D.C. United had an off night on Friday night in Chester, Pennsylvania against the Philadelphia Union. Really, neither team had shown much in the way of invention or style. But with just moments remaining in the game, it looked like the Black-and-Red would escape with a point on the road. That is, until Richie Marquez stabbed home a winner in the 91st minute, handing United their 5th loss on the season.
Almost exactly one year ago, Zach Pfeffer fired home from inside the box in stoppage time to give the Union all three points against United. This year, it was Marquez, the third year defender, whose volley at the back post following a recycled free kick gave the Union a similar win.
Ben Olsen named an unchanged side for the third straight game, coming off the impressive 2-0 win over the New York Red Bulls last week. But the outcome was almost the polar opposite in Chester on Friday night.
The Union had the first chance of the game, as Sebastien Le Toux won a header near midfield, finding CJ Sapong. Sapong held off a challenge, made his way towards the box, and then passed over to Tranquillo Barnetta in the box. Barnetta took aim at goal, but Steve Birnbaum quickly slid over to block the shot out for a corner.
United then had a trio of chances to get themselves ahead in the first half, but the Philadelphia back line held firm on all three. First, a give-and-go between Luciano Acosta and Alvaro Saborio ended with Acosta laying the ball off at the top of the box, but Saborio's shot - with Andre Blake possibly not seeing the shot until late - skipped wide.
A long throw in from Nick DeLeon in the 13th minute was knocked around the box, before falling to Acosta near the top of the box. Acosta's initial shot was blocked, and then the follow-up on the rebound from Taylor Kemp was skied over the goal. In the 18th minute, a corner for United was headed back towards Marcelo Sarvas, who laid the ball off for Acosta, but the Argentinian playmaker whipped a shot right at Union keeper Andre Blake.
There was little from United until the halftime break, as the Union found their feet and ended up having the rest of the shots for the remaining 27 minutes of the first half. In the 26th minute, a cross from left back Fabinho went through the box, allowing Le Toux to cross back in. That cross found Barnetta, but the midfielder couldn't shape his curling first timed effort on goal.
Two minutes later, Barnetta was denied a goal by the post. Fabinho won a free kick for the Union near the left corner of the box, and the Swiss international Barnetta swung the ball in. His service bounced through the box untouched, but smacked off of the far post, with Fabinho's follow-up effort well off the mark.
Barnetta fired over from a cross from Le Toux in the 33rd minute, before Fabinho made his way towards goal in the 37th minute, having a rip from just outside the box that United keeper Travis Worra parried out of danger.
The second half started out a bit more evenly. Fabinho got free down the left hand flank in the 47th minute, before trying to send a cross into the box. Sean Franklin came across to clear the danger, with several Union attackers lurking.
Saborio had a decent chance in the 49th minute, as Franklin's cross initially evaded the group after a good build-up. Patrick Nyarko collected the ball and manufactured a sliver of space to try another cross, but Saborio had to slide to meet the ball and couldn't get firm contact on the back-post service, sending his effort wide.
The Union should have had the lead in the 51st minute, but Le Toux failed to convert a glorious chance right in front of goal. A cross into the box was palmed by Worra, but the ball fell right to Le Toux in front of the goal. With the net gaping, Le Toux decided to take a touch, only to mangle it. The ball skewed from one foot to the other, which allowed Kemp to close in quickly. Kemp tried to clear the ball, but it bounced off of Le Toux, forcing a recovering Worra to slap the ball out for a corner.
At the other end, Birnbaum couldn't quite get his shape right when trying to volley a shot on target from a corner, before former United player Chris Pontius was just beaten to a bouncing ball in the box by Worra, who was quick off his line to punch the danger away.
Blake made the save of the game in the 63rd minute, robbing Saborio of a potential goal of the week in the process. A corner for United was flicked to Lamar Neagle in the box, allowing the midfielder to fire a shot. His bounding shot was going wide, but Saborio swiveled to attempt a a bicycle kick just yards from goal. Blake showed tremendous reflexes to push the ball wide.
Marquez collected a free kick for the Union at the top of the box in the 67th minute, turning and shooting towards the far post, but Worra was able to quickly cover the ground to make the save. Sapong, who had harassed United all night long without much luck, tried to curl a shot in the 77th minute, but Worra delivered a strong save to deny the Virginia native.
United looked like they just might see the game out as the game crept into stoppage time, but for the second year in a row, the Union won in Chester with a stoppage time goal. An initial free kick from United was cleared out, but with with United unable to pressure the ball, the Union got another look with all their targets forward. Le Toux was able to pick his head up and whip in a cross to the far post, where Marquez was unmarked to stab the ball home for the 1-0 win.
United are in action again next Friday, traveling to Kansas to take on Sporting Kansas City.