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Disaster for D.C. United in 5-1 home loss to Philadelphia Union

A horrid start, capped by Junior Moreno’s red card, doomed the Black-and-Red

MLS: Philadelphia Union at D.C. United Scott Taetsch-USA TODAY Sports

D.C. United badly needed to get a home win, but a hugely disappointing first half instead handing the Philadelphia Union a 5-1 victory at Audi Field. Marco Fabián had a brace, as well as an assist on Alejandro Bedoya’s opener, and Junior Moreno’s 40th minute red card capped off a nightmarish day at the office for the home side.

United needed a good start, but instead produced the exact opposite. Donovan Pines seemed to have a simple long ball handled along the touchline, but Andrew Wooten managed to bump him just enough to cause the rookie to fall without committing a foul. Wooten charged forward, and with United in disarray, he found Marco Fabián in the box. The Mexican international didn’t have an angle, so he laid it off for Alejandro Bedoya, whose roller got through traffic, sneaking past Bill Hamid to give Philadelphia a 3rd minute lead.

Haris Medunjanin narrowly missed on a somewhat similar opportunity just three minutes later as United simply couldn’t keep up with the speed of play. Chris Durkin then had to be substituted in the 16th minute with what appeared to be a foot injury, forcing Ben Olsen to move Leonardo Jara inside as a defensive midfielder, switch Lucas Rodriguez to the right, and bring Joseph Mora on to play left wingback.

The Union continued to dominate. Hamid produced a stellar reflex save to deny Jack Elliott in the 19th minute, and Kacper Przybylko wastefully fired the rebound just over the bar. Midway through the half, the Union had attempted 11 shots, scoring once and forcing 4 saves out of Hamid. At the other end, United had zero attempts of any kind.

Finally, around the 30th minute, the Black-and-Red started having some attacking possession. However, their problems got worse after a corner that went awry. Philadelphia broke out on the counter, with Przybylko eventually getting into the box as the ball fell to him. Przybylko muscled past Junior Moreno, who pulled him down, and referee Armando Villarreal quickly pointed to the spot.

United fans thought they might get a reprieve as Villarreal went to VAR, but the review was for whether Moreno deserved red instead of yellow for the foul. After a lengthy review, Villarreal delivered the bad news, leaving United down to 10 men and facing a penalty kick. However, D.C. got at least some good news, as Przybylko blasted his spot kick well over Hamid’s goal.

Just when a dire half appeared to end with limited damage, United conceded a second in first half stoppage time. Despite several opportunities to win the ball back and get it clear, the home side couldn’t get the job done, and eventually Medunjanin laid the ball down the left for Kai Wagner. The Union’s left back fizzed a cutback across the area, where Fabián calmly thumped a first-time shot past Hamid.

Ben Olsen shifted into a 441 coming out for the second half, but United’s collective slowness of thought bit them again in the 52nd minute. Warren Creavalle jumped a pass in midfield, and with United slow to react, he waltzed forward before dishing it to Przybylko, who made up for his penalty miss by slotting the ball past Hamid.

Apparently stung into action, United had a reply just two minutes later. Chris Odoi-Atsem, brought on just after the Union’s third goal, immediately won a foul after being shoulder-checked by Aurelien Collin. Wayne Rooney’s free kick found Steven Birnbaum, who did well to rise above a crowd and power a header on goal. Andre Blake made his first save of the night, but couldn’t hold the ball, and in the chaos, Frederic Brillant got a toe to the ball to nudge it over the line.

The Union were suddenly reeling, and Rooney used a much more difficult 58th minute free kick to nearly set up a second goal. From well within United’s half, Rooney launched an early service behind the Union back four, who were caught napping by Paul Arriola’s run. Arriola met the ball before it bounced, flicking the ball with the outside of his foot over Blake. Audi Field was on edge, but the audacious lob bounced just wide.

If that was unlikely to work, United’s next chance was even more unusual. A Hamid goal kick picked Luciano Acosta out well into the Philadelphia half. Acosta quickly passed across to Arriola, who drew Blake off his line before cutting inside. With the goal unguarded, Arriola tried to make it 3-2, but had to lean as he shot, hitting his bid over the bar. In the process, he appeared to have a hamstring issue, forcing a substitution.

United’s unlikely comeback actually had some momentum, but their hopes were ended in the 70th minute as Fabián struck again. Medunjanin slipped him in behind United’s already deep back four, and Fabián produced a fake, losing Brillant as the French veteran dove in to block his shot. From there, Fabián went for goal, but got some help as his shot clipped Birnbaum before going past Hamid.

The Black-and-Red kept trying to find some kind of response, with Acosta and Rodriguez both having decent attempts go wide in quick succession. However, the fourth goal seemed to rob them of whatever zip they had, and Fafa Picault capped an emphatic result off for the Union in the 90th minute. Ilsinho and Jamiro Monteiro combined on the right, with the Brazilian veteran chipping the ball back across to a wide-open Picault for the finish.

Box Score

MLS Regular Season (Game 25)
D.C. United 1 (Brillant 54)
Philadelphia Union 5 (Bedoya 3; Fabián 47+, 70; Przybylko 52; Picault 90)

DCU (34): Bill Hamid; Donovan Pines (Chris Odoi-Atsem 52), Frederic Brillant, Steven Birnbaum; Leonardo Jara, Chris Durkin (Joseph Mora 16), Junior Moreno, Lucas Rodriguez; Paul Arriola (Ulises Segura 69), Wayne Rooney (C), Luciano Acosta

Philly (4312): Andre Blake; Ray Gaddis, Jack Elliott, Aurelien Collin, Kai Wagner; Alejandro Bedoya (C), Haris Medunjanin, Warren Creavalle (Jamiro Monteiro 56); Marco Fabián (Fafa Picault 80); Andrew Wooten (Ilsinho 69), Kacper Przybylko

DCU - Moreno 40 (red)
Philly - Medunjanin 25, Bedoya 31, Fabián 42, Collin 53