Feverish first half effort fuels Union road win over United

McInerney brace, strong defensive front clinches first win at RFK

Huddle vs. DC

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USA Today Sports Images

 

Taped to a pole inside the Union’s locker room at RFK Memorial Stadium was a Washington Post article previewing Sunday’s match against D.C. United.

Circled with a black pen was one particular quote from United goalkeeper Bill Hamid:

“We’re going to win. We’ve made it our lives since losing at home to New York last week. Three points is what we need and three points is what we are going to get.”

Hamid would have been a prophet – if he played for the Union, who came to Washington D.C. proper and left with a 3-2 win.  Even more importantly, the Union took three precious road points behind a pair of goals from forwards Jack McInerney and Conor Casey. The Union (3-2-2, 11 points) now sit third best in MLS’ Eastern Conference, picking up seven of its 11 total points on the road so far this season.

READFULL MATCH STATISTICS

“Right now we separate ourselves from other teams which is the most important thing, said Union midfielder Danny Cruz, who tirelessly ran down the right side of the flank for the majority of the match. Cruz was subbed out in the 87th minute for Gabriel Farfan. “We are extremely excited and I am definitely excited about where we are going as a club. We got our first win in D.C. as a club, our first point in Columbus as a club and I think we are doing the right things right now – we need to continue that.”

What the Union had to do was contain a United squad that came out pressing and trying to assert itself on the game early. However, it was Jack McInerney who quieted D.C. United after he collected a ball in space and muscled himself past two defenders to put the Union ahead in just the seventh minute of play. Four minutes later, Casey made it 2-0, but the credit went to a great run down the flank from Cruz who cut the ball behind the defender, serving a gift which Casey coolly finished.

McInerney would net another in the 26th, pouncing on a loose ball in the box for his sixth goal in MLS regular season play and his third in as many matches.

“Confidence is everything for a young player, if you don’t have it you are never going to play as good as you can,” McInerney said following the match. “I think scoring obviously raises my confidence and if we keep winning games from me scoring then it’s only going to get better."

Watch: McInerney muscle his way to the game's first goal

D.C. United would threaten the Union’s cushion as midfielder Perry Kitchen scored in the 18th minute, followed by former Union forward Lionard Pajoy in the 47th minute. Pajoy’s goal proved his second of the season along with his second in as many games against the Union. Pajoy buried a near post header to put United within one, but a stingy defensive effort headlined by Jeff Parke and Amobi Okugo solidified a vital three point stand.

“It’s a huge three points,” said Union manager John Hackworth. “It’s on the road and it’s in a place in which we’ve never won before and that is massive for us. A little bit of a crazy game, but you would expect nothing else coming down here and having these two teams play. I thought we did some really good things, we didn’t hold [the lead] the way I would have wanted us…but we have three points here and that’s huge.”

Next Saturday brings another challenge on the road for the Union in New England (7:30 p.m., The Comcast Network). Although the Union has come away with a least a point in every game against the Revolution, the collective mindset is one well aware that the tragic events that took place at the Boston Marathon weigh heavy on a Revs side looking to win one at home for its fans in Foxboro.

“I think we need to sit down and go back to the drawing board and really analyze a game like this,” Cruz said. “Our coaches always prepare us for tough fights and this is going to be another one. We going into next week [against New England] playing a team that is a little bit down right now, but is going to be scrapping just like [D.C. United] did. We just have to be ready.”

Contact Union writer Kerith Gabriel at kgabriel@philadelphiaunion.com