An early goal glut propelled the Philadelphia Union to their third win of the season, as Jack McInerney and Conor Casey scored within four minutes of each other to start a high scoring affair against rivals D.C. United.
Both teams attempted to feel out their opponents, with neither side getting a proper opportunity on net until the Union struck home in the seventh minute through McInerney. Recently described as the "American Chicharito," a reference to Manchester United's Javier Hernandez, McInerney put his poacher instincts to use after a tackle by Brian Carroll sent the ball to an open Casey.
The former Colorado Rapids great put a through ball between two United defender, but it was trailing the onside McInerney. After coming back for the ball, McInerney slowed down and split the defense by himself, then put a shot into the right side of the net from just inside the 18, beating Hamid.
Casey got his goal a few minutes later via nicely put together assist by Cruz. Sheanon Williams fed Cruz a through ball down the right side of the field and Cruz beat his marker by sharply cutting the ball back at the edge of the 18.
Cruz followed up his move by finding Casey moving toward the to of the 18 and the veteran striker hit a left footed shot past Hamid on the right side.
United was able to take advantage of a lacking Union midfield and a mistake by Philadelphia's defense to pull within a goal in the 17th minute. Dwayne DeRosario got behind the Union defense near the endline in the box and fed an onrushing Perry Kitchen close to the penalty spot. Kitchen took his chance and Zac MacMath was unable to make a save on his shot.
For the next eight or so minutes, the Union and United went back and forth in possession while trading small opportunities in both team's boxes. Then McInerney broke through again, this time by repeating his right place, right time approach from last week's Toronto FC game.
Williams tossed one of his patented long throw-ins into the box and flicked on by Amobi Okugo. McInerney got possession on the left side of the United box before slotting home his second goal of the day in the 26th minute.
The play from then on out for both sides was somewhat muted, with most opportunities until the whistle for half time falling short of threatening either goalkeeper's net. The Union were comfortably ahead 3-1 as the teams went into the locker room underneath RFK.
Almost immediately after the restarting of play, the Union gave a corner kick to United. While D.C. did not profit off of the Union's concession, United did end up getting another goal.
Former Union striker Lionard Pajoy headed home a cross from Daniel Woolard to bring United within a goal of the Union. Woolard sent a cross in from the right and Pajoy ran across the box from left to right while escaping his marker, before meeting the cross and putting it beyond MacMath.
His goal in the 48th minute gave Pajoy the sole share of United's goal scoring leader moniker, as it upped his season total to two goals in seven games.
The goal began a series of give and take play, reminiscent of the early first half difficulties faced by the two clubs. Then Cruz struck using his hustle and speed.
Cruz ran onto a through ball in the box that Hamid seemed to have within his grasp, but was unable to turn the opportunity into a goal due to the lack of angle on his shot. His smart play ended in a goal kick.
United's best opportunities for the next 10 minutes or so ended in either failed corner kicks or blocked shots. Brandon McDonald decided to take the game into his own hands a few times and tried to launch long range efforts at goal, but only one of them actually bothered MacMath - it was deflected.
Union head coach John Hackworth decided to remove Michael Farfan in favor of Michael Lahoud in the 68th minute. Farfan was forced to play out of position on the left in Hackworth's starting lineup and was unable to contribute much to the game.
Hackworth gave Lahoud a role with a little bit of attacking freedom, but mostly he was thrown on to attempt to settle the game defenisvely. Lahoud, a former right back and right midfielder with Chivas USA, did not change much due to a lack of change in formation shape to take into account his role in the game.
United countered that tactical move by bringing on another former Union striker, Carlos Ruiz. The Guatemalan forward annoyed Union defenders in his typical fashion and almost caused panic for Philadelphia on multiple occasions.
Antoine Hoppenot came on for the Union, not long after Ruiz's introduction, for McInerney, who left the game without grabbing his first ever professional hat trick. Despite the fresh legs of both Hoppenot and Lahoud, the Union were a shell of the first half version of themselves that went up 3-1 on United.
D.C. held a vast amount of the possession from the 70th minute on, poking at holes in the Union defense and forcing bad tackles from Philadelphia players to prevent deep chances from being created. The Union were only able to move forward through the speed of Cruz, who was usually ahead of the the rest of his teammates on counters, and Hoppenot.
Philadelphia brushed away D.C.'s almost frenzied attack for the last ten minutes of the game, using counters to draw out United's defense and to take pressure off of its own. The Union were, however, unable to make United pay on any of those opportunities, including one in which Daniel was one-on-one with Hamid.
Robbie Russell went on for Raphael Augusto, who had come into the game as a sub for DCU at the half, late and the Union used their last substitution to take off Cruz for Gabriel Farfan. Farfan would get his chance at goal, but chipped the goalkeeper and the net.
Keon Daniel made his presence known in stoppage time as he raced in toward Hamid, but the American international made himself big and kick saved it out of the area.
The fourth official held up his board for five minutes of stoppage time not too long from there and the Union were able to hold onto their one goal lead, barely, as United put a consistent effort in their attack for the entirety of the added time.
The last real opportunity for United came just before the final whistle, but MacMath swallowed up Ruiz's free kick from about 25-yards away and with that went D.C's hopes for stealing a point from Philadelphia.