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Union fall to DCU in preseason finale

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An early flurry of goals lifted D.C. United over the Union as both teams closed out their preseason.

MLS: Philadelphia Union vs D.C. United Jonathan Dyer-USA TODAY Sports

After a disastrous first 25 minutes, the Philadelphia Union rallied to make their loss to D.C. United look a bit more respectable.

DCU stormed the Union defense early on, finding goals through Patrick Nyarko, Jared Jeffrey, and Patrick Mullins in a span of just 10 minutes.

Nyarko opened up the scoring in the 14th minute, taking advantage of two sloppy turnovers by Oguchi Onyewu to slip into a dangerous position. His curled effort brushed the hand of Andre Blake just before it hit the back of the net.

United doubled their lead in the 21st thanks in large part to the work of Luciano Acosta. As a result of some lackadaisical defending, the diminutive playmaker sent in an uncontested cross that found Jared Jeffrey, who had gotten goal-side of Richie Marquez. The midfielder needed only a side-footed tap to put the ball past Blake for his team’s second.

DCU’s third and finest goal came off the boot of Patrick Mullins. The fourth-year forward faced up Oguchi Onyewu from 25 yards out, shook loose of the veteran defender, and fired a boomer to the top left corner.

Despite the disastrous scoreline at the end of the first half, the Union’s defense might have considered themselves lucky to only be down three. A pair of uncalled shoves in the box from Ilsinho and Richie Marquez kept DC from expanding their lead, as did Andre Blake when he denied Sean Franklin’s strong effort off a corner kick.

The Union utilized a corner kick to narrow the lead just six minutes into the second half, as the two center backs combined to create a goal on the other side of the field. After sending a header off the post, Richie Marquez lofted a ball to the far post, where Oguchi Oneywu was waiting to nod it home.

Marcus Epps’s curled effort pulled his team within one in the 86th minute, but the Union could not complete the comeback. They ended the game with ten men, as Alejandro Bedoya was shown a second yellow for a foolish shove just before full time.

The loss, the Union’s first this preseason, serves as the team’s final warmup before they open up their season in Vancouver next weekend. They’ll take on the Whitecaps at 9:30 PM ET next Sunday, March 5th.

Lineups

Philadelphia Union (4-2-3-1): Andre Blake; Fabinho, Richie Marquez, Oguchi Onyewu, Keegan Rosenberry; Haris Medunjanin, Alejandro Bedoya; Chris Pontius, Fabian Herbers (Derrick Jones 62'), Ilsinho (Marcus Epps 75'); Jay Simpson (CJ Sapong 46')

D.C. United (4-1-4-1): Bill Hamid; Taylor Kemp, Sean Franklin, Steven Birnbaum, Nick DeLeon; Marcelo Sarvas (Rob Vincent 76’); Patrick Nyarko (Maxim Tissot 76’), Luciano Acosta (Ian Harkes 58’), Jared Jeffrey, Lloyd Sam; Patrick Mullins

Notes:

  • This being the Union’s last game before the season, tonight’s starting XI will likely be very similar to the one the team sends out against Vancouver.
  • One change we might see on Sunday is at the focal point of the attack. Fabian Herbers, who has lined up as a winger for much of his time with the Union, was deployed as a No. 10 tonight. He never made much of an impact, and was eventually brought off in the 62nd minute, at which point Alejandro Bedoya moved into that spot.
  • So, who will we see in central midfield next weekend? Derrick Jones lined up alongside Haris Medunjanin in the previous two preseason games, and he did the same in the last half hour of tonight’s friendly. When those two play, Alejandro Bedoya moves into more of an attacking role. With Maurice Edu still working to get back to full fitness, Fabian Herbers looking uncomfortable orchestrating the attack, and Roland Alberg strangely out of the conversation, I expect Jones, Medunjanin, and Bedoya to start on Sunday.
  • Oguchi Onyewu looks very much like a 34-year-old who hasn’t played professionally since 2015. With Josh Yaro out until at least May, the Union defense will have a clear weak link for the first few months of the season.