Saturday night was one to forget for D.C. United, as the Black-and-Red were smashed 4-0 by the Philadelphia Union. Luciano Acosta was shown a red card in the second half, as United trailed 1-0 thanks to a first half goal from Haris Medunjanin.
United had little chance of getting back into the game after the red card, but capitulated for their worst loss at home since a 4-0 defeat to the New York Red Bulls in 2011. Oguchi Onyewu, Fafa Picault, and Fabian Herbers were the beneficiaries of Acosta’s sending off, scoring their first goals of the season for the Union, in just their second win of 2017.
The loss for United was their fifth of the season, and third at home, in just six games.
Head coach Ben Olsen made two changes to the team that lost 1-0 to the Montreal Impact, with Steve Birnbaum back in the lineup for the first time since picking up a concussion against the New York Red Bulls. But surprisingly, Birnbaum was played at right back, with Bobby Boswell and Kofi Opare retaining their center back positions. Patrick Mullins also returned to the lineup, with Sebastien Le Toux dropping to the bench.
Neither team started the game brightly, which wasn’t necessarily a bad thing for the Black-and-Red. For the first time since that loss against the Red Bulls, United did not concede a goal within the first 15 minutes of the game, ending a streak of three consecutive games. While that was an improvement though, chances at the other end were still tough to come by.
And so when the game opened up around the 20th minute, it was mostly the Union on the front foot. Ilsinho, in the 21st minute, benefited from a slip by Opare while chasing a ball in the midfield. The slip from Opare let Ilsinho by, but the Brazilian opted to shoot with teammates giving him options. The shot was on target, but right at Bill Hamid, who made a comfortable save.
Former United player Chris Pontius helped create a moment of chaos in front of D.C.’s goal in the 26th minute, but United did just enough to prevent an opening goal. Pontius’ cross was right in front of goal, but Boswell did enough to block the ball away from Ilsinho. However, the ball popped right out to Fafa Picault, who fired at goal, only to have Opare block the shot.
Picault then went close in the 32nd minute, latching onto a pass and getting into the box. There wasn’t much to aim at with Opare guarding closely, but Picault’s shot took an awkward deflection off of Opare. Hamid had to quickly adjust, and got enough of a hand on the shot to push it away.
United finally woke up from a slumber in the 35th minute, coming close to scoring on several occasions, without ever really resting goalkeeper Andre Blake. The first came from Lloyd Sam, who won a header from a cross by left back Taylor Kemp, only for the ball to bounce just past the post.
Mullins then tried his luck from a tight angle, but blasted a shot from the left hand side of the box well over. And on a quick break from United in the 37th minute, Acosta tried to beat Blake from outside of the box, but the shot dribbled wide of the far post.
Then came Medunjanin’s goal, which took whatever wind was there out of United’s sails. The Union were able to get the ball deep into United’s end on the right hand side, before working their way back. Pontius, with the ball outside of the box, picked out Medunjanin, who was completely unmarked 25 yards from goal. The midfielder settled the ball on his favorite left foot, and then smashed a shot past Hamid, who seemed caught of guard, as the ball snuck in under his arms.
CJ Sapong, who last week scored a hat trick in the Union’s first win of the season, came close to doubling the Union’s lead two minutes later. After a turnover in United’s end, Sapong took a shot first time from a pass that was nearly beyond him. Sapong’s left footed shot was on goal, but Hamid did just enough to push the shot wide.
Birnbaum won a header from a Sam corner in the 42nd minute, but the glancing header lacked the crucial second touch that could have turned it into United’s equalizer.
The Union started the second half on top of proceedings, and were nearly rewarded with a goal in the 48th minute. With the ball just outside of the box, Pontius chipped a cross right in front of goal. Picault won the header, but couldn’t guide it down, which allowed Hamid to make a good save on the doorstep of the goal.
United’s hopes of getting something from the game took a huge hit in the 54th minute, after Acosta picked up a straight red card for a tackle on Ilsinho. Frustrated at not getting a call moments before, Acosta lunged at Ilsinho right in front of referee, earning his first red card in his MLS career.
Picault had a shot hit the top of the netting in the 58th minute, as the Union comfortably settled into the role of the team with the lead, up a man on the field. And then the eventual second goal came, courtesy of Onyewu. Medunjanin, who was in control of the game for the Union, whipped a corner into the box, as Onyewu got away from Boswell. The header was perfectly placed towards the far post, beating Hamid for the 2-0 advantage.
The Union continued to push forward, but Boswell had a chance in the 77th minute to maybe get United back in the game. Birnbaum won a header from a cross by Sam at the far post, heading back towards the middle of the goal. A chance on the volley was all teed up for Boswell, but the center back smashed his effort well over the goal.
A Philly win had long been the outcome, but they made United pay for their numerical disadvantage, scoring twice late on to pad the score. First, Picault, collecting a pass from Medunjanin, got the ball onto his right foot just outside the box. The midfielder had space, and curled a shot towards the far post, beating Hamid in the 78th minute for the three goal lead.
And it was Herbers who rounded out the scoring in the 88th minute, condemning United to the four goal loss at home. Alejandro Bedoya had the ball on the right, and picked out Herbers at the top of the box with a crisp pass. Herbers one timed a shot, and the ball floated over Hamid, finding the top corner to provide the final goal difference.
United, with 11 points from 10 games, finish out their home stand next weekend by hosting the Chicago Fire.