In search of ending a two game losing streak in league play, D.C. United could not have gotten off to a worse start on Sunday against the Philadelphia Union. The Black-and-Red fell 2-0 very early before storming back to win 3-2. CJ Sapong and Sebastien Le Toux gave the Union their two goal advantage within four minutes, and on top of that Fabian Espindola missed a chance to get United back into the game from the penalty spot. Debutant Alvaro Saborio pulled one back for United in the first half, before Nick DeLeon scored in the 66th minute, setting the stage for Espindola's winner in the 79th.
Disaster struck early for United, as they conceded a goal to Sapong just 21 seconds into the game. A turnover in midfield by Chris Korb set the Union off, and Cristian Maidana played a ball into the box for Sapong. Sapong shrugged off a challenge from Steve Birnbaum, and then coolly slotted home for the 1-0 lead.
Maidana fired just wide moments later, and soon after Philly had doubled their lead. Le Toux collected a ball out wide, and waited for the run of Sapong into the box. The ball from Le Toux missed Sapong's run, but with Andrew Dykstra anticipating a touch from Sapong, the ball rolled in at the far post for the two goal advantage.
United seemed to be in shock, but the Union failed to capitalize anymore as the Black-and-Red got their feet under them as the half wore on. The hosts created a nifty chance of their own in the 23 minute, which ended in Espindola firing just wide. DeLeon carried the ball through midfield, before picking out Chris Rolfe's run. Rolfe's dinked pass over the back line found Espindola, but the one-timed shot skipped just wide of the far post.
DeLeon then had a header just wide of the mark after Saborio failed to get on the end of a cross from Espindola. Maidana had a shot saved by Dykstra just before Davy Arnaud won a penalty for United. Collecting a pass from Saborio, Arnaud broke into the box only to be checked off the ball by Raymon Gaddis. Espindola stepped up to take the penalty, but in sending Brian Sylvestre the wrong way the Argentinian sent his penalty well over the goal.
Saborio though cut into that lead in the 37th minute, scoring in his Black-and-Red debut. DeLeon played a pass out wide for Korb, who was able to cut in behind left back Fabinho to create some space. Korb then lifted a cross to the far post, where Saborio worked his way back to volley home his fourth goal of the season.
Eric Ayuk had a chance from a Fabinho cross two minutes later, but the header was well off mark. United had two late corners to end the first half, but failed to make either count.
After ending the first half on the front foot, United started the second half in similar fashion, taking the game to the Union. Korb had a look from long range after DeLeon chested down a long ball. The effort from Korb was on target, but held by Sylvestre.
Later Saborio had a header that was deflected just wide for a corner, before Le Toux had a shot saved by Dykstra at the other end.
United almost found their equalizer through DeLeon in the 62nd minute, as he successfully collected a pass from Espindola in the box. Holding off one challenge, DeLeon got himself turned around, but saw his shot get deflected out for a corner which came to naught.
That equalizer came about four minutes later though, as DeLeon netted for the first time in MLS play this season. Espindola received a pass just outside the box, and turned several times to open up space for him to have a shot at goal. His shot put Sylvestre at full stretch, but the Union keeper's save left an inviting rebound. DeLeon timed his run perfectly, and was on the spot to turn the rebound in to level the proceedings at 2-2.
Sapong gave the game life again after a lull following the DeLeon goal, as the former Sporting Kansas City striker looked certain to score his second of the game. Ayuk slipped a ball into the box for Sapong, who beat Dykstra in a race to the ball. Sapong went for the chip, but his bid to give the Union a new lead was denied by the crossbar.
A minute later, United were ahead for the first time in the match. Holding off a challenge near the Union box, Espindola played back for Perry Kitchen. Kitchen immediately played the ball out wide for Korb, who was making a run up the right. In space, Korb one-timed a cross into the box for Espindola to head home his second goal of the season over Gaddis at the back post.
Philadelphia pushed on late to find an equalizer, but found United's defense hard to break down. Maurice Edu had a shot blocked by Taylor Kemp in the box, with the rebound falling to former United player Ethan White. The center back's shot was deflected just wide of the post, and the result was wasted by the Union. Substitute Fernando Aristeguieta had one final chance for the Union, but his shot from a sharp angle in the final minute of regular time was held confidently by Dysktra.
With the win, United remains on top of the Eastern Conference with 38 points from 23 games. The Black-and-Red return to action next Saturday at home versus Real Salt Lake.