Union match reports

Match report: D.C. United 1-5 Philadelphia Union

Photo: Marjorie Elzey

The Union put on a show on national television on Sunday night, destroying ten-man D.C. United 5-1 and retaining first place in the Eastern Conference.

A brace — and man of the match performance — from Marco Fabian led the way for the Union, with Alejandro Bedoya, Kacper Przybylko, and Fafa Picault also picking up goals.

Eight days after a 4-0 drubbing in Montreal, Jim Curtin made four changes to his starting XI. Andrew Wooten earned his first start in a Union shirt at striker, replacing Fafa Picault, while Warren Creavalle and Aurelien Collin each made their third start to the season in place of Brenden Aaronson and Auston Trusty, respectively. Kai Wagner returned from suspension to start at left back, while Jamiro Monteiro returned to the 18 for the first time in a month after suffering an ankle sprain.

It took just three minutes for the Union to take the lead on Audi Field’s atrocious pitch. Wooten forced a turnover in D.C.’s defensive half and found Marco Fabian in the box. Fabian laid the ball off to the charging Alejandro Bedoya, whose hit from outside the box beat United keeper Bill Hamid at his far post. Bedoya celebrated his third goal of the season by running to the on-field microphone and, in the wake of this weekend’s tragic shootings in El Paso, Texas and Dayton, Ohio, encouraging Congress to pass legislation to end gun violence.

The Union dominated the early stretch of the match, dragging United all over the pitch. Jack Elliott came close to doubling the lead in the 20th minute when a good Union attack ended with a cross into the box from Wooten. Elliott’s close range header forced a strong save from Hamid at full stretch. Kacper Przybylko drew another save on a shot from the top of the box just moments later. At the 30-minute mark, the Union had twelve shots to D.C.’s zero.

Philly turned their control of the match into one-man advantage through a vicious counterattack in the 40th minute. Fabian and Przybylko broke off a United corner, ending with Junior Moreno dragging Przybylko down with the striker in on goal for a Union penalty. Although referee Armando Villarreal initially gave a yellow to Moreno, after a VAR check the call was converted to a straight red. Przybylko, who had not taken a penalty in the season so far, fired his spot kick well over the crossbar, squandering a golden opportunity to double the Union’s lead.

It would not take long for the Union to make up for the penalty miss. Haris Medunjanin, with all the time in the world, played Wagner in on the overlap. The German left back put a low ball toward the penalty spot, where it found Fabian’s foot. His one-time finish was a howitzer, giving Hamid no chance to make the save. It was easily Fabian’s best half in a Union shirt.

Philadelphia made it a three-goal lead early in the second half. The hosts, who struggled to deal with the Union’s pressure all night long, turned it over yet again in their own half, where Creavalle picked up the ball and charged toward the box. The veteran midfielder found Przybylko, whose quality finish found the far corner. It was the tenth goal of the season for the big striker, and it seemed to be the final nail in D.C.’s coffin.

But — fitting for a team dressed in red and black — United behaved more like an undead team than a dead one. Substitute Chris Odoi-Atsem almost immediately won a foul on Collin, and the ensuing free kick was a good one. Andre Blake saved Steve Birnbaum’s initial header but couldn’t completely control the rebound, and Frederic Brilliant poked it past Blake and Jack Elliott for D.C.’s first goal.

The Union responded by introducing Jamiro Monteiro for Creavalle, giving the midfielder his first action after missing four matches. Emboldened by their goal, DC had a pair of gilt-edged chances to cut the lead to one, but Paul Arriola missed the Union’s net on consecutive attempts.

Marco Fabian slammed the door with his second goal of the night in the 70th minute. Played into the box by Medunjanin, Fabian created space and slammed a shot at Hamid’s goal. Thanks to a deflection off a D.C. defender, it went into the back of the net.

The Union added insult to D.C.’s injury with a 90th minute goal. At the end of a slick move, Ilsinho found substitute Fafa Picault with a sweet pass inside the box, and Picault’s finish beat Hamid to his near post.

As Audi Field slowly emptied, the Sons of Ben rejoiced long and loud.

With the win, the Union retain first place, keeping a three-point lead over Atlanta United. Philadelphia returns home next Sunday to play host to the struggling Houston Dynamo. Kickoff at Talen Energy Stadium is at 6:00 p.m.

Three points
  • Well, I’m gonna start fast. The Union came out like a team furious with recent results, scoring in the third minute and never giving United a chance to get into the game. A great response to the Montreal match.
  • Then I’m gonna run fast in the middle. Despite a huge advantage in shots, it was only 1-0 as halftime inched closer. Philly got D.C. down to ten men with a vicious counterattack and picked up the second goal they deserved a few moments later.
  • Then I’m gonna end fast. Przybylko’s goal, early in the second half, gave the Union the sort of cushion you love to have, and Philly saw out the game with only one or two moments of danger — a professional performance from a first-place team.

Philadelphia Union
Andre Blake; Kai Wagner, Aurelien Collin, Jack Elliott, Raymon Gaddis; Haris Medunjanin, Warren Creavalle (Jamiro Monteiro 56′), Alejandro Bedoya, Marco Fabian; Andrew Wooten, Kacper Przybylko
Unused Subs: Joe Bendik, RJ Allen, Auston Trusty, Brenden Aaronson, Jamiro Monteiro, Ilsinho, Fafa Picault

D.C. United
Bill Hamid; Leonardo Jara, Frederic Brilliant, Donovan Pines (Chris Odoi-Atsem 52′), Steven Birnbaum, Lucas Rodriguez; Paul Arriola, Chris Durkin (Joseph Mora 16′), Junior Moreno, Luciano Acosta, Wayne Rooney
Unused Subs: Chris Seitz, Marquinhos Pedroso, Jalen Robinson, Ulises Segura, Quincy Amarikwa

Scoring Summary
PHL: Alejandro Bedoya — 3′ (Marco Fabian, Andrew Wooten)
PHL: Marco Fabian — 45 + 2′ (Kai Wagner, Haris Medunjanin)
PHL: Kacper Przybylko — 52′ (Warren Creavalle)
DC: Frederic Brilliant — 54′
PHL: Marco Fabian — 70′ (Haris Medunjanin)
PHL: Fafa Picault — 90′ (Ilsinho, Jamiro Monteiro)

Disciplinary Summary
PHI: Haris Medunjanin — 25′ (unsporting behavior)
PHI: Alejandro Bedoya — 31′ (unsporting behavior)
DC: Junior Moreno — 40′ (red) (denial of obvious goalscoring opportunity)
PHI: Marco Fabián — 42′ (unsporting behavior)
PHI: Aurelien Collin — 53′ (unsporting behavior)


  1. Andy Muenz says:

    Third straight 4 goal difference on the road for the Union but this one was a little sweeter. What a difference having Wagner in there, Wooten getting involved, and Monteiro getting some minutes made! The defense still could sharpen up, but overall I’ll take it.
    Stat of the night was that the Union had 14 shots on target (and 26 overall). Nice to see them shoot and shoot and shoot.
    Highlight/lowlight of the match was Ale’s microphone grab. Highlight because it was well done. Lowlight because it was so necessary.
    Next 3 games are now huge for the Union as all 3 of their opponents have midweek games and significant travel before playing the Union on the weekend.

  2. OneManWolfpack says:

    Showed up on national TV, in a massive game… I’m beyond impressed. Smart changes from Curtin. Good attacking play. Started fast. Just an all around ass kicking. A most excellent night. Well deserved and we’ll earned.
    And good stuff from the captain. I’ll be glad to support a Go Fund Me for his fine… should there be one.

    • “Smart changes from Curtin. “
      This is worth highlighting, for me. I was quite unimpressed by Warren Creavalle getting the start over Anthony Fontana. Creavalle proved me wrong by playing quite well.
      My only beef with the lineup otherwise… If we went into that lineup knowing Wooten, Creavalle, and Fabian would be the players subbed off – especially if it was because we knew they couldn’t go a full 90 – I’m not sure I like that as a game plan. That leaves you no margin of error, whether it’s because of an injury to another player or just a tactical change you think is necessary. I can’t quibble too much, obviously, given they crushed DC 5-1.

      • Andy Muenz says:

        Fabian went the full 90 against Montreal so I think he could have gone longer. More likely Curtin thought he was the one most likely to do something stupid and pick up a second yellow. My guess is that if absolutely necessary, Wooten could have gone 90 as well, just not pressing as much or getting back on defense.
        Creavalle probably wasn’t in 90 minute condition as a midfielder, but even if he was, getting Monteiro some minutes was hugely important.

  3. John O'Donnell Jr says:

    Right time for Fabián to get healthy as he gives his first DP quality performance.
    Curtin’s lineup choices surprising and proved right.
    Warren Creavalle and Aurelien Collin gave quality MLS veteran minutes as Aaronson and Trusty needed a rest.
    Most wins on the road in a season for this team I believe.
    Highly entertaining game….much more please!

  4. Congrats to all. Props to the captain.

  5. el Pachyderm says:

    Truth—— If this team intends on maintaining integrity of the position they’ve built and making some noise in the postseason, the Homegrowns will need to sit.
    Jim is in a very interesting position and how he manages the next three months is the storyline.
    Congrats on pounding a team that was willing to be pounded…. AND making a provocative national security statement in the nation’s Capitol while doing it.

  6. In Tanner We Trust says:

    No matter what Marco does in the next few games, let’s cut down on the negativity. He’s playing like he wants to be here. And he dominated possession for good measure with excellent control.

    So happy to have Monty back. Wagner was also great as expected. Wooten looked rusty but very threatening.

    It was mentioned above but doing this on national tv, putting a talented team out of their misery, was so satisfying.

    • In Tanner We Trust says:

      Forgot to add, and also mentioned above. Couldn’t have done this without Creavalle and Collin, but mainly Creavalle. Doubt we’ll ever see him take a shot in any way, but he created a lot of headaches for DC.

    • Agree. I’ve been backing Fabian and think he will get better still. Kudos to Cutting as well for pushing the right buttons. What a match for Warren Creavalle!

  7. Congratulations to all including Marisa Pilla! Nice job

  8. I like this lineup. I’d like to keep it till Miro is 100%. Wagner was impressive. Warren too. Crisp passing and a hunger I haven’t seen recently. So good.

    If we balance it right, we’ll be firing on all cylinders in time for the playoffs.

  9. Is it time to set up a go fund me page to raise the transfer fee for Monteiro?

    • Agreed! Our record with him on the pitch shows how important Miro is to the U. It would be a crime to just let him go. If Sugardaddy won’t open his wallet, I would gladly give to a funding drive…

  10. Old Soccer Coach says:

    To follow up Andy Meunz’s point above, it is Worth noting that of 11 starters, only five were not international slot holders – Bedoya, Creavalle, Gaddis and Collin and Wooten, with the latter two being European born, bred and trained.
    And two other internationals of the official international nine came on as substitutes – Ilsinho and Monteiro. Santos is hurt currently.
    Burke is “unavailable” and Ngalina is “on loan” as per the July 26 version of the roster on the MLS website, to account for all of them.
    Given that Bedoya played a lot overseas, there is a clear pattern emerging to the composition of the team.

    • Old Soccer Coach says:

      Correction, Ilsinho has a green card now. Rework the numbers. But my underlying point stands. Precious few US of A born, bred and trained. Only Creavalle and Gaddis have played only in MLS as professionals, of the 14 DC match participants.

      • John O'Donnell Jr says:

        Andre Blake came from the college draft as the number one overall pick. I could be wrong but wouldn’t he be considered an amateur before being drafted and has only played professionally for the Union?

    • Old Soccer Coach says:

      Yes, but he is Jamaica’s captain, and learned down on the island.

  11. Union played like they belong in first place in the East. Marcos best game so far. Needs to play with that intensity every game. Excellent work rate tonight. Played both ways and was active the entire match. Lots of post season hope if Montiero stays healthy and Marco Plays with this intensity. Stay healthy. PS Creavalle did a nice job disrupting play and starting the attack several times. His best game ever. Wagner is a must resign. Everyone played at a 5 or better.

  12. Great 3 points. I give Jim credit for trying to find some answers and changing it up with Craeville and Collin. Fabian had his best match for the Union as well, he even pressed a little without the ball tonight…..maybe as match fitness comes we will see more of that. Only negative: man we live dangerously with that high line…..a better club punishes us a few times. And they are all route one balls we get caught on, there shouldn’t be a reason for that……..seriously, long balls from the keeper catching our back four over the top……that needs to be cleaned up. End rant, well done boys. And go get em Bedoya!

    • Andy Muenz says:

      Getting beaten on the long balls are partially attributable to the difference in speed between Trusty and Collin.

      • No doubt, while we were pounding DC my mind was thinking of the CBs for the homestretch. Collin is clearly a liability with pace, with little recovery pace……but his positioning is usually pretty spot on, he knows the dark arts well to not get caught, and he’s a grizzled vet…better with the ball than Elliott and Trusty. I thought that is why Trusty might have been the better pairing to provide that recovery pace. I think you need Collin back there for the playoff push….I guess who to pair him with is the question. One thing is for sure, sides with pace will exploit that if it’s not solved.

  13. Great win by the U. We definitely needed this. A few points.
    1. Although we creamed DC, the amount of turnovers and lack of possession after gaining a comfortable lead and being up a man was very concerning. DC to their credit made a strong push to try to come back. The union need to show more quality and maturity with possession. This will be key if we ever want to have a chance against LAFC.
    2. Can we all agree now that Collin is better fit for this first team then Trusty?? He disrupted Rooney a lot this game. He Disrupted DCs offense and had many clearances. Most importantly, he holds down and commands the backline. They always look more comfortable when Collin is in.
    3. They should have tried to score as many goals possible for goal differential. Also, they definitely need the work at possessing and creating dangerous scoring opportunities. I feel like they were playing around too much up top at the end of the game. Overall , great game and they need to keep this type of aggressive play into the post season. Cmon the U!!!!

    • Andy Muenz says:

      Collin and Trusty each have their own advantages. Clearly Collin has more experience and is probably the better choice against someone like Looney, but there are also a lot of balls Trusty will get to where Collin will be a step or two late.
      Goal differential doesn’t appear to be too big a deal at this point since wins is the first tiebreaker.

      • Yea true on your second point. Idk Trusty isn’t fast either and gets caught out of position a lot. From what I’ve seen, he’s also weak one v one. I think he needs to be a sub. Don’t get me wrong, he’s done some good this season for sure. Playing almost every minute of every match, he better have haha. I also don’t think he’s the worst defender but when it’s crunch time and playoff time he doesn’t have a good record. I’m
        Just not happy from what I’ve seen from him. Collin is the guy in my opinion

  14. Andy Muenz says:

    With Seattle’s loss last night, the Union are now in 2nd leaguewide in PPG. Of course the points difference between LAFC and second place in the west is larger than the difference between Philly and 9th place in the east (and was the same as between Philly/Atlanta and 11th place before last night’s game).

    • Old Soccer Coach says:

      Struck me that Fabian seemed half a step faster last night.
      We all need to remember that DCU’s first choice defensive center mid was out and their second choice went off hurt very early. The fact helps explain why we went down their central channel with small-sided one-touch play almost at Will.

  15. Great win by the boys. Couldn’t watch so I won’t comment on individual play. Just immensely pleased by the result. Nice to change up the D and it seemed to work. 4 of 5 games are at home against tough teams. DC especially will be playing for revenge and a playoff spot. Gonna be tough road this final 8 weeks. Hopefully Fabián has found his mojo and Monteiro gets back to full health down the final stretch. One issue though, its a philly thing, what’s with the PK’s. Can we find a guy to sort this problem, which it is. Seba can coach them.

  16. Must have been fun writing this Match Report. Was tons of fun watching the game. Finally an away game that showed the national audience that the Union is for real. Too bad it is the only appearance on national TV; DC is on again next weekend!
    Good article by Jason Gay. Too bad so many criticize him and Ale, saying sports are there to escape from reality; let these people play video games! https://www.wsj.com/articles/sticking-to-sports-vs-being-a-person-in-the-world-11565009629?mod=hp_listc_pos1

  17. I got annoyed at the defensive complacency in the middle of the second half. (What was with that?? Just getting cocky??) But even when DC almost scored #2, I said to my son, “Doesn’t matter. We’ll score more against these punks.”

    Was shocked to see Creavalle start, but impressed with how well he integrated into the role and the pace of play.

    All in all a truly impressive beat-down. On the road, no less. The Union have one of the league’s best road records.

    Oh — and I knew folks were giving up on Fabian too soon. (But I was nearly as impressed with Medunjanin, who was given lots of time on the ball and just picked DC apart with surgical precision.)

  18. Wonderful showing by the team. The changes made by Curtin worked. Both the defense and offense were improved. The offensive movement was as good as it’s been all year. Marco played really well I have to admit. I wish he had laid the pass off to Bedoya in the 61st minute instead of trying to pass across two defenders, but that’s nit-picking. Awesome game from Fabian. Still a few defensive lapses but overall a great win.

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