March 6, 2021

D.C. United GAME 7 RECAP: Two goals, but no points, for United vs. Philadelphia

Despite looking better at times in play and equaling its Major League Soccer season total with two goals, D.C. United lost at home to the Philadelphia Union, 3-2, in front of 12,349 at RFK Stadium Sunday afternoon. United fell to 1-5-1 (4 points) on the season, while the Union improved to 3-2-2 (11 points). The loss leaves United last in the Eastern Conference, 10 points behind leaders Sporting Kansas City.

Perry Kitchen (first of the season) and Lionard Pajoy (second) scored the two United goals, but they were too little, too late. The Union took a 2-0 lead early against a lethargic United side to start the game. Jack McInerney scored twice for Philadelphia, while Conor Casey added the other, as United lost its third straight home match following a 19-match unbeaten streak in the league stretching back to early last season.

As much as the lack of United offense has been publicized in recent days, it was the defense that let the side down early Sunday. In the 7th minute, United defender Dejan Jakovic’s pass up the middle of the field was intercepted by a sliding Brian Carroll, who sent the ball toward Casey. Casey made a pass ahead to McInerney, who masterfully kept himself onside, went in alone on United goalkeeper Bill Hamid, and beat him with a solid shot to Hamid’s left.

Just four minutes later, former United man Danny Cruz worked the ball deep on the right side of the attacking third and cut around defender Daniel Woolard. Cruz then sent a centering pass to Casey, who had three would-be defenders around him. But none of the United players could keep Casey from shooting and finding the back of the net, making it 2-0 Philadelphia just 11 minutes in.

United responded in the 17th minute, when after a nice cross deep into the penalty area by DC defender Brandon McDonald, Dwayne De Rosario played the ball back for Kitchen. He unleashed a good shot that beat Union goalkeeper Zac MacMath. It was Kitchen’s first goal of the season and just United’s third of the first seven matches.

McInerney, however, restored Philadelphia’s two-goal lead in the 26th minute on assists by Amobi Okugo and Sheanon Williams. As the ball was centered into the penalty area, it appeared that United defender Daniel Woolard might have had a chance to clear it. But he couldn’t make full contact, and the ball fell to an open McInerney, who once again beat Hamid for his league-leading sixth goal of the season. The Union maintained their 3-1 lead into halftime.

As meekly as United started the game, things were just the opposite to open the second half. Maybe content to protect their two-goal advantage, the Union didn’t pressure aggressively to start the half and United took advantage. A cross from MacMath’s right found Pajoy open in the penalty area and the much-maligned United forward made no mistake, heading home to cut the lead to 3-2.

McInerney was subbed off in the 77th minute, ending his opportunity for a hat trick. United head coach Ben Olsen sent forward Carlos Ruiz into the game in the 70th minute for his usual 20 minutes or so of action. United had a dangerous free kick from about 25 yards out in the final minute of second-half stoppage time, but Carlos Ruiz’s strike flew harmlessly into the arms of MacMath, as the team’s nightmare start to the 2013 MLS season continued.

United are in action again next Saturday at the Columbus Crew.

NOTES: A moment of silence was held prior to the match in recognition of those who lost their lives in Boston and in West, Texas, during the past week. … Danny Cruz, who assisted on Philadelphia’s second goal, and Lionard Pajoy, who scored United’s second goal, were traded for each other during the 2012 season. … Casey Townsend, who returned to the club this week after being sent on loan to Richmond, appeared ready to come into the game in the 81st minute, but Olsen re-thought the substitution and Townsend didn’t appear. Townsend was thought to be a possible help to United’s struggling attack, after scoring two goals for the Kickers last week in a win over Charleston. … Jakovic received United’s lone caution. Casey was cautioned for time wasting in second-half stoppage time.

Ed Morgans is a Contributor to District Sports Page, covering D.C. United. For in-game analysis and story notifications, follow him on Twitter @edmorgans.

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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