Here we are again, fans. Last place in MLS. A three-game losing streak. They’ve been here before and are more or less likely to be in that position again. The Philadelphia Union can’t control what happened in the past. They can only control what happens on game day. On Saturday, they faced off for the third and final time against D.C United. They split the series 1-1-0 this season, with the first game going towards D.C 2-1 while the second saw the Union win in dominating 4-0 fashion. Both games previously took place at RFK Stadium. United are only two spots ahead of the Union in ninth and with only two more points. This pretty much is a must win for both teams.
D.C United: Hamid/ Odoi-Atsem;Opare;Birnbaum;Kemp/Jeffrey;Harkes/Le Toux;Acosta;Neagle/Ortiz
I-95 Derby: Philadelphia Union Top D.C. United Thanks to Andre Blake
A Philadelphia Union legend made his return to Chester, PA, this time wearing the wrong colors. Midfielder Sebastien Le Toux made his first appearance at Talen Energy Stadium since being traded to the Colorado Rapids last August for general allocation money. He leads the Union in many all-time categories such as games played, goals, assists and more.
The first big moment of the first half came in the 12th minute. An Ilsinho through ball to C.J Sapong led to him being pushed in the back by Steven Birnbaum. The appeal for a penalty fell on deaf ears and the ref allowed the game to continue.
After a very physical first 29 minutes, the 30th minute brought on the first card of the game. Jose Guillermo Ortiz received a yellow card for a reckless tackle.
Exactly a minute later, an ugly cross by Alejandro Bedoya proved to be worth while. The ball found the feet of Fafa Picault who blasted the ball into the net to give the Union the 1-0 lead. It’s Picault’s fourth goal year and second against D.C. It is also Bedoya’s second assist in a Union jersey.
Ray Gaddis was credited with a secondary assist on Picault’s goal for his pass to Bedoya to set it up. Opta revoked it 15 minutes later but later gave it back to him in the second half.
The first half would end 1-0 with D.C. still in it if they could find an equalizer in the second 45.
In the 63rd minute, Deshorn Brown made his second appearance in a D.C shirt after playing on Wednesday this week. He played for Colorado Rapids up till June of 2015 when he was shipped off to Norway. From there he went to China, then the Tampa Bay Rowdies before D.C. acquired him.
Jay Simpson came on soon after and immediately had an opportunity. A Bedoya cross led to a fantastic scoop turn for Simpson. But the excitement got the best of him and the ball rolled away uncontrolled.
In the 69th minute, Oguchi Onyewu got called for a blatant handball in the box. After a lengthy inactive period before the kick because of a Union substitution (Ilsinho for Roland Alberg), Lamar Neagle shot left right into the waiting hands of Andre Blake who would push the ball out of play. It was a humongous save for Blake and his first PK save since last may against Orlando City away.
An apparent straight red card was shown to D.C United’s Luciano Acosta in the 74th minute after a battle for the ball with Haris Medunjanin. After a minute of deliberation, the card was revoked and play continued after a cascade of boos.
The 90th minute saw another display of brilliance from Blake. A cross met the head of Neagle but the Union keeper soared and tipped it over the bar. The succeeding corner kick was headed out by Onyewu.
The game would end after that. Philly broke a three-game skid and rose above D.C and Montreal Impact in the standings. Blake clearly earned man of the match honors. A penalty kick save and a miraculous save at the end to preserve a win.
Here’s what goal scorer Fafa Picault had to say about Andre Blake:
“I’m extremely happy for him. Like I said he’s the best goalie in the league. And for him to get that shutout is well deserved especially after the last few games.”
The Union’s next game is Wednesday against New York Red Bulls in Lamar Hunt U.S Open Cup play.