Philadelphia Union once again showed how to grind down an opponent as they shut down and shut out DC United on the road Sunday evening in a 1-0 victory.
Kacper Przybylko danced in alone to notch the winner after Jamiro Monteiro found him in space behind the defense.
Daniel Gazdag, the newly signed attacking midfielder fresh off winning Player of the Year in Hungary, entered in the 67th minute for his first action in a Union kit.
DC United’s gameplan went out the window in the 4th minute when star playmaker Edinson Flores left the match and was replaced by Julian Gressel. Philly pushed to create a high-tempo match and in the 6th minute Leon Flach, restored to a No. 8 role with Jose Martinez’s return, lit into a long shot that skimmed the netting outside the near post. The home side responded with Adrien Perez finding space to run off of his defender’s shoulder and threaten Andre Blake’s net. Perez was again the key man in the 13th minute when he floated through the middle, exchanged a wall pass, and screwed a zippy shot toward goal as Jakob Glesnes flew through to block the ball away and protect his net.
The Union began to reassert themselves. After a corner popped straight up and Joe Kempin punched it away, Kai Wagner lasered the ball back into the mixer but Kempin crawled to recover his own rebound before anyone else could get involved.
Perez snuck a free kick low to Andre Blake’s right in the 23rd minute, but the Jamaican captain’s reflexed kicked in and he threw down a strong hand to push the shot away. That set up Wagner to stride forward once again and put rocket boosters on a shot that deflected up and around Kempin’s far post.
Next, Perez and Monteiro exchanged chances. First a close-range header from the DC United attacker was watched out of play by Blake, then the Union playmaker pushed a hard pass from the left toward the goal frame, but DC collapsed and cleared the ball off the line.
In added time, however, nobody would get in Przybylko’s way. Monteiro collected the ball in the same place as he did when sending Cory Burke through against Red Bulls on May 15th. This time the Ja’magic came in the form of a clipped aerial pass behind the defensive line. Przybylko rolled off his man and calmly deposited the ball just inside the near post. The offside flag was raised, but VAR showed that the Union striker’s patient run kept him onside.
Coming out of the locker room, first-year DC United head coach Hernan Losada pulled talented teenager Moses Nyeman and replaced him with poacher Ola Kamara.
Initially, the move worked as DC’s aggression created three chances for Perez inside of five minutes. Paul Arriola was charging into space up the right and Philly was pinned in their half.
Jim Curtin sought to unnerve DC’s wide men by inserting Sergio Santos to push the defensive line back. The head coach also gave Daniel Gazdag his MLS debut in place of Jose Martinez. The new signing’s debut showed a fast, strong, and aggressive attacker who clearly needs time to sync with his teammates. Gazdag was an active presser and clearly joins Major League Soccer with a point to prove.
On the night, though, Gazdag was satisfied helping his club take home three points from their I-95 rival. The win means Philly is 8-0-1 in their last nine matchups with DC United and becomes only the second team in the Eastern Conference to secure two road wins.
The Union are back in action with increased capacity at Subaru Park on Sunday, May 30 at 7:00 p.m. ET against Portland Timbers. Single game tickets are on-sale now for the first rematch since the MLS Is Back Tournament semi-finals.