There were times when it was not pretty, but thanks to Conor Casey's brace, the Philadelphia Union recorded a much needed three points at home against D.C. United Saturday night at PPL Park.
With D.C. United playing their youngest starting XI in franchise history and willing to sit back and defend, the Union found themselves struggling to break down the opposition. The Philadelphia Union frequently botched their chances either by mishitting a pass, mishitting a shot, or in the case of Jack McInerney in the 5th minute, getting denied on a palm save by Bill Hamid.
D.C. United never threatened Zac MacMath in the first half, registering just one off target shot, but things were looking dire for the home squad until the 35th minute when the Union finally broke through. Sheanon Williams crossed it from the right side to MLS assist leader Sebastien Le Toux who headed the ball down to Casey's foot who was able to beat a pair of defenders and poke the ball past Hamid and into the net for the half's only goal. After a frustrating half, the Union had to feel some weight off their shoulders as the Union should have been doing better with their other chances and United's complete lack of offensive bite.
The Union nearly got another goal in the 38th minute. Le Toux sent in a corner that Casey found but Hamid was able to make a great diving save. The Union would maintain possession of the ball after the save but were never able to register another shot on target during that sequence.
Dwayne De Rosario entered the match for Kyle Porter at the start of the second half and he injected some life into what had been a fairly lifeless D.C. United squad through the first 45. MacMath touched the ball for the first time all match in the 47th minute, when he intercepted a long ball.
The next 15 minutes featured a bunch of end to end action without any scoring. MacMath denied a Conor Doyle shot in the 54th minute and on the other end McInerney made a great pass to Danny Cruz who sprinted out too far and could only get off a tough angle shot while ignoring a streaking Casey at the far post. Just a few minutes later, De Rosario managed to break through a 1 v. 4 situation against the Union before being tackled in the box. The tackle led to the ball bouncing to Collin Martin who thought he was shooting at a wide open net but Williams managed to head it off the line. Jared Jeffrey managed to get a hold of a rebound but his follow-up shot was launched over the ball and into the crowd at PPL Park.
The Union broke through and cemented their victory in the 75th minute. The Union continued their trend of generating their attacks from out wide when Le Toux sent it out wide to Fabinho who crossed to Casey in the box. Casey slotted it underneath a diving Hamid who probably could have done better with it, and that would ultimately seal the deal and the three points for the Union.
The Union had numerous chances in the dying minutes and stoppage time, including a muffed McInerney breakaway, but the Union managed not to record any more goals. The two from Casey wound up being the only two of the match. And while McInerney will probably be frustrated himself for not scoring again as there were clearly moments in the match he was trying too hard, ultimately he and the Union will be satisfied at their 2-0 victory and climbing up to 3rd place in the Eastern Conference.
Up next for the Union is a critical Eastern Conference showdown at Red Bull Arena against New York Red Bulls. The Union have had their struggles at Red Bull Arena in the past and will hope to correct those with what would wind up being a massive win should they pull out the three points next Saturday.