance took a deflection off of Opare. Hamid, though, stuck out a strong hand in order to palm the ball away from goal.

Haris Medunjanin broke the deadlock and opened his MLS account with a rocket-propelled strike in the 39th minute. Medunjanin found himself dead center of the park 25 yards from goal, took a touch, and uncorked a shot so powerful it looked like it could have reached the sun. Hamid’s feeble touch couldn’t stope the ball from finding the net, and the Union took a deserved lead into the halftime break.

The Union continued their bright play early in the second half, as a sequence of passes led to a point-blank header by Picault. It looked certain to be a goal, but Hamid produced a tremendous reaction save to keep the ball out of the box.

A rush of blood to the head of Luciano Acosta reduced the home team to 10 men. Feeling that he had been fouled by Onyewu, Acosta immediately scythed down Ilsinho, and Penso did not hesitate to flash straight red to D.C.’s diminutive no. 10.

The Union doubled their lead off a corner in the 64th minute through an unlikely source. Oguchi Onyewu lost his marker in the box and thumped a corner kick by Medunjanin into the D.C. net. It was Onyewu’s first goal in all competitions since 2014.

With D.C. pushing forward, seeing to get back in the game, Philadelphia iced the match on the counterattack in the 78th minute. After Sapong forced a turnover, Medunjanin drove at the backline and found Picault, who took a touch and curled a beauty around Bill Hamid from the edge of the box. Picault became the third Union player to score his first MLS goal in the match.

Substitute Fabian Herbers added insult to injury with his first goal of the year, possibly the best of the four on the evening. Bedoya cut the ball back to him near the top of the box, and Herbers unleashed a one-time crack that found the far corner of Hamid’s goal. It was an audacious piece of skill, and Philadelphia celebrated the fruits of their most comprehensive performance of the season.

After a winless streak that stretched nearly nine months, the Union have now strung together two consecutive wins, and have not allowed a goal since the match against Montreal. They can make it three straight wins on Wednesday night, when they will participate in their first mid-week fixture of the 2017 season when they host Houston Dynamo. Kickoff is at 7:30 p.m. in Chester, Pennsylvania.

Three points
  • Midfield dominance: The Union’s central trio looked fluid, with Ilsinho much more active than either Alberg or Bedoya in the no. 10 role. After the red card, the Union methodically squeezed the life out of their opposition.
  • Another clean sheet: Sure, D.C. were bereft of ideas and even more lacking in end product. But the Union’s back four snuffed out most danger before it even started and even added a goal. Don’t expect that lineup to change in midweek.
  • Haris Medunjanin: Pulled the strings in midfield, added some defensive bite, provided two assists, and scored the Union’s goal of the season so far. Not too shabby.

Philadelphia Union

Andre Blake, Ray Gaddis, Oguchi Onyewu, Jack Elliott, Fabinho, Fafa Picault (Jay Simpson 80′), Ilsinho (Fabian Herbers 64′), Alejandro Bedoya, Haris Medunjanin, Chris Pontius (Warren Creavalle 73′), C.J. Sapong
Unused Subs: John McCarthy, Richie Marquez, Keegan Rosenberry, Adam Najem

D.C. United

Bill Hamid, Taylor Kemp, Bobby Boswell, Kofi Opare (Chris Korb 53′), Steve Birnbaum, Jared Jeffrey (Marcelo Sarvas HT), Lloyd Sam, Ian Harkes, Luciano Acosta, Lamar Neagle, Patrick Mullins (Sebastien Le Toux 77′)
Unused subs:
 Travis Worra, Chris Korb, Jalen Robinson, Chris Odol-Atsem, Marcelo Sarvas, Jose Guillermo Ortiz

Scoring summary

PHI: Haris Medunjanin (Chris Pontius) — 39′
PHI: Oguchi Onyewu (Haris Medunjanin) — 64′
PHI: Fafa Picault (Haris Medunjanin) — 78′
PHI: Fabian Herbers (Alejandro Bedoya) — 88′

Disciplinary summary

PHI: Fabinho – 4′ (unsporting behavior)
PHI: Alejandro Bedoya — 9′ (unsporting behavior)
DC: Lamar Neagle — 19′ (unsporting behavior)
DC: Luciano Acosta — 66′ (straight red) (serious foul)
DC: Marcelo — 64′ (dissent)

Philadelphia Union D.C. United
 19 Shots 7
 9 Shots on Target 1
 4 Shots off Target 6
 6 Blocked Shots 0
 7 Corner Kicks 3
 20 Crosses 12
 1 Offsides 2
 11 Fouls 14
 2 Yellow Cards 2
 0 Red Cards 1
 431 Total Passes 411
 76% Passing Accuracy 76%
 50.5% Possession 49.4%
 63 Duels Won 45
 58.3% Duels Won % 41.7%
 20 Tackles Won 12
 1 Saves 5
 15 Clearances 213


  1. pragmatist says:

    Fafa looked very good tonight. If we can lock down Fafa-Ilsinho-Pontius as the midfield combo, we’ll be on the right path.
    Random note:
    When Gooch was protecting Ilsinho after the Acosta red card, i noticed a combo point – Acosta is tiny and Gooch is huge. The visual of Gooch towering over Acosta was hysterical.

  2. That was fun!

  3. 19 shots. I know, I know, 9 men, but it could have been 6-0 easily.

    I don’t think you breakup Gooch/Elliot.

    • HopkinsMD says:

      Probably even more than that if a few shot-takers would have simply laid the ball back to the open teammate in the middle of the box.

  4. philpill says:

    Nice win, but 3 yellows in first 19 minutes is inexcusable officiating that – for a change – helped the U.

    • Andy Muenz says:

      I don’t think Penso really helped the Union. Two of those early yellows were against the U and there could easily have been more against DC if he was going to be consistent. The red card was a no brainer (on multiple levels) that happened right in front of him. He should have given Sam a yellow for the dive in the box trying to draw the second yellow on Fabinho.

    • pragmatist says:

      The bad one I saw was when Gooch steamrolled someone, including with his elbows up, and no call. That led directly to the corner kick where Gooch scored.
      Refs are gonna miss calls, but that one was bad and penal.
      Aside from that, I thought he was reasonable, by MLS standards.

      • Onyewu also should have been called for a foul on that play where Acosta lost his mind.

  5. Andy Muenz says:

    Granted it was against a weak opponent, but this was by far their best game of the season. After 7 seasons it was nice to see the Union finally exploit the man advantage rather than blow the lead although they were the better team 11 v 11 as well.
    Now to see whether they can do it twice more this week against a strong Houston team and a poor Colorado squad.

    • Honestly, if we can get 2 points out of these next two games i’m fine. If we can win against either Houston or Colorado and lose the other, i’m fine with that also, seeing how we will have played 3 games in 7 days. Granted, if we can win both i’ll be very happy/impressed.

      • Andy Muenz says:

        I would really like to see 3 against Colorado since it will also be their 3rd in 7 days with more travelling.


  7. UnionGoal says:

    7 goals, two clean sheets, no longer in last, positive Goal diff….could be start of turnaround we were hoping for at end of last season.
    Few weeks ago I said it wasn’t all lost that they could have 13-15 points come June 1st–wasn’t expecting Red Bulls victory but–without jinxing them–that is still possible.

    BTW–who came up with the Fresh Prince riff? That was fun and while I won’t say that is only reason they won last week, truth is, it was fun for players and desperately needed morale boost that coincidentally occurred right before a 7 goal, two lights out “streak”. Genius—promote that guy!

  8. HopkinsMD says:

    Good job tonight, Union! Play was definitely better. Once Acosta went out, DC lost any spark that had been flickering.
    Medunjanin really stepped up. What a rocket of a goal. He even stripped a couple of DC players in one-on-one challenges.
    Heck of a one-timer from Herbers.
    4-0, yet there were a handful of missed opportunities where there was an open man in great scoring position. At least they were attacking all night.
    My only real question is why Blake was hoofing the ball down field when he had one or two low-pressure passes to his defenders… had to be at least half a dozen times after DC was down a man.

    • HopkinsMD says:

      I should also mention that Gooch made his header look easy (nice ball from Haris).
      Fafa with the cool finish. Nice to see. Didn’t know he had that in him.
      Appreciated the assist from the Captain to Herbers after Herbers didn’t set him up a couple of minutes before.

  9. Maybe being more defensively sound has them being more creative. Their shape was as compact and in sync tonight as I’ve ever seen it. That was before the red. They even looked creative, with C.J. showing more and more of his game most didn’t think he had. Fafa comes good. Haris let’s go a blast. Things may actually be looking up. They need to show again on Wednesday.

    • HopkinsMD says:

      Maybe the reverse of 2016 like some speculated about a few months ago?
      Curious to see if players get rest mid-week.

      • This is where Curtin infuriates me. He should swap the lineup for the midweek match. Rosenberry-Richie, Simpson, etc. he won’t.

      • pragmatist says:

        I think you will see some of those subs. Expect Marquez and Simpson. Not sure about Rosenberry. Something is going on there…

  10. Another solid win. Glad others picked up the scoring pace for Sapong. Even though he didn’t score he came close and caused havoc for the DC back 4. Yes I still want the Union to add more proven DP’s and I’m no fan on money ball, but good game. It’s also about time the Union got some breaks.

  11. Scott McVey says:

    Good win against a garbage D.C. Team. I no longer think we’re the worst in the East.

  12. el Pachyderm says:

    The team is coming together it seems. Bedoya in 8 helpful.
    Two draws and 2 wins and all of a sudden it’s a four game unbeaten, summoning Lou Brown.
    Congrats men. I could nitpick but will refrain.

  13. 1. I have been saying FOR WEEKS that Ilsinho should be our #10. Now, he wasn’t fantastic or anything, but he also hasn’t played in weeks and he was rusty. He also hasn’t played there for us before. I think if you give him a few matches at that position he will do far, far better than Alberg ever did. (And better than Bedoya too.)

    2. Medunjanin was freakin’ fantastic tonight, even aside from the goal. His defensive work was superb, especially in the first half. He was everywhere. I haven’t seen him do anything like that so far.

    3. Picault had several serious rips. Very nice that one finally went in for him.

    4. Penso’s refereeing was just awful. I couldn’t believe the calls and non-calls. The Union were dominating the game even before the red card, so I don’t think the final result would have changed, but ye gods. I do give him credit for not calling a penalty on Fabinho’s tackle in the box, though. He got ball, and it was a very good non-call.

    • HopkinsMD says:

      Regarding #1, I’m curious to see what happens over the next few games… Does his decision-making improve in the final third? Can he sustain the defensive work rate?
      #2 – For sure. He was a game-changer tonight.
      #4 – My mouth was hanging open until I saw the zoomed-in replay.
      Got that one right.

    • Buccistick says:

      Happy you got your wish to see #25 at the #10 … but only because it affirmed that deployment as a square peg in a round hole — and a mediocre one at that.
      The CAM requires a 90-minute problem-solver who brings his teammates into all phases of play. (Discipline helps, too *ahem* Acosta.) Even with Ilsinho’s improved defense and overall fitness, the Paulista ain’t that man. He has yet to display the necessary level of anticipation, or really any field-marshaling sense. And at 31 years, it ain’t happening in his career.
      Ilsinho wants to dribble by fullbacks from the corner of the box. And he has the skill to pull it off (still — well, at least against the defenders of this league …). Good for him, and good for us on occasion.
      But a #10 embodies that fundamental Cruyff-ism: football is a game that you play with your head. He’s the one who brings his teammates into the match. And he’s always showing for the ball. Most of the times tonight that Ilsinho dished it going forward, he just plain stopped moving or promptly disappeared behind a defender. IN THE MIDDLE OF THE PARK.
      For all of Alberg’s streaky goal-scoring, our nominal #10’s game lacks in similar respects. No matter how cool a two-footed sharpshooter (in Alberg’s case) or silky a ball-handler (Ilsinho), sticking a 60-minute man in that position sets your team up for frustration at best, and failure at worst.
      Having said all that … the 2017 roster plain has no proper candidate. Curtin hasn’t had a viable CAM candidate since the departure of Barnetta (also a winger; and to the credit of his international pedigree, it took him only a few months in the hole before he really clicked in that position.)
      As others have said far longer and more articulately than I have, the #10 remains a priority for the U’s mid-season transfer window.
      So this is another opportunity for Earnie to make good on his reputation.

      • HopkinsMD says:

        Well articulated. CAM has to be the top priority.

      • Don’t get me wrong — I never said that Ilsinho would be our Benny Fielhaber or anything. He’ll be an OK CAM at best. I’m just saying that, of the pieces we have on the current roster, he is BY FAR the person best suited for the job, and it isn’t even close. A couple more matches in that role and I think you may be pleasantly surprised. And I hope we rarely, if ever, see Alberg there again. But having said all that, I sure as hell hope Earnie is looking around for our Bennie Feilhaber.

      • I think we should give Ilsinho a couple of matches just like we did with Barnetta.

        Agree that a playmaker remains the number on transfer target.

  14. To all the people who thought Medunjanin should ride pine…. this game should have set you straight. Good win for the U.

  15. Shadow of Vinny Nogs says:

    Medunjanin and Bedoya were excellent

  16. HopkinsMD says:

    After watching the replay of Herbers’ goal, it looks like he may have struck the ball mid-shin. I’m sure he doesn’t mind.

  17. Great win against a shit team. I don’t even feel bad for DC; they acted like brats. Trash talk Fafa, after he was obviously fouled? Are they kidding? The video actually showed him getting shoved from behind after that play. What a bunch of knuckleheads.

  18. The Union beat a bad team and took advantage of a red card. Just that alone is impressive. The bar is low yes, but how many times have we seen the exact opposite. Defense was pretty solid too. Elliott can play. And a Gooch is just flat out great with his feet. Good effort tonight – especially from guys like Haris and Bedoya who needed a game like this.
    Haris my man… KEEP SHOOTING!!
    Keep it rolling. They’re half way to making up the shitty first 2 months.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *


%d bloggers like this: