It started early and it didn't let up until the 36th minute. The Union ran riot over DC United in the first half on their way to a 3-1 win. Jim Curtin rolled out a 4-2-3-1 shape with Ilsinho and Brenden Aaronson on the wings, and both players made their mark.
Time flies when you’re having fun, and the first half absolutely sped by for Philadelphia Union. DC United had no answers up the Union left as Brenden Aaronson and Kai Wagner combined in the fifth minute to set up Kacper Przybylko for the opening goal of the match. Aaronson laid a pass behind the defense to Wagner and then the German connection took over. Wagner’s low, front-post ball was tapped home by Przybylko as he zipped across the face of goal.
And after 12 minutes of pressure, the Union had another. Once again, Przybylko and Aaronson were involved, with the big striker setting up his teenaged teammate. A beautiful ball between the lines from Przybylko found Aaronson alone in the center and the Homegrown midfielder spun to his left and eased his second career goal past Bill Hamid.
In the 22nd minute, Wagner had his own look at goal off a set piece, putting his laces behind a shot from the top of the box that just cleared the crossbar.
Aaronson was once again the danger man as the half-hour mark approached. Another stellar combination play up the left freed him to cut onto his right and unleash a drive that Hamid was forced to smother.
Then Ilsinho decided to end things once and for all. Played into the box by Przybylko, the Brazilian turned and, seeing nobody in front of him, danced into a position he liked and drove home the third goal of the first half.
The Union’s magician nearly had a second in the 39th minute when Haris Medunjanin drifted out to the left and spotted his teammate in the center. A low, accurate cross provided Ilsinho with a look on his left foot but he lifted his shot over the bar.
It wasn’t all smooth sailing for Philly, though. As the 40th minute approached, a floated cross found Ola Kamara in the center of the box and he placed a perfect header low to Andre Blake’s right. The Union goalie isn’t an All-Star for nothing though, and he dropped quickly to the turf and stoned the incredulous Norwegian striker before pushing away the rebound.
Luciano Acosta pulled one back for DC in the 56th minute, but DC’s pressure left Philly with opportunities to counter. Unable to grab a second, United became more physical as the final minutes wore down. Marco Fabian and Fafa Picault both had big chances to put home a fourth, but in the end the Union settled for a 3-1 win that will make next Saturday’s showdown with Atlanta United a battle for first place in the Eastern Conference.
That battle takes place at 7:30 p.m. ET at Talen Energy Stadium as the Union celebrate 90s Night with the Philly faithful. The match will be live on PHL17.