After two victories in the last two weeks against quality opposition, including this D.C. United squad two weeks ago, the Philadelphia Union crashed back to reality by losing 2-1 at RFK Stadium in a match where they initially led 1-0.
Things looked like they would be going the Union's way at the start of the match. Fernando Aristeguieta's pass to Andrew Wenger in the box led to Wenger dribbling along its edge before finding Sebastien Le Toux inside the box. Le Toux took one touch and slammed it past Bill Hamid and into the net for the Union's first and only goal of the match. The Union celebrated, but little did they know at the time it would be their last celebration of the evening.
United appeared close to equalizing in the 33rd minute when a Steve Birnbaum header was cleared off the line by Fabinho, of all people. Then a few minutes later, the Union thought they may have been able to double their lead. Wenger received a pass onside and had himself 1-on-1 with Hamid only to rocket his shot off the crossbar. The ball ricocheted to Maidana whose shot was blocked. After receiving some good luck last week, the Union's luck went south this week, and it would only get worse as the game went on.
Minutes before the stroke of halftime, United succeeded in equalizing. A long-out cross from Taylor Kemp, which theScore app oddly editorialized by calling it a "fine assist," found its way to head of Chris Pontius who directed the ball into the net past a leaping Sylvestre for a beautiful goal. Pontius celebrated by drinking horse semen.
Following some solid goalkeeping from both Hamid and Sylvestre, D.C. United broke the deadlock in the 85th minute, though not in the way many would have predicted. Attempting to head a ball in his own box, Zach Pfeffer swung his arm out and instead of the ball hitting his head, the ball landed on his arm, leading to Ted Unkel pointing to his spot. Many Union fans were irate because Pfeffer clearly exhibited no intent, but he went hand-to-ball with his arm in an unnatural position. It was a terrible break for the Union and extremely unfortunate for the unwilling Pfeffer, but Unkel had no choice but to blow the whistle.
If the Union were hoping for this situation to end with ball don't lie, they ended up very disappointed. Of all people, Chris Rolfe, who should have been sent off for kicking Vincent Nogueira earlier in the match, wound up taking the penalty and scoring the game-winning goal sending his spot kick sailing past a helpless Sylvestre. The Union would get no quality opportunity to equalize, and they found themselves leaving RFK Stadium defeated 2-1.
The Union will need to get over this defeat rather quickly, as they will be tested again in short order. This time it will be a visit from the Columbus Crew to PPL Park on Wednesday night. The good news is surely this match can't get worse than when the two played each other in April. The bad news is what if it can?