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D.C. United finally score, win 2-1 over Philadelphia Union

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United did just enough to hold on to a victory in the second half after Ortiz and Acosta scored early

D.C. United scored their first goal of their season, and it helped them to their first win, a 2-1 victory over the Philadelphia Union on Saturday night at RFK Stadium. Jose Ortiz, making his first start of the Black-and-Red in place of the injured Patrick Mullins, finally got United on the board for the season in the 18th minute with a deflected strike. Nine minutes later, Luciano Acosta scored from the penalty spot.

The win, which followed losses to Columbus Crew SC and New York City FC to go along with the season-opening tie against Sporting Kansas City, moved United out of the cellar of the Eastern Conference.

CJ Sapong, who has had success in the past against United, came on in the second half and provided the goal for the Union. His goal in the 71st minute, gave Philadelphia a lifeline, but they could not take advantage of several other opportunities late on to earn at least a point in the game.

Besides Ortiz taking Mullins’ place, head coach Ben Olsen made one other change to the team last lost to the Crew two weeks ago. Former captain Bobby Boswell got the start in the center of defense, with Sean Franklin relegated to the bench.

After going three games without a goal to start the season, United’s luck seemed to continue to go against them early on against the Union. With Andre Blake off his line trying to grab a cross from Acosta, the ball fell to Lloyd Sam outside the box. His shot towards the unguarded goal was blocked, and then a backheel from Patrick Nyarko to Acosta ended with Blake gobbling up the ball before Acosta could shoot.

But in the 18th minute, United finally got their goal, courtesy of Ortiz. A bad pass out of the back from Blake was compounded by left back Fabinho’s awkward header. Sam picked up the ball, and passed into the box for Ortiz. The Costa Rican did well to turn in the box to shoot, but his effort needed a deflection off of Richie Marquez to get past Blake for the 1-0 lead.

Ortiz nearly doubled his and United’s goal total in the 22nd minute, as he collected a pass from Taylor Kemp and made his way towards goal. A thunderous shot from outside the box beat Blake, but the shot skimmed off the cross bar.

The Union had their own chances to get the next goal, but Bill Hamid’s save in the 23rd minute kept United ahead. Fabinho made his way down the left for Philadelphia, before turning back towards the middle and passing to Haris Medunjanin. Medunjanin first-timed a left footer towards the upper corner, but Hamid was able to get enough on the shot to push it over the goal. The subsequent corner found former United favorite Chris Pontius, but his header sailed just over the goal.

In the 26th minute, referee Ricardo Salazar awarded United a penalty for a handball against Marquez. Salazar immediately spotted the infraction from Marquez - whose hand blocked an attempted Ortiz pass - but near the edge of the box, was unsure if it was a penalty or free kick. Salazar looked to his assistant for help, but when none was available, Salazar pointed to the spot.

After Marcelo Sarvas had a penalty saved against Sporting KC in the season opener, Acosta took the honors against the Union. His run up was slow, but a well placed shot had enough power to beat Blake to the left post, giving United a two goal advantage.

The rest of the half went off rather uneventfully, but once the second half commenced, it was one way traffic for most of the 45 minutes. In the half, the Union out-shot the Black-and-Red 12-1, with United’s only shot coming moments before full time.

Right back Keegan Rosenberry was the first time really test Hamid, with a shot from his weaker left foot in the 64th minute. Hamid did well to get back across his body to push the shot wide at the near post. Hamid then made a save on the substitute Sapong, who fired a hard shot from outside of the box that Hamid held.

The Union’s pressure finally paid off in the 71st minute, as Sapong was the beneficiary of a rebound given up by Hamid. With defenders in front of him following a scramble in the box, Alejandro Bedoya laced a shot on target that Hamid saw late. Because of that, Hamid could only block the ball rather than smothering it, and Sapong was quickest to react, slamming in the rebound home for a 2-1 scoreline.

Ilsinho saw a shot skip just wide a minute later, before Hamid made a crucial save for United in the 79th minute. With the Union pushing forward, there was another loose ball scramble in the box. After what seemed like an eternity, the ball eventually fell to Sapong, who ripped a shot on frame. Hamid showed his physical strength, though, fighting off the stinging effort with one hand to keep United ahead.

Oguchi Onyewu then had a header cleared off the line in the 81st minute by Marcelo, as the Union began to run out of time for an equalizer. They had a few more opportunities late on, but couldn’t muster anything to beat Hamid. DeLeon’s late shot after a counter flew just wide for United, but that was just about the end of the game, as United ran out 2-1 winners.

With four points from four games, United return to action next week, when they host New York City FC.