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Match report: Philadelphia Union 3-1 D.C. United

photo: 215-pix

Kacper Przybylko, Brenden Aaronson, and Ilsinho were all on target as the Philadelphia Union defeated D.C. United 3-1 at Talen Energy Stadium. All three Union goals came before halftime as the home side were rampant in the first 45 minutes. Luciano Acosta pulled back a consolation goal for the visitors with a strong individual effort in the 56th minute.

Jim Curtin altered his formation to a 4-2-3-1 after last week’s loss in Chicago. Ilsinho and Brendan Aaronson came in to play alongside Jamiro Monteiro while Marco Fabian and Warren Creavalle moved to the bench. Mark McKenzie made his first start of the season, preferred over Aurelien Collin.

The Union would take the lead in just the 5th minute. Kai Wagner had room to move down the left side with the ball, played a pass into the feet of Brendan Aaronson, who took a touch and played back to Wagner on the over lap. Wagner then slid a perfect pass in on the ground that Przybylko deftly touched in at the near post past Bill Hamid.

Philadelphia would double their lead on 16 minutes. Przybylko did well to beat his man in the midfield and rolled a pass into Aaronson, who just tiptoed the offside line. With only Hamid to beat, the teenager slid a confident left footed shot under the goalkeeper for his second goal of the year.

Ilsinho would add a third for the Union in the 36th minute. It was again strong work by Przybylko to hold the ball up after a great cross field ball from Monteiro. The striker waited for Ilsinho to drift open before slotting a pass into him on the right corner of the box. From there, Ilsinho was one on one with Junior Moreno, who easily drifted past before slotting in under a helpless Bill Hamid.

D.C. would pull a goal back in the 56th minute through Acosta. The midfielder drifted into the box on the ball, nutmegged Jack Elliott and then poked home past Andre Blake from 7 yards out.

United were much improved as the second half wore on but failed to find another breakthrough and the match finished 3-1.

The match was Union Alumni night as the team welcomed back players from their first 10 years. Danny Califf, Sheanon Williams, Tranquillo Barnetta, and Sebastian Le Toux received some of the loudest cheers.

Announced attendance was 18,781. It was the highest attendance of the season and the fifth sellout. The Union are at home again next Saturday for a clash at the top of the Eastern Conference against Atlanta United (7:30 p.m.).

Three Points

  • What a half – The Union were absolutely dominant through 45 minutes, scoring three goals and dictating play. Przybylko, Aaronson, and Monteiro were virtually unplayable in that time.
  • The kids are alright – The match was the strongest performance we’ve seen from Brenden Aaronson in some time. Mark McKenzie looked perfectly comfortable in his first start of the season.
  • The downside – Alejandro Bedoya’s yellow card in the 73rd minute means that he will be suspended for the top of the conference clash with Atlanta United next Saturday.

Line Ups

Philadelphia Union
Andre Blake, Kai Wagner, Jack Elliott, Ray Gaddis, Haris Medunjanin, Alejandro Bedoya, Jamiro Monteiro (Warren Creavalle 87′), Brenden Aaronson (Fafa Picault 74′), Ilsinho (Marco Fabian 70′), Kacper Przybylko
Subs: Joe Bendik, R.J. Allen, Aurelien Collin, Andrew Wooten

D.C. United
Bill Hamid, Frederic Brillant, Joseph Mora, Leonardo Jara, Steven Birnbaum, Junior Moreno, Ulises Segura, Felipe (Lucas Rodriguez 79′), Luciano Acosta, Paul Arriola (Emmanuel Boateng 69′), Ola Kamara (Quincy Amarikwa 64′)
Subs: Chris Seitz, Gordon Wild, Donovan Pines, Marquinhos Pedroso

Scoring Summary
PHI: Kacper Przybylko – 5′ (Kai Wagner, Brenden Aaronson)
PHI: Brenden Aaronson – 16′ (Kacper Przybylko)
PHI: Ilsinho – 36′ (Kacper Przybylko)
DC: Luciano Acosta – 56′

Disciplinary Summary
DC: Paul Arriola -21′ (unsporting behavior)
PHI: Alejandro Bedoya – 73′ (unsporting behavior)
DC: Leonardo Jara – 90+3′ (unsporting behavior)


  1. el Pachyderm says:

    Just throttled a hapless team tonight then let them back in the game like Andy Reid when he’d take his foot off the gas pedal. All in all, not going to bemoan too much however as they took care of business on a spirited night down the river.
    Now the only acceptable outcome is to beat Atlanta…. Have to beat Atlanta- in the worst way- want those 3 points..already counting the minutes til the game.

  2. Great first half. Subpar second half that won’t be good enough next week. Ale has to be smarter and not give the ref a chance to give him a yellow when they are up two goals. His absence may prove costly against Atlanta.

  3. I’m left wondering how the sensational team of the first half fell off so much in the second. Lack of killer instinct? The sense that the job was done? Or was that level too intense for an older squad? Perhaps some of both…. While I thoroughly enjoyed that win, I’m sure even the players will feel they can’t afford a performance like that 2nd half against Atlanta.

  4. In Tanner We Trust says:

    I think the 2nd half struggle could’ve been fatigue. Ilsinho was surprisingly good as a starter, but it’s impossible to expect him to hustle for 90. It appeared they wanted Marco fresh for ATL and especially with Bedoya out now, everyone seeming to take their foot off the gas works to our benefit. Atlanta will be exhausted against a fresh team in front of a ridiculous crowd. As El P said above, anything less than a win is unacceptable!

  5. OneManWolfpack says:

    So mad Bedoya is missing next week. Such an integral part of the midfield. Just sucks we won’t have a our full lineup available. I’m not making an excuse for anything, just ranting he can’t play.
    Anyway… this team needs to learn to play with a lead. Up 3-0, DC should’ve never been allowed to have anything. Better teams, ie: Atlanta, will make you really pay.
    McKenzie looked good and good on Curtin for getting him back in there.
    Great crowd tonight. Great atmosphere down there. Hope it’s even better next week. Amped up for Atlanta.

  6. I love people. Seriously, they just beat another playoff team 3-1 and it was a simple, effortless win. Yet people are saying “what happened in the second half?” You know what happened? They won. They put the game to bed. Do you remember who this team used to be? This is what good teams do. Settle down.
    As for ATL, I want all 3 points, but both PHL and ATL would settle for a point.
    Enjoy the ride, people. Settle down. Recognize who they are and what is realistic.

    • el Pachyderm says:

      Actually, with respect, when a team is tied for the conference lead this late in the season, goal differential becomes more of a thing. They could have hung six on DC tonight and cut in to the -10 goal differential. DC was getting pounded that badly.
      I remember well who this team was. It matters not to me. Right now, it’s who this team is going to be that matters.

      • Andy Muenz says:

        Actually, goal differential is essentially meaningless at this point. Wins is the first tiebreaker so both teams would need identical records and not just the same number of points.
        In order for this to happen with Atlanta, they’d need to draw 3 of their remaining 6 games that aren’t against the Union. In order for GD to make a difference against NYCFC, the Union would need to draw 2 of their remaining 5 that aren’t against NYCFC. NYRB is the only team where goal differential is realistically likely to matter (since the Union more than +10 against everyone else lower in the standing where there could be a tie).

      • el Pachyderm says:

        Well shit, Andy- color me, corrected. Well done.

      • “Technically correct is the best kind of correct.” – Hermes Conrad’s boss

    • Fair point, pragmatist, but I generally don’t see much use in coming on here to post “yee-haw, that was some win!” I know a bit of nitpicking can seem like prime Negadelphian, but I think the question we should all have after that match is what happened to that scintillating team of the first half. The Union looked like Manchester City in that first half. Why did they fall off so sharply?

    • Prag, I hear what you’re saying, but if the Union give up possession in the middle of the pitch again like they did it will surely be a different outcome against ATL. Remember they just need a simple turn over from the U to make a quick pass to find Martinez and then it’s trouble. I wonder what the outcome wouldn’t have been like with Rooney controlling the middle of the pitch in the second half……

  7. Was very happy to see us put DC to the sword right away. Finally my wish came true and Curtin started Aaronson. Though he has plenty of faults, I like the way his speed disrupts other team’s flow at times. And he’s a good complement to Monteiro. Will be interesting who starts next week now that Bedoya is out. I assume Fabian will start this time. Hat goes off to Kasper for an outstanding match! Watched a majority of Atlanta’s last 2 matches. There’s absolutely no reason we can’t score on them, their defense isn’t overwhelmingly special. However, the transition game (like LAFC’s) is deadly. And Martinez knows how to put the ball in the net…obviously…12 straight games!?!

  8. Micah Bertin says:

    Brendan showing he deserves to be in the XI. Not just the goal, great as it was. He has such a good touch and is generally very quick and precise with his passing.

    What I think sometimes gets overlooked is his defensive contribution. He is an annoying gnat on steroids.

    • Micah Bertin says:

      Damn, sorry for double-posting part of my comments.

    • In Tanner We Trust says:

      I think you need a speedy defensive midfield to make up for Bedoya. It’s NOT the week to start Ilsinho. I’m thinking Monteiro, Aaronson, Fabian, Fontana. Haris needs Bedoya’s motor to hide his defensive limitations. To your point, Brenden’s harrassment is in a league of its own. Let him harass ATL for 65 min then bring Ilsinho in to attack the tired legs.

      • Andy Muenz says:

        No way Harris doesn’t play next week. For better or worse, Curtin will want his leadership there.

      • In Tanner We Trust says:

        I agree. Honestly, I wouldn’t mind seeing Creavalle at the 6 either. Our midfield depth shows with Marco and Monty finally healthy at the same time. This is why we were all saying how great the depth is earlier in the year. Not having our captain certainly hurts, but it’s not as catastrophic as it would’ve been in years past.

  9. Micah Bertin says:

    Brendan showing he deserves to be in the XI. Not just the goal, great as it was. He has such a good touch and is so quick and precise with his passing.

    And what I think sometimes gets overlooked is his defensive contribution. He is an annoying gnat on steroids. Love it.

    The most disappointing part of the evening was how the DC supporters group completely dominated the sound of the evening. Their snare drums cut through, dominated, and overpowered anything the sons of Ben could do. We need to either ban snare drums from visiting team fans, or next time we host DC, we need to get word to the Sons of Ben to bring out the heavy percussion artillery.

  10. Great night for a solid half of soccer. Really hope for a complete match next week.

  11. I missed Wooten in the game. Hope to see him next time in starting 11

  12. Old Soccer Coach says:

    McKenzie handled A good striker, Ola Kamari, very well. Elliott kept up with Acosta.
    Josef Martinez will increase the level of challenge.
    Parenthetically, isn’t PSG thankful their Acosta deal fell through!

  13. Andy Muenz says:

    Lines were long to meet most of the alumni, but I did get to say hi to the four with the shortest lines: Morgan Langley, J.T. Noone, Fred, and the one and only Tony Stahl!
    I think I made Langley’s night by telling him that I remember the game he played for the Union (against Columbus in 2011).

  14. Great match last night and excellent atmosphere. It doesn’t seem to matter what lineup or formation we use against DC these days we just pummel them. Curtin managed the game very well. Heartbroken for Ale to miss next week. He’s probably been waiting for a game like this since he came here. I’m guessing if it was 3-0 after 60-65 minutes Ale would’ve come off. I’m very conflicted on what I think we should do vs Atlanta lineup wise. On one hand it would be smart to play the 4-4-2 diamond since Atlanta plays 3 at the back. On the other hand we just crushed DC with a 4-2-3-1 and could slot Creavalle in Ale’s spot. Curtin will have tough decisions to make but I say they just go for it against Atlanta. You can’t sit back against excellent offensive teams because they’ll eventually pick you off. We’re pretty close to locking up a home playoff game. Lets have some fun and go right after these guys. Hopefully the stadium is electric next weekend. The season has been a lot of fun and it feels like we are just playing with house money right now. Keep this ride going.

    • In Tanner We Trust says:

      I like Creavalle against Atl, but let’s not use DC as the grading curve. We were set back weeks cuz Curtin insisted on the same lineup that destroyed DC 5-1.

  15. Chris Gibbons says:

    Creavalle is a legend against Atlanta already. Bring him in for Ale for 60 and Fontana for the other 30.

    • In Tanner We Trust says:

      100% agree.
      Ray Jack McKenzie Kai
      Creavalle Haris
      Monteiro Marco Brenden
      And you have Fontana, Fafa, Ilsinho, Wooten as sub options. Deepest attack I think we’ve ever had.

      • Yep. This is the lineup. We need the 4-2-3-1 against Atlanta because Haris needs defensive help or the Five Stripes will pick us apart. Creavalle is definitely the best guy on the team to do that… other than Monteiro.

        So the only question for me is how you line up your midfield. Don’t forget that we need someone on the right side of the diamond who can get back on D when Ray gets caught… or else we just tell Ray not to push up against this team.

      • No diamond with the 4231. I think I’m in agreement that is the formation for this one though. Creavalle and Montiero would be more than enough cover for the few times Ray gets upfield. The concern would be on the left where Wagner gets further upfield more often, and Medunjanin offers no defensive help. I’d consider Fafa on the left as much for his speed getting back as getting forward. Knowing Jim and his “change as little as possible after a win” philosophy- whether it is strategically wise or not- we’ll get the exact same lineup as DC except Warren in for Bedoya. It would scare me to try to get another good start out of Illsinho- much better as a sub.

      • In Tanner We Trust says:

        To not start Fabian in the biggest game of the year would be a gigantic shocker. I can’t imagine that scenario.

  16. Andy Muenz says:

    Does anyone know if Fontana is healthy? Given that he wasn’t in the lineup last night, I was expecting that he would play for Bethlehem but he wasn’t in the lineup there either.
    The good news was that Santos started for Steel and looked good. The bad news is that he had a short night due to a scuffle and a red card.

    • In Tanner We Trust says:

      I’ve been thinking about his place on this team a lot. People gave up on him too quickly. It still looks pretty bleak, but I think they should bring him back next year, as long as the contract isn’t expensive.
      As for Fontana, I haven’t heard anything as to why he wasn’t playing last night. And that reminds me, I have to disagree with Collin in the 18 over Trusty. It’s close, but Trusty offers more in my humble opinion.

  17. So great first half coming out strong to try to put the game away early. However, they need to learn to hold possession when they have the lead. I see this being the #1 factor in beating ATL and LAFC. They cannot give up the ball in the middle of the pitch like they did in this past game. The high pressure when we don’t have the ball has worked all year and they need to do this again against ATL U as well. The key in making this work is Aaronson. He’s so quick when pressuring the opposing defense. He starts it all. He needs to start as the 10 from here out. If we see Fabian starting then we will probably lose this one. Fabian’s touch is bad ,his movement bad , his decision making has been poor too. Bedoya’s replacement should be Fontana or Creavalle. As fans we need to be the loudest we’ve ever been for this next match. Cmon boys in Blue!!!!

  18. Was thinking about the Bedoya suspension, and how it almost means they’d have to go to a 4-2-3-1, where you slide Montiero back to Ale’s spot next to Haris, and place Aaronson, Fabian, and Picault across the MF with Kacper leading the line. Standard fare at the back.

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