Last night (Saturday, August 26) DC started a three game homestand with a game against the Philadelphia Union. Two 0-0 draws in Philly earlier this year (one in league competition and one in the Leagues Cup) gave fans hope for some kind of result.
Unfortunately the first half was more like a repeat of last year’s 6-0 home and 7-0 away shellackings. The defense was a shambles early in the game.
First, in the 5th minute, Derrick Williams retreated to his corner on a routine back pass, and then played an ill-advised touch that was quickly intercepted and passed to a wide-open Mikkel Uhre, who buried it from short range. Russell Canouse was marking Uhre but inexplicably stopped.
Next, in the 13th minute, Philly counterattacked from a DC free kick into the box. Jose Martinez went almost the length of the field, as Santos tried a sliding tackle that totally failed and left Martinez wide open. Martinez’ cross was nudged by Chris Durkin right into the path of Jack McGlynn, who fired in the second goal. Hines-Ike almost cleared it off the line but was not able to make clear contact.
Finally, Tyler Miller collided with Julian Carranza just inside the penalty area in the 35th minute, and Daniel Gazdag converted the resulting penalty. At halftime it was 3-0 Philly. Were we halfway to 6-0 at home again?
After the half, Alex Bono came in as keeper for Miller, who apparently injured himself in first half stoppage time. Ruan also came in, for Durkin. The play was much better. In the 49th minute, Benteke’s close range header was somehow saved off the line by Andre Blake, and Klich’s followup shot was cleared off the line by a defender. Very unlucky.
Eric Davis, new Panamanian striker Jose Fajardo, and Ted Ku came on as subs as the second half wore on. Philly had some good chances but Bono made several nice saves. In the 84th minute, Fajardo headed in a rebound, but unfortunately was offside. Finally, in the 88th minute, Ted Ku (who had been doing nice things with the ball before that) slalomed through the center of the field and nailed a wonder strike past Blake to break an almost 4-game DC scoreless streak. DC sieged the goal towards the end, but it ended 3-1.
New midfielder Gabriel Pirani played 90 minutes for the first time. Definitely promising, but he needs help from others getting open for his passes. At the end of the game, with Benteke, Klich, Pirani and Ted Ku passing the ball around and creating chances, I saw the best offense in several games.
The absence of Donovan Pines (for the second game in a row) continues to be puzzling, especially given the defensive debacle. DC was fortunate that Bono was on his game in the second half, or Philly could easily have had more than three goals.
Next Saturday (September 2) DC hosts the Chicago Fire. We had a great tailgate last night, with lots of Pride Night and other attendees. “Love Unites”. Here’s to another great tailgate and game next week. Hopefully DC will bring their second half game (and perhaps some second half players, Rooney???) for two halves next week. (And Benteke is overdue to break out of his goalless drought.)