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Game Changers: Destroyed Completely

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The Philadelphia Union put in a commanding performance against D.C. United.

MLS: D.C. United at Philadelphia Union Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports

1.) CJ Sapong - Simply put, when he’s on the field the Philadelphia Union are a far more dangerous team. Since he went out with his ankle injury against Columbus on June 1, the Union had conceded 10 goals while scoring 8 - not a good thing considering the Union are one of the highest scoring - and highest conceding - teams in MLS, currently having scored more goals than any other team while conceding the eighth-most in the league. With this sort of ratio, the goals have to keep coming. While Sapong didn’t score any, his presence forced the D.C. United defense to focus on him, leaving the midfield to be able to create chances.

2.) Kofi Opare and the terrible, horrible, no good, very bad day - United fans had been clamoring to see Opare get minutes over Bobby Boswell, and Opare wound up with 65 minutes of playing time. Unfortunately for United, this is what he managed to do:

He got caught going the wrong way against former D.C. United man Chris Pontius, and stuck his leg out in what might have been one of the easiest penalty calls Sorin Stoica has ever had. As if that wasn’t bad enough, he then did this:

Opare wasn’t even trying to play the ball. He just went in knee-to-knee on Pontius, and was deservedly sent off. He’ll miss next week’s match, but more importantly the Union played up a man for 25 minutes and didn’t concede a goal like always seems to happen when they’re up a man. This isn’t your older brother’s Union team indeed.

3.) Deconstructing the first goal - So Opare stuck his leg out out, and Stoica pointed to the spot. Unfortunately, the video didn’t show how Tranquillo Barnetta sprung Pontius on the play.

Tranquillo Barnetta’s brilliant through ball sets up the first penalty for the evening.
Tranquillo Barnetta’s brilliant through ball sets up the first penalty for the evening.

Nick DeLeon got completely turned inside out on this one, but credit Pontius and Barnetta for being on the same page here. Pontius saw DeLeon try to collapse back in toward Barnetta and took off down field. Barnetta saw this and hit Pontius in stride. The rest was history.

4.) The Il-est - This was the game that Ilsinho put it all together. From ankle breaking footwork:

Ilsinho showing off his technical mastery.
Ilsinho showing off his technical mastery.

To drawing penalties:

To scoring from the spot:

To scoring from the run of play:

It was the Ilsinho show against D.C. He still didn’t do a full 90, but that level of production in only 68 minutes is impressive. The Union have a midweek friendly against Crystal Palace on Wednesday, and perhaps he’ll be rested for the Union’s match against Red Bull on Sunday.

5.) Bill Hamid kept it respectable - Very rarely does a team lose 3-0 and I praise the goalkeeper, but without Hamid’s heroics it could have easily been 5-0 or 6-0. I actually felt pity on Hamid - his defense continually let him down and at times just seemed to have clocked out. He made a few fantastic saves in the process too:

6.) But of course, Andre Blake was Andre Blake - One of the Union’s two All-Stars showed why he was voted the number one goalkeeper by MLS fans: