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Eventful second half sees D.C. United, Philadelphia Union battle to 2-2 draw

A late Mark McKenzie wonderstrike undid what looked like a stirring comeback from the Black-and-Red

MLS: Philadelphia Union at D.C. United Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports

A wild second half saw D.C. United and the Philadelphia Union battle to a 2-2 draw at Audi Field tonight. Anthony Fontana’s 49th minute goal gave the visitors a lead, but United fought back with goals from Donovan Pines and Yamil Asad. However, they couldn’t quite manage their first win since early September, as Mark McKenzie’s spectacular long-range strike got the Union back level late on.

Interim head coach Chad Ashton made five changes from a weekend loss in Chicago, but two were enforced. Bill Hamid missed out due to what The Washington Post’s Steven Goff reported as “non-Covid illness,” while Junior Moreno was also left out due to an injury. Meanwhile, for the first time since August 25, Designated Player Edison Flores was in the starting eleven for the Black-and-Red.

United had the game’s first looks, both stemming from good work from their central midfield pairing. Russell Canouse opened the field up with a smart switch of play in the 5th minute on a move that ended with Erik Sorga just barely unable to deflect Oniel Fisher’s shot. Ten minutes later, Asad won the ball, pushed play forward, and barely over-cooked his through ball for Flores. The Peruvian still managed to cut the ball back to Asad, though, and only Olivier Mbaizo’s block kept the game scoreless.

Philadelphia were second-best for the first 20 minutes, but started to find the spaces between the lines from there. A giveaway from Kevin Paredes nearly cost United in the 23rd minute, with the Union adroitly luring D.C.’s defense inside before finding Jamiro Monteiro in space on the left. Monteiro fired on goal, and Chris Seitz needed to make both a save and an awkward kick to get the ball away from danger, with three Union attackers looming.

Still, United were a threat, with Fisher doing very well to pick out Ola Kamara in the 31st minute. Under pressure from Mark McKenzie, though, Kamara spurned the chance by firing over the bar. As the half wore to a close, Asad’s free kick service was nodded into a dangerous spot by Donovan Pines, but Frederic Brillant’s close-range shot was blocked. Asad won a foul in the aftermath just inches outside the box, which Flores took, but Pines barely missed out on tipping the dangerous service past Blake.

United’s promising first half was undone shortly after the teams returned from halftime. Pines should have opted to move the ball up the left wing, but tried to pass his way out of trouble up the middle, giving the Union the ball back after their initial attack had been cut out. Within seconds, Sergio Santos slid a low cross through traffic to pick out a sliding Anthony Fontana, who put Philadelphia ahead 1-0 from close range.

United took some time to get themselves back on the front foot, but a series of corners caused major danger in the 68th minute. United went close three times in the scramble, with Alejandro Bedoya narrowly avoiding an own goal trying to make a block.

That corner became a second that was nearly headed in by substitute Gelmin Rivas, and that set the stage for Pines to redeem himself. It was a classic corner kick goal, with Asad delivering a perfect ball for Pines to nod down past Andre Blake, levelling the score in the 71st minute.

Just seconds after play resumed, United pounced on a Jack Elliott giveaway, with substitute Julian Gressel intercepting the ball. Gressel found Erik Sorga, whose shot from 19 yards was handled by Bedoya.Referee Marcos DeOliveira pointed to the spot, and after a lengthy VAR check, booked Bedoya as well. Asad, after standing with the ball for about two full minutes, sent Blake the wrong way from 12 yards, putting United up 2-1 in the 75th minute. The lead represented United’s first of any kind since September 19’s 2-2 draw with Toronto FC.

United were looking confident of breaking an eight-game winless run, but an unlikely 87th minute goal from Union center back Mark McKenzie squelched those hopes. Philadelphia had an initial service into the box cleared, but from all of 30 yards, McKenzie let loose a vicious, swerving shot that flew past Chris Seitz to equalize.

Philadelphia looked like they might even steal a win with some very late pressure around the United penalty area, but ultimately D.C. held firm to snap a six-game losing streak, as well as a seven-game run of losses against the Union dating back to 2017.

The Black-and-Red will look to take the next step and get a win this coming Sunday, as they head to Ohio to take on FC Cincinnati. Highlights will be added when they are made available.

Box Score

MLS Regular Season - Game 18
D.C. United 2 (Pines 71, Asad 75pen)
Philadelphia Union 2 (Fontana 49, McKenzie 87)

DCU (442): Chris Seitz; Oniel Fisher (Griffin Yow 90), Frederic Brillant (C), Donovan Pines, Joseph Mora; Kevin Paredes (Chris Odoi-Atsem 83), Russell Canouse, Yamil Asad, Edison Flores (Julian Gressel 46); Erik Sorga, Ola Kamara (Gelmin Rivas 65)

Union (4312): Andre Blake; Olivier Mbaizo, Jack Elliott, Mark McKenzie, Kai Wagner; Brenden Aaronson, Alejandro Bedoya (C), Jamiro Monteiro; Anthony Fontana (Ilsinho 62); Kacper Przybylko, Sergio Santos (Andrew Wooten 62)

DCU - Canouse 59
Union - Santos 42, Fontana 53, Bedoya 74, Mbaizo 81