March 6, 2021

D.C. United Game 32 Recap: United throw away win late, settle for draw vs. Philly

For almost 70 minutes, the starting 11 that D.C. United Head Coach Ben Olsen sent out vs. the Philadelphia Union was working hard, running well off the ball, making sharp passes into space trusting their teammates would get to them, and United had been rewarded with the lead through Nick DeLeon’s long-distance strike before halftime.

Then, the substitutes entered the game, United’s possession disappeared, Philadelphia piled on the pressure, and after surviving a couple United chances, Jack McInerney (a Union substitute) scored in the 90th minute to give Philadelphia a 1-1 draw and a vital point before 11,213 at rainy RFK Stadium Saturday night.

The point lifted Philadelphia to 5th place and the final playoff spot in Major League Soccer’s Eastern Conference with 46 points and two matches to play, pending Chicago’s result tonight at Dallas (the Fire would be fifth with a win).

United’s (3-22-7, 16 points) point wasn’t entirely insignificant, as it ensured that the club would not be the worst team in MLS history (by points per game). The 1999 New York/New Jersey MetroStars (now Red Bulls) gained just .469 points per game (15 points from 32 matches). United will finish with no worse than 16 points from 34 matches (.471).

But D.C. should have had three points tonight and what had been a performance befitting that of a good soccer team fell apart late as United changed personnel and the Union piled on the pressure, trying to get all the points they could in the playoff race.

It all culminated in the final couple minutes of normal time, when United substitute midfielder (sometimes defender) Sainey Nyassi committed a foul deep on the right defensive side, similar to one he was not called for (bizarrely), about 12 minutes earlier. United cleared the free kick out of immediate danger, but not far enough to prevent Philadelphia from quickly launching another surge.

After the clear, the ball was quickly played back up the left attacking flank to Kléberson, who had taken the free kick. He crossed back into the penalty area, where McInerney ran in to meet it unmarked, and headed a one-hopper past United goalkeeper Bill Hamid to draw the Union level. Nyassi was the player closest to Kléberson before his cross, but wasn’t able to stop it.

United perhaps shouldn’t have been in a position where one goal changed the final result. In the 72nd minute, United forward Conor Doyle was whistled for offside when it appeared he was even. Had the play continued, Doyle would have been in alone on MacMath with a chance to make it 2-0.

Eleven minutes later, Doyle did get around MacMath and was onside, but this time it was some 30 yards from goal, as MacMath had ventured off his line and out of his area. Doyle beat him, but didn’t fire immediately toward goal, allowing Union players to get back and try to cover for their wayward goalkeeper. When a shot finally came, it was high and well above the bar, as MacMath was not made to pay for his not-so excellent adventure.

Doyle left the game minutes later in favor of Lionard Pajoy.

The Union almost equalized immediately after MacMath’s travels, countering quickly with McInerney being denied by Hamid, who had charged off his line to cut down the shooting angle. The rebound came to Kléberson, but his rebound try from farther out looped over the bar. Earlier, Kléberson had missed the net wide by only about a foot on a free kick. Kléberson’s assist on the McInerney goal was his first in MLS in his 9th appearance.

United parlayed a mostly crisp first-half performance into a 1-0 lead in the 36th minute when no Union players closed down DeLeon in the middle of the field, so he hit a shot that beat MacMath to the goalkeeper’s right, into the top corner from about 30 yards out. The excellent shot was DeLeon’s second goal of the season, and Lewis Neal’s first assist. United also created other chances in the half through the work of midfielder Chris Pontius attacking on the left.

But, as has usually been the case in the 2013 regular season, one goal wasn’t enough.

With two matches left in the campaign, United will next play on Friday night at Sporting Kansas City, an 8 p.m. kickoff.

NOTE:  Philadelphia’s Farfan was cautioned in the 77th minute, and as a result, will be suspended for the Union’s next match.

UNITED 1-1 PHILADELPHIA

GOALS:
DCU – DeLeon 2 (Neal 1), 36′.
PHI – McInerney 11 (Kléberson 1), 90′.

DISCIPLINE:
PHI – M. Farfan, yellow, 77′.
PHI – McInerney, yellow, 90′.

STATISTICS:
Shots:  DC 17-17 PHI
Shots on Goal:  DC 4-5 PHI
Corners:  DC 5-5 PHI
Fouls:  DC 9-6 PHI
Offside:  DC 3-4 PHI
Possession:  DC 47.9%-52.1% PHI

UNITED (3-22-7):  Hamid; Korb, Woolard, Iapichino, Kitchen; Jeffrey, Pontius, DeLeon (Nyassi 71′ – tactical), Neal; Silva (Porter 68′ – tactical), Doyle (Pajoy 88′ – tactical).

UNION (12-10-10):  MacMath; Parke, Le Toux (Kassel 16′ – injury; McInerney 74′ – tactical)), Gaddis, Okugo; Cruz, M. Farfan, Daniel (Hoppenot 46′ – tactical), Carroll; Casey, Kléberson.

Ed Morgans is the D.C. United Page Editor for District Sports Page. For in-game analysis and story notifications, follow him on Twitter @writered21.

About Ed Morgans

Ed Morgans is DC United Page Editor for District Sports Page. Ed worked for The Journal Newspapers (now The Examiner) and covered DC United from 1997-2002. He spent the 2003 season writing for the club’s website. Ed has covered All-Star Games, MLS Cups, CONCACAF Champions Cup, World Cup qualifiers, and international friendlies. He also worked as a blogger at www.bigsoccer.com, the country’s leading soccer message board website. You can follow Ed on Twitter @writerEd21.

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