By Sarah Berkowitz
The Union got another stellar performance by 2016 MLS goalkeeper of the year Andre Blake last night!
And they earned the victory over D.C. United with a 1-0 shutout win in front of a crowd of 17,656 at Talen Energy Stadium that clinched the season series 2-1.
The match was scoreless after the first 30 minutes, with D.C. creating most of the pressure. Blake was able to keep D.C. off the board though, with a diving save, denying highly touted rookie Ian Harkes.
Philly finally broke through in the 31st minute thanks to tremendous build up from the right side of the Union Starting XI. After Ray Gaddis received a pass from Jack Elliott, the Union right back sent a beautiful ball under pressure to Union Captain Alejandro Bedoya, as he penetrated the D.C. zone.
Bedoya sent in a ball just before entering the box to the near side for a streaking Fafa Picault. With his left foot, Picault instantaneously connected with the pass and fired a bullet to the net, beating D.C. United goalkeeper Bill Hamid to give the Union the 1-0 lead and that was the count at intermission as well.
The match remained tame throughout the next 35 minutes until D.C. had an opportunity to tie the match. D.C. United’s Taylor Kemp sent a ball forward, when Union defender Oguchi Onyewu found himself inadvertently in its path. Onyewu was whistled for a handball in the box and D.C. United was awarded a penalty kick.
Lamar Neagle stepped up to the penalty spot for D.C. and attempted to tie the match. Blake dove to his right and denied Neagle, with Union supporters blowing the roof off of Talen Energy Stadium.
Union leading goal-scorer CJ Sapong nearly sealed the deal for Philly in the 73rd minute after a corner attempt found its way to Sapong’s foot. After a spinarooni, from Sapong, his shot attempt was pushed over the crossbar keeping the match at 1-0.
Moments later, complete pandemonium filled the pitch as referee Sorin Stoica issued D.C. United’s Luciano Acosta a red card after getting tangled up with Haris Medunjanin. After further review it was determined that there was no infraction and Acosta was allowed to stay in the match.
The play of the match came in stoppage time and again, it was Blake who continued to show his late game heroics. D.C. United gave one last effort to earn a road point as Acosta sent a perfect ball in the box for Neagle. After a ferocious header from point blank range, Blake was able to tip the ball with his outstretched arm to save the match and secure three points for Philadelphia.
The Union will return to action this week for both U.S. Open Cup competition as well as MLS regular season play.
Philly will square off with rival New York Red Bulls on Wednesday in New Jersey and New England next Sunday at Talen Energy Stadium.