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

Photo: Marjorie Elzey

The Union came from behind Saturday evening in the capital to salvage a point against D.C. United, after a frightening first half and coming off back-to-back losses at home.

The Union’s lineup differed slightly from what they’ve started with in earlier matches this season, including Leon Flach at the midfield. Having been injured for most of this year, Flach saw his first nod to the starting lineup since August 30. Additionally, Andrew Rick saw the bench for the first time with a first-team contract due to a lingering knee injury for Andre Blake. The Union consumed his fourth and final short-term call-up on Tuesday’s rescheduled match against Seattle.

Philadelphia hangs on by a thread through the first

In the ninth minute, Flach gave the ball up on a turnover and remained out of position for D.C.’s Cristian Dájome to open the scoring off of a cross. Flach’s position and ball retention in the first half failed to live up to the expectations of a player praised to be of national team quality. 

Julián Carranza received a yellow card for a foul on an attacking corner in the 20th minute. Being his fifth of the season, he is suspended for their next match due to yellow card accumulation. 

D.C. dominated possession for most of the half, moving the ball around outside of the box in hopes of finding another opening. Damien Lowe held the line at center back to clear multiple aerial balls aimed at Christian Benteke. 

Jack McGlynn won the ball at midfield and dribbled to the outside of the 18 to draw a foul. Carranza hit the bar on the free kick, narrowly missing the equalizer in the 30th minute.

Three minutes later, Jakob Glesnes and Nate Harriel were beaten by Jacob Murrel, who scored his first goal for D.C. United from outside the box. 

Alejandro Bedoya got one back for Philly in the 42nd minute off of a restart from Wagner. D.C. goalkeeper Alex Bono was stepped on by one of his defenders in the aftermath, holding his leg. 

On a foul from behind, Flach received a yellow card. Lowe also picked up a yellow for poor sportsmanship after kicking the ball away. The Union went to the locker room at halftime with a chance to get even. 

Second Half

Coming out in the second half, Quinn Sullivan caught Bono off his line and tried to chip him. The keeper got a hand to it and sent it over the crossbar for a corner.

Aside from that, Philadelphia’s attacking play didn’t connect in the earlier minutes of the second half. Crosses coming from Bedoya in the wing found the feet of D.C. defenders, and Carranza’s shots were easily blocked. 

Carranza narrowly avoided a second yellow in the 68th minute for a foul at midfield, directly in front of the fourth official.

Harriel had a brilliant defensive header in the 72nd minute, sparing the Union from falling down another goal. José Martínez, tasked with clearing the ball from the box, was stepped on by Dájome shortly after entering the match. He remained on the sideline for two minutes, per the new league rule. 

McGlynn equalized in the 79th minute with his magical left foot, finding the upper 90 from well outside the box. Had it not been for this clean strike finding the back of the net, Philly likely would’ve faced their third loss in eight days.


Three Points:
  • Leon Flach’s Return: He played exactly like someone who hasn’t seen the field since November. He will need to improve greatly over the next few weeks to get back into form and relieve an aging Bedoya from playing 90-plus minutes.
  • Continuing to Conceed: It’s frustrating to see the Union give up multiple goals against a team they’ve outscored so drastically in the last few years. For a team that used to live on clean sheets, poor communication in the defensive third is having a strong negative impact. Can the Union regain their defensive form, or will they be shopping for defensive-minded players this summer?
  • Homegrown Success: Harriel played well on both sides of the ball tonight. He shut down Benteke completely and made several runs into the box. Meanwhile, McGlynn’s goal saved the Union a point on the road. 

Oliver Semmle, Kai Wagner, Damien Lowe, Jakob Glesnes, Nathan Harriel, Jack McGlynn, Alejandro Bedoya, Leon Flach (José Martínez 66’), Quinn Sullivan (Mikeal Uhre 66’), Daniel Gazdag, Julián Carranza

Unused subs: Andrew Rick, Jack Elliott, Jesús Bueno, Jeremy Rafanello, Tai Baribo, Chris Donovan

D.C. United

Alex Bono, Cristian Dájome (Kristian Fletcher 85’), Lucas Bartlett, Christopher McVey, Aaron Herrera, Matti Peltola, Mateusz Klich, Jackson Hopkins (Steven Birnbaum 74’), Jared Stroud, Jacob Murrell (Ted Ku-Dipietro 64’), Christian Benteke

Unused Subs: Matai Akinmboni, Tyler Miller, Gabriel Piriani, Martín Rodríguez, Pedro Santos, Garrison Tubbs

Scoring Summary:

DCU: Cristian Dájome– 9’’

DCU: Jacob Murrel–  33’

PHI: Alejandro Bedoya– 42’

PHI: Jack McGlynn– 79’


Discipline Summary:

PHI: Julián Carranza– 20’

PHI: Damien Lowe 45’+2

PHI: Leon Flach– 45’+2

DCU: Ted Ku-Dipietro– 92’

Referee: Ismir Pekmic



  1. I think Jim outthought himself tonight.
    I actually like McGlynn in a deeper role like we’ve seen with the YNT… but on this team he was too deep and on that first gol against… well we see his deficits in understanding defending.
    He could have tracked one of two runners possibly breaking up the run of play and tracked neither winding up in a Bermuda Triangle of his own making. Then that wonder strike which was rising the whole way only to knuckle at the last moment and duck the bar killing 2 spiders in the corner and saving a point.
    Poor Uhre. I feel bad for the lad. He’s not what I think I thought he was and I’m sure he thinks he thought he should be better too.
    I have a question for you all. Who’s the smartest player on the field?
    Alejandro Bedoya. Why is he not the 6 in Jose’s absence. I mean maybe he was in that 4-2-2-2-2-2 empty bucket we were forced to swallow for 2/3 of a game. Leaves me very curious. Play the diamond. Play Ale in the 6 with Leon, Jack and Gazdag…. then Quinn up top in his less favored spot but still effective cause he’s Quinn.
    We toil in 10th place. A point here and there. Miami scoring gols with former world class players like bullies picking off the unathletic kids in an 80’s dodgeball circle….by the way in my worldview you have to be playing against the best to be World Class.
    Night all.

    • Wracked Opinion says:

      Great points, el Pachyderm!

      Ale definitely shows a high game IQ.

      You ask a valid question: regarding the potential for subbing him in Martinez’s absence.

      Hard to be excited for the upcoming match-up against MIA.

      Unfortunately currently the Union’s defensive capability is waning: from miscommunication, plus ball-watching.

      Furthermore, overall the Union looks and feels disjointed on all levels.

      To my eyes it seems that they are not that doggedly pressing team that they were at the height of their play in recent years.

      Perhaps age has caught up to this team?

      But what do I know?

      It’s still early in the season: so plenty of time for improvement.

      Hopefully the Union will end up being competitive with the ringers down at InterMiami.

    • Ale is easily the smartest player on the field. The guy just knows where to be. However, you are forgetting about the period a bunch of years ago, when he first showed up, and he was put into the #6 slot, and it really didn’t work well at all. It doesn’t utilize his skillset to best advantage on either end. So I don’t think that’s the answer. I think Bueno should plug in as the 6 when Martinez is unavailable. (Or, er, in the doghouse.)

      Totally agree with you about Jim outthinking himself. Taking out the linchpin of the defense AND switching to a flat 4-4-2 at the same time put too much stress on the players to know where to be.

      • Wracked Opinion says:

        Thanks for the reminder, Scottso!

        Hopefully they will get it together and improve their performance: by whatever means.

  2. Kieran M says:

    Alexandra- thank you for writing this up !
    Missed the match due to a funeral,
    Saw the highlights, really nice finish Ale , amazing goalazo Jack !

    A couple of wins in a row will bring us right back into the thick of it.

    Not sure what’s going to beat Miami and DeMaria coming in soon – Whoa !


  3. Union goal differential in first half’s this season (MLS only)
    Union goal differential in 2nd half’s only this season (MLS only)
    What a weird season…

  4. Soccerdad720 says:

    The yellow on carranza (I watched it back and forth a few times) looks totally bogus. Like complete simulation. Am I wrong?

    And the kid with the wonder strike! Wow. He’s gone in this summers transfer window I hope (for his sake…not ours).

    Yeah, the wonder strike gets us a point and without that…meh?…does it even out the wonder strike against us a few weeks back? Soccer is a wonderful game ain’t it?

    • No, you’re not wrong. Klich was shithousing Carranza, grabbing, pushing, trying to wind him up, and Julian was stupid enough to respond and get caught lightly pushing him off letting Klich make a meal out of it.
      This is exactly the sort of crap to which people who hate the game point.

      Click to Edit –

  5. Blake Zuschnitt says:

    PSV won the Eredivisie today, its first in six seasons. Earnie Stewart is the sporting director there. They went 28-3-1 in league play. Heck of an achievement for the club and for Stewart.

  6. It was damp and cold there, but thankfully the rain turned to a misty drizzle. The wet pitch slowed down dribbling and passing. The team should have adjusted better to that.
    . . .
    McGlynn’s shooting mechanics were perfect hence the golazo. I’ve said it a gazillion times before, but he got over the ball with his head down, whereas Uhre skied a similar shot because he picked his head up–again–trying to watch his shot happen. Baseball, golf, soccer….we all know what happens when you pick your head up when following through. C’mon Curtin…coach this basic stuff to drill out bad habits versus good ones.

    I’m glad we salvaged a point from the hole we dug again. This week was looking like Eaglesitis, going from undefeated to implosion. But even when undefeated, we’ve drawn too many matches, a past problem still here.
    . . .
    A point is better than losing, but not much with too many draws. It takes 3 draws to equal just 1 win. That’s putting us well down the table where we’re fighting to make the playoffs. Our bad habit of giving up early goals came back this week. That’s another issue requiring immediate attention.

    • One could argue this is the behest of the player. IMO coach Curtin has more pressing concerns than Uhre’s shooting mechanics.
      I do not believe the coach is not responsible for individual mechanics.

      • Tradecraft is certainly the primary responsibility of a professional player but a coach oversees it. You can’t coach speed, height, etc, but tradecraft is within control.
        . . .
        Uhre should know that, but Curtin ought to call out the problem where existing.

  7. Here are a couple of observations from last night’s match on Crapple:

    1) Are the Union ever going to score first? It seems like forever since they have done so.
    2) Yes, Ale Bedoya is the smartest guy on the field and someday he is going to be a successful coach. But he is most effective playing 45-60 minutes and I fear that if he is not so restricted this season, he will get injured and become unavailable.
    3) It is not a stroke of luck when Jack McGlynn scores from distance with his left foot. He has a lot of power and accuracy in that leg!
    4) This was a decent result on the road. Hopefully the Union can defend their home turf better in the coming matches.

    • Wracked Opinion says:

      As a practical matter, I agree with you regarding limiting Ale’s minutes, Narbrich!

      No shame in asserting and admitting that he’s best not be used as a 90 min player at this point.

  8. John P. O'Donnell says:

    Mediocre. Three wins in ten games and just when they found some form they had a bye and the team has no hunger or form until they get down in the game. Meh

  9. We find ourselves in a league where the skill level is so high that we consistently see golazos occur often and make a difference. Through balls are much more precise and then finishing skills are generally better. Why do I start with this?

    Because it’s time we rethink what and who we use on defense and finishing. After watching this season and even the end of last year, it is apparent that the innate athletic ability of our central defense (other than Damian) is lacking and it is hurting us. We can discuss lack of focus, etc. which may be true but in the end we are getting out matched skill wise. I think that both Elliott and Glesnes are fine defenders but don’t have the physicality or athleticism to match our opponents. Leon provided that added piece to help Martinez. However, Leon is not really match ready though can’t argue with Jim putting him in. Given the team we currently have, not sure what Jim can do. Normally, I would suggest putting Harriel and Lowe together in the back. However, we can’t have Mbaizo out there anymore, so that’s an issue.

    We all can agree that Julian is an excellent striker and works hard. Lately though, his passing has been terrible. Is it being out of synch, mind elsewhere or what? He has to be on his A game both passing and striking for us to win. He hasn’t been. I had high hopes for Marcus Anderson but he is hurt now and from all accounts (after I thought a great start) had been regressing a bit. Is that due to him or what coaching staff are trying to change in him? I hate to say it but it’s time to start Tai and see where that goes. We spend a fortune on him and regardless of his practice focus (i.e. Alan Iverson) the dude needs to play. Let’s find out if he can deliver once and for all. Then cut him with the new MLS rule in July if it doesn’t work out. Seems silly to not give it a shot.

    It’s apparent that running it back with the same squad was a bad decision. Team is getting older and other teams are getting more skilled. Commend the team for their heart. How easy would it be to give up 3 down or 2 down last two weeks? I will say one final thought and duck!!! I think we need to acknowledge that Blake’s better days are behind him and he isn’t the same goalkeeper we have had for what seems like a lifetime, injuries notwithstanding. Wish we had kept Matt Freeze. I hope he stays but we also have to be realistic. We have had several goals let in that the younger Blake would have saved. Enuff said.

  10. It’s interesting because this game I was about to turn off but glad I didn’t. It was a good but not acceptable comeback.

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