An impressive second half saw D.C. United to a comfortable 3-1 win over the Philadelphia Union in their preseason finale. Ola Kamara scored a goal in each half, while Ulises Segura picked up a goal and an assist for United, who also got attacking midfielders Edison Flores and Yamil Asad into the game for some important minute ahead of the season opener.
Ben Olsen had something of a surprise up his sleeve, fielding a 433 featuring marquee signing Flores on the right side of the front line. Julian Gressel, who previously had started on the right wing in a 4231 for most of preseason, joined a midfield triangle that also included Felipe, with Junior Moreno the anchor.
After some even early exchanges, a 16th minute Union corner bounced through United’s goalmouth untouched. Seconds later, a long-range blast from Moreno clipped the crossbar after beating Andre Blake’s dive.
The Union tried to mount an attack from the resulting goal kick, but within 20 seconds the Black-and-Red took a 1-0 lead. Russell Canouse broke things up before pushing play forward quickly to Flores, who cleverly glanced the ball on for Segura. Jack Elliott and Ray Gaddis froze, letting Segura race in alone on Blake. Just inside the box and with Blake charging out, Segura squared for the trailing Kamara, who duly applied the finish for an 18th minute lead.
The Union had the game’s next two looks, with another corner causing chaos, and a 27th minute pass from Bill Hamid going awry. However, Philadelphia rushed while trying to take advantage, with a long Brenden Aaronson shot going wide in the 27th minute.
United’s ability to break forward quickly was causing the Union fits, with Blake producing a fine save to deny Felipe in the 31st minute after D.C. were able to open the game up in transition. That said, Philadelphia began working themselves into the game, gaining more of the possession and forcing United to play more of the game on the counter than in the early stages.
On just such an attack, Segura nearly made it 2-0 in the 43rd minute, only for Blake to tip his angled shot over the bar. Unfortunately for United, they were hit on the counter, and Philadelphia had their equalizer a minute later. United appeared to have gotten back to shut down the initial move, but Aaronson managed to pick out the trailing Jamiro Monteiro, who picked out the upper corner with a tremendous strike from 20 yards.
Halftime substitute Yamil Asad, who missed most of the preseason due to injury, produced the first shot on goal of the second half, fooling Gaddis but not Blake with a near-post bid in the 51st minute.
A slick give-and-go broke Philadelphia’s defense open in the 54th minute, with Gressel and the active Segura combining before the latter once again connected with Kamara. Sprinting past Mark McKenzie, Kamara was clipped, and referee Ted Unkel pointed to the spot. Kamara took the kick himself, using an exaggerated step to fool Blake before firing home.
United padded their advantage just four minutes later, in a fashion similar to the Union’s goal. This time, Gressel produced the killer ball from inside the D.C. half, sending Segura in all alone. With no one able to catch him, Segura entered the box and powered a low shot past Blake to make it 3-1.
Asad forced another save from Blake as United had taken total control, but both teams began making the customary preseason substitutions from there. United gave minutes to homegrown midfielders Kevin Paredes and Moses Nyeman, newcomer Erik Sorga, and trialist Jonathan Campbell, among others as the half wore on.
After 25 minutes of United dominance, Philadelphia finally started to offer a response, with Bill Hamid having to make a save at full stretch after another long-range Monteiro rocket took a deflection on the way in. At the other end, Segura was denied by Blake, and from the ensuing corner, Steven Birnbaum forced a dramatic double save from the Jamaican goalkeeper as United tried to add a fourth goal.
United controlled play from there, relying on a new emphasis on possession out of the back to kill the clock without giving away anything of note.
The Black-and-Red finish preseason with a 3W-1D-2L record, and now head into their 25th MLS season. They’ll kick off the very first game of the year for the league against the Colorado Rapids next Saturday, February 29, at 1:00pm at Audi Field.
Highlights will be added when they are made available.
Joe DiMaggio Sports Complex (Clearwater, FL)
D.C. United 3 (Kamara 18, 55pen; Segura 59)
Philadelphia Union 1 (Monteiro 44)
DCU (433): Bill Hamid; Russell Canouse, Frederic Brillant (Jonathan Campbell 72), Steven Birnbaum, Joseph Mora; Julian Gressel (Kevin Paredes 60), Junior Moreno (Moses Nyeman 76), Felipe; Edison Flores (Yamil Asad 46, Emmanuel Boateng 76), Ola Kamara (Erik Sorga 61), Ulises Segura
Union (4312): Andre Blake; Ray Gaddis, Jack Elliott (Jakob Glesnes 60), Mark McKenzie, Matt Real (Olivier Mbaizo 85); Alejandro Bedoya, Warren Creavalle (Matej Oravec 56), Jamiro Monteiro; Brenden Aaronson; Sergio Santos (Ilsinho 64), Kacper Przybylko
Note: Players marked with an asterisk are under contract with Loudoun United. Players in italics are trialists/academy players who are not under contract.
DCU - None
Union - None