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Game Recap: The Philadelphia Union blank the Vancouver Whitecaps 4-0

Union have one of their best wins of the season behind a Dockal brace and two spot kicks while the Whitecaps ended the match with nine men

MLS: Vancouver Whitecaps at Philadelphia Union Derik Hamilton-USA TODAY Sports

The Philadelphia Union took on the Vancouver Whitecaps today in a match played in wet conditions at Talen Energy Stadium. Kendall Waston missed out for the Whitecaps because the Costa Rica international was at the World Cup, while the Union were missing Haris Medunjanin through suspension.

The match also featured Sébastien Le Toux’s entry into the Philadelphia Union ring of honor at half-time. LeToux also played for Vancouver during his career in MLS, but he spent the bulk of his career with Philly.

The Union came out and rewarded the fans who came out to see the Union in person and see Le Toux honored through a well-played match in which they dominated the visitors from Canada. The Union scored two goals from open play and added two more from the penalty spot as they leaped into 6th place and a playoff spot, pending the results of the Orlando City - Montreal Impact match.

The Union enjoyed the bulk of play in the first 15 minutes, with the Union having a number of good chances to score the opening goal. Fafa Picault got a shot on net, but he was unable to get a lot of power on the shot and it was easily saved. A few minutes later, Alejandro Bedoya did well to get the ball into an advanced position and while the Whitecaps goalkeeper Brian Rowe spilled Bořek Dočkal’s shot, there wasn’t a Philly player close enough to take advantage.

Mark McKenzie did well to stop a Vancouver counter-attack after Techera got free and raced down the pitch. McKenzie made a great tackle to break up Tchera’s dribbling and no other Whitecap was close enough to make anything from the counter.

Dockal and Ilsinho did well to do put pressure on the Whitecaps down the right hand side, as a number of the attacks by the Union seemed to come down that side, getting a few shots on goal from that side, however a cross from the left hand side by Picault that started the play that resulted in the opening goal. Vancouver’s Brek Shea did a poor job of clearing the ball out of the box, and after a bit of a scramble, Dockal got a shot on net that Rowe wasn’t able to save.

The Whitecaps still weren’t able to find any solutions to Philadelphia’s efforts down the right-hand side, as home team still found plenty of space to attack. Dockal had another shot on net when it looked like the better option would have been to pass, and the Union continued to press the issue.

As the TSN announcers kept hyping up their teenage star Alphonso Davies, the Union were able to heap more pressure on the Union net. The Whitecaps were able to get a couple corner-kicks, but their efforts were poor and Andre Blake easily handled anything that Vancouver got into the six-yard box.

Right before half-time, the Union had a great chance to grab a second goal, but CJ Sapong was only able to put a free header well wide of the net. It was an effort that should have done more to test the keeper, if not put into the back of the net and Sapong’s finishing still seems to be lacking this season.

Halftime came and the Union were unlucky to only be up one goal as Philadelphia totally dominated the first half, with 15 shots, four on target, to Vancouver’s zero shots. The possession and passing statistics also favored the Union, but the contrast in shots really illustrated just how far apart the two teams were at the half.

The Union brass came out to honor Le Toux at half-time in front of the crowd and against the Whitecaps, a team that Le Toux spent 19 games at in 2012, after his first spell with the Union and before his second, and longer, spell with the Union that came between 2013 and 2016.

The Union opened up the second-half where the first half began. Philadelphia continued to heap pressure on Vancouver down the right hand side, with Keegan Rosenberry getting a good shot on net that forced a good save from Rowe.

Vancouver got a great counter-attack from Nico Mezquida that forced a good block and a fine save from Blake, but the resulting corner came to nothing after a Whitecap player had committed a foul in the box. However, the danger from the Whitecaps counter seemed to catch the Union by surprise and reminded everyone that the Union still needed another goal to really put this match away.

Bedoya had a chance to get a second goal for the Union, but his good shot on goal was well saved by Rowe. The Union kept the pressure on the Whitecap net without seeing a whole ton of good shots as the Whitecaps camped out to try and defend while looking to strike on the counter in the second half.

CJ Sapong was subbed off in the 66th minute for Corey Burke, as Sapong’s efforts on goal still seemed to lack the finishing that he had last year. Dockal got his second goal to put the Union up by two after a very good finish after getting free in the Vancouver box.

The Union absolutely put the game to bed in the 73rd minute. Jose Aja of the Whitecaps was tried to pull down Burke in the box at about the spot, and despite Burke staying on his feet and trying to get the shot off, Aja was sent off with a straight red and Ilsinho made no mistake from the spot.

Ilsinho’s day was over after the penalty as Marcus Epps came on for the Brazilian in the 76th minute. There was a slightly scary moment in the 84th minute as Anthony Blondell crashed into Mark McKenzie. McKenzie stayed down for a few minutes and the medical staff came out to treat him, but McKenzie was able to continue and Derrick Jones made an appearance in the 86th minute, coming on for Dockal who exited to well-earned applause.

The Union saw out the rest of the match without much trouble, as the Whitecaps seemed to just want the match to end and the Union seemed content just to pass the ball around and not really take any risks in order to further test Rowe.

Vancouver’s Yordy Reyna saw red in the 93rd minute after he took down Picault in the box from behind. And while Picault went down a little easier than you’d like to see, Reyna made a silly challenge when the match was already settled and the Union were able to put another goal on the board and scored another penalty as Picault put away the spot kick.

All in all, a good day at the office for the Union and a poor trip away from home for the Whitecaps. The Union will want to take their momentum from the win as they travel to LA to take on Los Angeles Football Club next Saturday.