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D.C. United again can’t find the breakthrough, falling 1-0 to Philadelphia Union

United put the defending Shield holders under siege in the second half, but had to settle for a second straight loss

Caitlin Buckley / Black and Red United

Despite spending nearly the entire second half on the attack, D.C. United once again fell 1-0 at home, this time to the Philadelphia Union. Kacper Przybylko’s VAR-assisted goal in first half stoppage time was the difference, and though United peppered Andre Blake’s goal with shots in the final 45 minutes, the breakthrough never arrived.

United’s plans for a positive start took a blow early, as Designated Player Edison Flores suffered an awkward landing under 30 seconds into the match after colliding with José Martinez. D.C.’s trainers took a brief look at Flores on the sideline before the Black-and-Red opted for a substitution, bringing Julian Gressel in and pushing captain for the night Paul Arriola up front.

A clever 12th minute exchange saw the Union provide the game’s first threat, but Brendan Hines-Ike headed Leon Flach’s attempt to clip the ball over Jon Kempin away from danger.

At the other end, United had the game’s next three looks, all involving Arriola and Adrien Perez. First, the duo produced a fine 13th minute combination only for a last-ditch block from the Union to guide the ball inches wide. Perez then won a free kick that Arriola nearly put away, only for Andre Blake to claw the ball away at the last second. The duo both had a shot at a 25th minute cross from Gressel, but neither could reach it as it bounced through the goalmouth.

Despite spending most of the half on the back foot, the Union nearly took a lead when a long Kai Wagner shot clipped Andy Najar’s back on the way in, wrong-footing Kempin but mercifully floating wide. Philadelphia went even closer in the 43rd minute, after a cross by Olivier Mbaizo went to the back post for Flach. Flach tried to feed Jamiro Monteiro, who really should have scored, but his scuffed shot hit Hines-Ike and fell right into a grateful Kempin’s arms.

United didn’t heed the warning, and fell behind two minutes into first half stoppage time. Monteiro’s delicate lob to Kacper Przybylko saw the big striker fire past Kempin from close range, only for the offside flag to initially wipe the goal out. However, referee Tim Ford got a call from the VAR booth, and after a brief check, correctly awarded the visitors the opening goal.

Ola Kamara entered as a halftime sub, replacing Moses Nyeman, and nearly set up an equalizer in the 48th minute, only for Jakob Glesnes to just barely beat Arriola to Kamara’s chipped service.

Another substitute, Kevin Paredes, was robbed of a spectacular 62nd minute equalizer. The Union half-cleared their lines, but Paredes left Alejandro Bedoya for dead before bending a shot destined for the upper corner, only for Blake to spectacularly tip it over the bar.

United kept hammering away, with Perez sending a free header barely wide with Blake rooted to the spot in the 77th minute. Two minutes later, Najar nodded a Gressel corner wide in a virtual repeat of the Perez miss as the Black-and-Red were setting up shop in the Union end.

Glesnes barely headed away a free kick destined for Kamara in the 86th minute as the Black-and-Red onslaught continued. However, much to the chagrin of the home crowd, Philadelphia’s shift to five in the back and a willingness to kill time at every stoppage proved just as fruitful for them as it did last week for Orlando.

The frustrating result extended a winless run against the Union in MLS play that dates back to April 1, 2017 (0W-1D-8L). After three straight at home, United’s next match sees them back on the road, as they face Inter Miami this Saturday, May 29, at 8:00pm.

Highlights will be added when they are made available.

Box Score

MLS Regular Season - Game 7
D.C. United 0
Philadelphia Union 1 (Przybylko 47+)

DCU (352): Jon Kempin; Andy Najar, Brendan Hines-Ike, Tony Alfaro (Donovan Pines 78); Paul Arriola (C), Moses Nyeman (Ola Kamara 46), Russell Canouse, Drew Skundrich (Felipe Martins 78), Joseph Mora (Kevin Paredes 60); Edison Flores (Julian Gressel 4), Adrien Perez

Union (4312): Andre Blake; Olivier Mbaizo, Jakob Glesnes, Jack Elliott, Kai Wagner; Alejandro Bedoya (C), José Martinez (Daniel Gazdag 67), Leon Flach; Jamiro Monteiro; Kacper Przybylko, Cory Burke (Sergio Santos 67)

DCU - None
Union - Martinez 65, Blake 95+