Match Recap

Recap | Explosive first half sees Union down D.C. United 3-1


A first half flurry of goals led Philadelphia Union to a perfect return to league play as they knocked off rivals D.C. United on the road, 3-1.

The Boys in Blue needed just five minutes to open the scoring against their I-95 rivals with Mikael Uhre scoring in his second-straight contest. Homegrown Jack McGlynn doubled the Union’s advantage in the 13th minute with a smooth finish while Daniel Gazdag notched his 36th career goal with a finish from the penalty spot to tie C.J. Sapong for second place in the club history.

After playing to back-to-back scoreless draws in their previous two meetings, the Union were hungry for goals and needed little time to take control of the match. During their high press to put the D.C. United backline under pressure, the Boys in Blue turned defense into offense in the fifth minute. Triggered off a back pass from Pedro Santos, Jesus Bueno and Daniel Gazdag timed their pressure perfectly to force center back Derrick Williams and quickly the Hungarian shot a pass to Julian Carranza. The Argentine striker turned to his right on a dime and hit a low pass to Uhre for the one-time finish that crashed off the keeper and into the back of the net for the early lead.

Philly didn’t let off after the opening strike again turning a turnover into another scoring chance for the visitors. Jose Martinez went on a one-man show, getting possession inside the Union’s 18 and flicking a pass over a D.C. United player before running down the ball before it crossed over the sideline. A deft touch had the Venezuelan around a slide tackle from Santos that took him further into the attacking zone to line up a hard pass into the box. Again Carranza was the target man but midfielder Chris Durkin briefly got a touch to tip the pass away from the forward and toward the backpost. Homegrown Jack McGlynn was headed to the far post on the counter attack and quickly shot a left-footed touch to the far side that crashed off a diving attempt by a defender but couldn’t stop the Union from a 2-0 lead inside the opening 13 minutes.

The Union were flying high but shortly after the goal, play was stopped for Martinez to receive treatment and opted to continue before being replaced by Leon Flach in the 26th minute of play. Before the change however, D.C. United attempted to begin their comeback with a combination play at the top of the box between Durkin and Mateusz Klich that required the first save of the night from Andre Blake in his club-record 222nd league match.

After the defensive stand, Philly continued to rack up chances just after the half-hour mark. Jakob Glesnes saw the space on the flank and smashed a long-diagonal pass to Kai Wagner on the left side to jumpstart the attack. Wagner took a single touch the shot a pass inside to Carranza whose heavy touch benefited the club in the end. Seeing Uhre unmarked behind him, Carranza laid off a pass for the Danish striker who seemed destined for a brace but was denied by a Williams’ block. Presented with a set piece chance the Union continued to push for a third to put the game away early with a recycled ball allowing a one-timer for Jesus Bueno to unleash a shot that was blocked once again.

Despite the blocked shot, Philly kept pushing and were rewarded with another scoring chance from the penalty spot. Looking to get their top playmaker involved in the match, Gazdag drifted back to the halfway line to receive the ball and quickly shot a volley over the top to spring Carranza free. Goalkeeper Tyler Miller wasn’t afraid to come off his line but saw the ball chipped by Carranza before colliding with the striker. The referee quickly raced over and awarded the Boys in Blue a penalty and flashed a yellow card to the keeper. After setting up the play, Gazdag stood over the ball from the penalty spot and remained flawless in league play with his ninth goal from the spot in 2023 to make it 3-0 in favor of the Boys in Blue. Gazdag’s finish was his 36th for the Union in league play, tying in for second in team history with C.J Sapong in just 78 games played.

While the goals were flowing on one side of the pitch, D.C. United got some chances from their newest acquisition Gabriel Pirani with the Brazilian forcing a save from Blake just before the halftime whistle.

D.C. United head coach Wayne Rooney made two changes at the break including in goal with Alex Bono replacing Miller at halftime. Philly attempted to test the keeper early with a long-range chip from Gazdag followed by a Bueno shot that was turned aside. The homeside nearly got back into the match with their own scoring effort five minutes into the half that tested but saw the Union’s backline ace it. Mateusz Klich teed up a perfectly weighted cross into the box for Christian Benteke that forced a highlight-reel save from the three-time MLS Goalkeeper of the Year to keep the cleansheet. The ball fell to the post where Benteke attempted another shot that again was blocked before sending a centering pass for Klich. The midfielder unleashed a blast of his own as Blake got back into position but was denied as well with a headed effort by Glesnes.

Just past the hour mark Jim Curtin turned to some fresh legs with Alejandro Bedoya and Chris Donovan entering for Bueno and Carranza. With the energy off the bench, Donovan sought to add to Philly’s lead in the 66th minute but saw his effort blocked on the right side of the 18. On the other end again the hosts attempted to breakout on the counter where again Benteke was blocked by Glesnes.

D.C. United thought they had finally snapped their scoreless streak against Philly in the 84th minute with a set piece chance play and second effort. Substitute Eric Davis whipped in a cross that connected that Benteke flicked back for another shot from Klich that forced another reaction save from Blake. The ball spilled out and was put in by Jose Fajardo but the offside flag quickly was raised. A second look from the video assistant referee confirmed the call with the initial touch from the D.C. United forward beyond the last Union defender.

The hosts finally broke with a golazo effort from another substitute with Ted Ku-DiPietro making a strong run through the middle of the park before ripping a laser inside the upper 90 to make it a 3-1 scoreline and snap the Union’s over 400+ minute shutout streak against their rivals.

The Union wrap up August with a midweek trip north of the border against Toronto FC on Wednesday, August 30th. Kick off from Toronto is set for 7:30PM ET with the action on MLS Season Pass on Apple TV.