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Match report: Philadelphia Union 3-2 D.C. United

Photo: 215pix

Borek Dockal scored his first MLS goal Saturday in the 72nd minute to secure Philadelphia Union’s game-winner to defeat D.C. United 3-2 on a beautiful spring afternoon at Talen Energy Stadium.

Zoltan Stieber gave D.C. the lead in just the 7th minute, capitalizing off of a mistake in the Union backline. Ilsinho tied the game in the 37th minute, when his shot deflected into the D.C. goal off of Frederic Brillant.

C.J. Sapong would give the Union the lead in the 60th minute, heading in Alejandro Bedoya’s headed cross from close range. Substitute Darren Mattocks scored a fantastic volley in the 70th minute to bring United back to level terms, but Dockal’s blast from close range just two minutes later became the game-winning goal.

Jim Curtin made two changes to the team that lost in Dallas last week. Jack Elliott was healthy enough to return to the lineup, replacing Mark McKenzie. The other change came on the right side of midfield, with Ilsinho preferred to Fafa Picualt.

D.C. United were on the board in just the 7th minute through Stieber. A poor passing sequence by the Union’s back line ended when Jack Elliott gave the ball away to Yamil Asad 40 yards from the Union goal. Asad played a quick pass to Luciano Acosta, who played Stieber in behind the Union backline on the right. Stieber made no mistake rolling a cool finish past Andre Blake.

Philadelphia equalized in the 36th minute thanks to Ilsinho. The winger did well to move past two United defenders down the Union right wing and drive into the box. His low cross was put into a good area and caromed off of Frederic Brillant and into the United goal. It was initially given as an own goal, but later changed to Ilsinho.

The Union would take the lead in the 60th minute through Sapong. Haris Medunjanin lofted a ball to the right side that Alejandro Bedoya was able to head back across goal. Sapong made no mistake, powering a header into the net from five yards out.

Despite a heavy edge for the home side in both possession and attacking chances, D.C. would tie the game in the 70th minute. Stieber drove down the D.C. left side and simply lofted an arcing cross to the far post. Substitute Darren Mattocks met it on the volley and beat Blake with an impressive finish at his near post.

The Union would retake the lead just two minutes later through Dockal. The Czech midfielder found himself on the ball on the corner of the United six-yard box and made no mistake, rifling a high shot into the top corner at the near post past helpless keeper Steve Clark.

The final result was only the Union’s second win of the year, and they did it in front of an announced attendance of 16,493. While the actual attendance was probably less than that, Talen was as full as it has been all year, and the positive atmosphere reflected a fuller stadium.

The Union leave the friendly confines of Talen for a challenging three-games-in-nine-days road trip. They are next in action when they travel to Toronto on Friday, May 4, to take on the defending MLS champions. Kickoff is at 8 p.m.


Philadelphia Union

Andre Blake, Keegan Rosenberry, Jack Elliott, Auston Trusty, Matt Real, Haris Medunjanin, Alejandro Bedoya, Borek Dockal (Warren Creavalle 88′), Ilsinho (Fafa Picault 68′), David Accam (Cory Burke 82′), C.J. Sapong
Unused Subs: John McCarthy, Anthony Fontana, Matthew Real, Mark McKenzie

D.C. United

Steve Clark, Nick DeLeon, Joseph Mora, Steve Birnbaum, Frederic Brillant, Christopher Durkin, Yamil Asad, Ulises Segura, Zoltan Stieber, Luciano Acosta (Bruno Miranda 68′), Patrick Mullins (Darren Mattocks 68′)
Unused Subs: David Ousted, Oniel Fisher, Chris Odio-Atsem, Kofi Opare, Ian Harkes

Scoring summary

DC: Zoltan Stieber — 7′ (Luciano Acosta, Yamil Asad)
PHL: Ilsinho — 37′ (Keegan Rosenberry)
PHI: C.J. Sapong – 60′ (Alejandro Bedoya, Haris Medunjanin)
DC: Darren Mattocks – 70′ (Zoltan Stieber, Bruno Miranda)
PHI: Boreck Dockal – 72′

Disciplinary summary

DC: Yamil Asad — 23′ (dissent)
PHI: Auston Trusty — 44′ (unsporting behavior)
PHI: Jack Elliott — 66′ (unsporting behavior)

Philadelphia Union D.C. United
 23 Shots 4
 9 Shots on Target  3
 7 Shots off Target 1
 7 Blocked Shots  0
11 Corner Kicks  1
 20 Crosses 6
 3 Offsides 1
 14 Fouls  4
 2 Yellow Cards  1
 0 Red Cards 0
 594 Total Passes  383
 86% Passing Accuracy 76%
61.3% Possession  38.7%
 47 Duels Won  49
 48% Duels Won %  52%
 7 Tackles Won  10
 1 Saves  6
 8 Clearances 35


  1. el Pachyderm says:

    Congrats Jim. Congrats, Players.
    Fair and balanced. I can stand behind that version of the game ….not because they won but because it’s an expression of how to play I can better relate to.
    Dominant possession. Dominant creativity in final 1/3. Minimal route 1.
    Need to tighten up defensive lapses.
    Now… let’s build on it.

    • El p,
      1. They won, congrats. But both of us said as much prior to game.
      2.Past few games they dominated possession, crushed on number of passes, accuracy over 80% each time, no punts from Blake, and all agreed they had played “minimum route 1”. And lost. Yesterday has been weakest opponent yet and score was still in doubt despite our prediction. How many were waiting for an extra minute equalizer?
      3. Differences? Elliott much better than real or McKenzie. Give them a few more Usl games and save them for off the bench moments before starting them again. If they had been in probable you wouldn’t have reason to be so charitable in your post-game comments.
      4. Nobody said they can’t occasionally win games. That isn’t issue….the team needs better chemistry and better game adjusting and more passion. Frankly I hope the passion is sparked by the win but we will see.
      5. Curtin just got call for an encore so for those hoping for final Curtin call__you need to wait another month or more depending if he can get another win or two.
      6. Good news about attendance. Hope it stays there but you know Phillies and Sixers looking good.And Eagles start when? Lots of pressure for Union to do VERY well to maintain eyeballs.

      • el Pachyderm says:

        Good points Union Goal.
        almost 24 hours later and 19 responses is disappointing, even if only to check in and say, ‘AFT’

    • Agree here. They looked good in possession and had everything accept a finishing touch. Almost seemed to be pushing too hard to be creative at times. Dockal and Ilsinho were very good. Hope they can be as convincing on the road against better competition.

  2. Andy Muenz says:

    Good but not great game. Would rather have had that result with Real in rather than Gaddis.

    • I know Ray isn’t the future, but he had a solid game, did a good job getting forward, and was regularly involved in the attacking end. Maybe he has figured out that fullbacks need to be two-way players in the modern game. Or they were playing a team that was content to bunker most of the game.

      • Andy Muenz says:

        I understand Ray had a reasonable game (although the 2nd DC goal was scored by a player who got between him and Trusty…still a tough one to defend on a perfect pass). But given the way the season is going, I would like to continue to give Real a chance.

      • I liked Real in preseason, but he was attacking a lot more in that game. So far he has been pretty timid on the other half of the field, I want to see him break out of his shell.
        I agree that he should be out there instead of Gaddis, but it looks like he’s on the wrong side of Curtin’s ledger right now.

  3. OneManWolfpack says:

    Young Trusty got a little caught being a step or two behind on the 2nd goal but it was a nice finish. Regardless I agree with The Elephant… I liked the way they played today. CJ was a little rough but had a nice goal. If we had a ether finisher we’d have a ton more goals. Again tho… not much to hate about this game. Now do it again and impress me.

  4. It is about time!!… But I refuse to be taken in. Yes, they clearly dominated the play throughout. But that was against inferior opposition, at home, and they STILL almost managed to piss away 2 points.

    Dockal finished in excellent fashion for goal #3. But he is clearly still not on the same page as his mates in the final third. David Accam is this year’s Ilsinho, making repeated scintillating, driving moves only to come up blank at the end. And Medunjanin lofted a nice ball in to Bedoya for the secondary assist on goal #2, but otherwise contributed little, yet again. And of course each of our young CBs made a tragic mistake to allow a goal. (Though I am less worried about the latter; those boys are solid players, and anyway each required a fine finish for the damage.) Oh, and let’s not forget our complete impotence on corner kicks.

    Now, maybe this is where the metrics and the team’s talent start to regress (upward!) to where they belong in th standings, which is at least a little bit higher than they are.. But until we see all the pieces contributing, and until we see performances like this on the road, I remain a skeptic.

    • el Pachyderm says:

      Accam is pressing. Every time he touches the ball it seems the angst to score propels him to do something… often excessively.

    • Scottso, good points. On your point about Dockal, i think what you mean to say is that the rest of his mates aren’t on the same page as him in the final third or on the rest of the pitch. He’s been looking poor lately yes, but there has been too much pressure on him to make every play spectacular. His movement off the ball has been great. If the rest of the team moves like him then things can get better in the final third.

      • Yes, you are correct about Dockal. He and the rest of the front 5 are not on the same page, but it is not necessarily all on him. And we knew this would happen (I certainly did!), I just figured we would start to see improvement. Maybe we are? But I am withholding any optimism until I see a clear trend.

  5. Much better game. CJ looked dead at the end, give him at least a few mins. I’ve been advocating CJ sitting for a game, since his moment has been non existent, but after watching Burke in person, there’s no way he should start. So we need to move things to fit CJ better.
    Dockal has a much better game, there were at least 2 times I remember him placing great passes and no teammates were in the open space. He and Rosenberry play much better with Ilsinho in.
    All good things said, Medunjanin still is not great this year. Idk if it’s bc I was there today, but he seemed to drop back much more often to try and get the ball, which helped. But he still isn’t having a huge effect. Bedoya and Dockal both had instances where they were demonstratively frustrated with him.

    • none of those three central midfielders are the future.

    • To me, Medunjanin has been one of the biggest negative stories of the season. Maybe he’s just having a bad run of form? But if he doesn’t turn it around soon, it will he incumbent upon the team to move on from him, as he is not contributing nearly enough.

  6. Tried watching via twitter. Kept dropping out and wouldn’t easily reload. Such a nice day.
    I echo scottso: refuse to be taken in. Let’s get a road win. Let’s stitch together some points. Let’s do it against a better team.

  7. Well they won. I thought it might be in doubt for a bit there, but they pulled it out. I also agree with el P that Accam, and I think a few others are/were pressing. Would love to see Accam get off the snide, sooner rather than later. They should actual movement this week. Amazing. No it wasn’t perfect, but like others have said it’s a start. Now show it again, on the road.

  8. Zizouisgod says:

    A vital three points given what’s ahead for a team who has been woeful on the road.

    Ilsinho really energized the attack as he was willing to pop into pockets of space and look to combine with others. As Great One said above, it really resonated with both Rosenberry (who has good chemistry with Ilsinho) and Dockal. Dockal played very well and was extremely active.

    Bedoya’s first half was awful. He seemed to be either sitting too deep or too high and was maddeningly inconsistent in the team’s build-up play. Making it worse was his body language and gestures which were very negative. He improved after Ilsinho’s goal, but watching him and Harris together in midfield just further reinforces that it’s not an effective 6/8 partnership.

    Agree with Pachy above. Accam is clearly pressing. Desperately wants to contribute, but it’s very rare that he’s not facing 2-3 defenders every time he gets the ball. When he gets that opening, he tries to do too much instead of playing simple. It doesn’t help that he has zero chemistry with Sapong.

  9. OneManWolfpack says:

    Accam just needs to make one move and shoot. He beat the first guy several times yesterday and then tried to keep dribbling. Just rip it. Confidence comes from scoring not trying to dribble thru the entire right side of the defense.

    • I seriously wanted him to rip a shot multiple times. At least he’s getting to the point where a shot is available. I think he’ll get his rhythm soon and start taking some of those chances – he’s certainly capable of it.

  10. Improving the Union offense ………Its always nice to win but…. the Union need at least 2 new players ….. a better forward then Sapong and a ” younger more durable version of Ishinio”. Ilshinio played well. He made some great moves. He drew 2 players to him and found the open man. There is nobody else on this team with his skills. Unfortunately he will not last more than 60 minutes for a few games before he is injured. He cant help it. He is getting older. Fafa and Accam can not make those “Ilshinio moves ” and teams already know that. Both are more 1 dimensional in their attack and teams have figure out hw to contain Fafa and Accam.

  11. Ilsinho was the best player on the field for either team in the first half.
    Dockal’s best game so far but still wanting more from him.
    Now do it again.

  12. Big deal, 8 points from 7 games. The next month of matches is going to be brutal for this squad. But knowing this team they’ll probably go out and nab 12 points. Come on, you boys in blue.

    • Andy Muenz says:

      It’s a lot better than 3 points from 7 games including a blown 3-0 lead, which is where they were last year.

      • Yeah I guess you’d rather step in dogsh*t and not horsesh*t but both situations stink. The team is still not playing well and the next few weeks will be a true test. Happy for the win, happy for the sunshine.

      • Honestly “not playing well” is a huge stretch. Look at our possession #s, our shot #s, or pass % numbers – all pretty damn good.

        Those are the things we complained about not doing well for YEARS. Now we are finally doing it.

        Yeah, results are not coming and we still need to get a lot better. But most of the time we do play well.

  13. I enjoyed watching us pepper DC with shots. Some of them might have been better thought out, but at least we’re getting looks.

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