The Philadelphia Union entered tonight hoping for their first win since August 27. However, that was not to be as an early D.C. goal and a controversial penalty kick call doomed a Union side by a score of 2-1 on a messy-looking RFK Stadium pitch.
The match started out a bit awkward from both sides clearly trying to find their footing after not playing for a couple of weeks. An early speculative shot from Fabinho got the match going a bit and then in the 18th minute D.C. United found the back of the net. An awkward Andre Blake clearance was played by Fabinho off his head, however Fabinho’s header went nowhere way too fast and Lloyd Sam quickly picked it up in space. Sam crossed the ball into Jose Ortiz and Ortiz fired a shot toward goal that deflected off Richie Marquez and into the net, leaving Blake without a chance of making the save.
The 25th minute saw a moment of controversy and one that would doom the Union to leave RFK with no points. Ortiz played in a ball that deflected off the arm of Marquez in the box. The official turned to his assistant, then turned back to the spot and gave a nice point towards it, teeing up Luciano Acosta for a penalty. Acosta sent one to the corner of the goal and while Blake dove the right way he was unable to prevent the shot from going into the back of the net. As for the initial penalty call itself, it seemed somewhat questionable with many arguing both for and against it. Though the ball did clearly strike Marquez’s upper-arm/shoulder, it did appear as though it may have been in a natural position. That mattered little to this officiating crew though, who went ahead and gave the penalty to United, putting them up two goals.
The Philadelphia Union tried to rally in the second half and in the 64th minute got an opportunity as Keegan Rosenberry’s shot attempt from outside the box required a diving save attempt from Hamid. Unfortunately for the young defender though, Hamid was successful in pushing the ball out for a harmless corner. Hamid would cease to be successful in the 71st minute, though. Playing the ball forward, Ilsinho found Jones in the box. Jones laid it off for Bedoya who got a shot at goal blocked by Hamid. However, Hamid left a juicy rebound for C.J. Sapong who latched onto the rebound and buried it past the United keeper to pull the Union within one. Though Sapong started the game on the bench, the Union were much more effective with him in the match instead of Jay Simpson, who got the start at forward in tonight’s 4-2-3-1, and the results speak for themselves in that regard.
The Union had a chance to equalize a few minutes later. Fabian Herbers, another 2nd half substitute, got off a cross to Sapong in the box, and Sapong cut past United defender Bobby Boswell for a crack at goal, but Hamid was there to meet him. On a corner kick a couple minutes later, Oguchi Onyewu got a header at goal only to have it cleared off the line by a well-positioned Marcelo Sarvas. And that would be it for the Union’s opportunities to draw even. One goal out of two is all they were able to get as all three points went to United tonight.
Up next for the Union is a return home, only their second home match of the season, for a match against the Portland Timbers. Although the Union will likely be facing long odds, hopefully the Union will be able to finally get their season started next Saturday with a home win against the first place Timbers.