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D.C. United squander early lead, lose 3-2 to Philadelphia Union

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D.C. United once again scored early, but in an all too familiar ending in Chester, Pennsylvania, lost 3-2 to the Philadelphia Union. After Zoltan Stieber put United ahead in the 7th minute, United were second best for the rest of the match, conceding an equalizer in the first half to Ilsinho, before conceding a winner to Borek Dockal in the 72nd minute.

CJ Sapong put the Union ahead in the 60th minute, but Darren Mattocks, as a substitute, equalized for United in the 70th minute. But Dockal’s winner two minutes later kept United without a win at Talen Energy Stadium since a 1-0 win in May 2014.

Two weeks after their 1-0 win over Columbus Crew SC, Ben Olsen made two changes to the starting lineup against the Union. Zoltan Stieber started in place of the suspended Paul Arriola, while Chris Durkin got the nod as the defensive midfielder, with Junion Moreno out with a hamstring injury.

After a few early chances for the Union, United for the second game in a row were ahead in the early stages. In the 7th minute, Ulises Segura forced a turnover in the Philadelphia half, deflecting a pass towards Yamil Asad. Asad one-timed a backheel to the middle of the field for Luciano Acosta, who then played into space in the box for Stieber. Stieber opened his hips and fired towards goal, as Andre Blake’s touch couldn’t keep the shot out.

That would be it for shots for United in the first half though, as they spent the rest of the half on the back foot. In the 11th minute, Ilsinho took a feed from David Accam and worked his way into the box, but blazed a shot over the goal. Three minutes later, Ilsinho tried to cross into the middle from the endline, but Clark was able to snatch the ball away from danger.

A long range effort from Sapong did little to trouble Clark in the 16th minute, and Nick DeLeon blocked a shot from Accam in the 27th minute, with Philadelphia unable to make anything of the resulting corner. Haris Medunjanin tried to test Clark from range in the 34th minute, but the ball bounced straight into Clark’s grasp.

But United couldn’t sustain much more pressure, and in the 37th minute, the Union had their equalizer through Ilsinho. Picking up the ball from a pass by Keegan Rosenberry, Ilsinho skated past Joseph Mora into the box, and tried to center the ball towards Sapong. The ball instead deflected off of Frederic Brillant’s foot, and rolled into the goal at the far post.

Dockal had one more chance for the Union to end the half, but his stinging effort in the 39th minute was held by a diving Clark.

It was more of the same in the second half, as the Union continued to dictate the proceedings of the game. But United were able to hold their lines, barely holding on to the scoreline.

That ended in the 60th minute though, when Sapong popped up for his fourth career goal against the Black-and-Red. United could only half clear a corner kick, with the ball falling to Medunajanin outside the box. The midfielder then lifted the ball back into the box, finding Alejandro Bedoya. Bedoya then headed towards the middle, where an unmarked Sapong had no trouble nodding past Clark for the 2-1 lead.

In the 68th minute, Olsen brought on Darren Mattocks and Bruno Miranda, hoping to inject some life into a side that had only managed a single shot at that point in the game. But two minutes later, a second shot from United had them level once again.

Stieber collected a pass from Miranda on the left, and curled a cross in towards the far post. Mattocks was able to shake free of his marker, and timed his run perfectly, one timing a shot that left Blake with no chance of making a save.

That scoreline was short lived however, as Dockal fired the Union back ahead in the 72nd minute. Durkin attempted to cut off a pass in the box, but could not do enough, taking himself out of the play in the process. The ball fell to Dockal in the box, and though he did not have much to aim for, the Czech midfielder blasted a shot over Clark at the near post to restore the Union’s lead.

DeLeon tried to test Blake moments later, but his effort from outside the box was held by the Jamaican keeper. And in the 76th minute, Clark spilled a hard shot from Dockal, but scrambled to cover up the loose ball before an Union player could pounce on the chance.

United’s best chance to equalize came in the 90th minute, as Mattocks picked up the ball near the endline. Using a nutmeg to get into the box, Mattocks centered the ball for Miranda, who was well positioned to shoot. Instead, the Bolivian whiffed on the chance, and a follow up attempt from Durkin flew well over the goal, signalling the end of United’s hopes of a point on the day.

United, with 5 points from seven games, have another week off, before heading out west to take on Real Salt Lake on May 12th.