Poor showing for the Union in the final third leads to a loss in the Nation’s Capital.
Second-half goals by Yordy Reyna and Ramón Áliba gave D.C. United a 3-1 win over the Philadelphia Union Saturday night in another subpar performance by the Union on the road. The Union scored off a D.C. own goal midway through the first half that was cancelled out by Ola Kamara’s penalty kick over ten minutes later. The Union lost to D.C. for the first time in eleven games and are now winless on the road in their last eight.
The Union came out in a slight formation change, switching to a 4-3-2-1 with Alvas Powell in the right back slot after a strong performance against New York City FC and Jamiro Monteiro and Daniel Gazdag playing behind Kacper Przybylko as the lone striker. Without Sergio Santos and Ilsinho due to injury, the tweak allowed the Union to stay behind the ball and venture forward with more flexibility, but the attack never got going as D.C. carried much of the play led by their attacking trio of Edison Flores, Ola Kamara, and 18-year-old Kevin Paredes. Lancaster native Russel Canouse controlled the central midfield with Julian Gressel and Reyna pushing the game down the flanks.
D.C. United came out with more of the ball and the better chances in the opening minutes with Reyna clipping a shot over the bar in the first minute and Flores missing the far post by inches five minutes later. The home side nearly had the first goal in the twelfth minute when Canouse headed a ball across the goalmouth, but Jakob Glesnes cleared it away. D.C. thought they scored on the ensuing corner but an offside call negated a solid build-up on the short corner. Gressel had a good chance minutes later after an easy breakdown by D.C., but Andre Blake pushed his shot away. The D.C. onslaught continued when Andy Najar broke free a minute later, but Blake stacked the pads to deny his near post shot.
Despite being outplayed for much of the opening half, the Union scored the opener in the twenty-second minute. In a rare attack, Przybylko found Alejandro Bedoya free down the right side of the box, and D.C. defender Steven Birnbaum re-directed Bedoya’s cutback into the goal with his chest. With the lead, the Union relaxed a bit and gained more possession, but several minutes later, Blake made an incredible sprawling save to deny Reyna by pushing the ball out of the top corner.
Kamara pulled D.C. United level on a penalty kick in the thirty-sixth minute. After another D.C. attack, Powell appeared to get the ball and some of Reyes’ leg while attempting to clear. The tackle was initially waved away by referee Rubiel Vazquez but reversed after VAR review. The goal was Kamara’s twelfth of the season.
Reyna put D.C. United ahead four minutes into the second half when he knocked home the rebound after another amazing Blake save denied Kamara’s header from close range. D.C. carved through the Union defense again down the outside, and Kamara was able to beat Glesnes at the near post.
With the Union already missing Blake, Powell, Burke, Gazdag, Monteiro, Martinez, and Mbaizo to World Cup qualifiers next week against New England, they’ll also be without Jack Elliott, who picked up his fifth yellow in the second half.
The Union made two changes at the sixtieth minute with Cory Burke came on for Przybylko and Quinn Sullivan replaced Gazdag. The Union tried to fight back, but a couple half-chances with twenty minutes to go weren’t enough. Olivier Mbazio and Paxton Aaronson came on inside fifteen minutes, and the Union looked more comfortable going forward but failed to threaten late. Ábila added the third five minutes into second-half stoppage time when he dribbled around several Union defenders who had given up on a play that could have been offside except for Wagner keeping him on.
The Union finished the game with two shots on goal, and three of their ten shots came from attacking players in what was another poor showing in the final third. Meanwhile, Blake had six saves in the losing effort.
The Union will host MLS leaders New England Revolution next Friday at Subaru Park.
PHI- Birnbaum (OG) 22’
D.C.- Kamara (PK) 36’
D.C.- Reyna 49’
D.C.- Áliba 90’+5
D.C.- Najar 55’
PHI- Elliott 59’
Union: Blake, Powell (Mbaizo 73’), Elliott, Glesnes, Wagner, Martinez, Bedoya (Fontana 85’), Flach, Gazdag (Sullivan 60’), Monteiro (Aaronson 73’), Przybylko (Burke 60’)
Unused subs: Freese, Findlay, McGlynn, Davo,
D.C. United: Kempin, Najar, Birnbaum, Alfaro, Gressel (Brillant 78’), Moreno, Canouse, Reyna (Felipe 86’), Flores (Skundrich 50’), Kamara (Ábila 78’), Paredes (Mora 78’)
Unused subs: Seitz, Nyeman, Asad, Yow