Top Stories

DC United extend lead atop East by knocking off Union in Hackworth’s debut

PhillyDC (HowardSmithISI)

Photo by Howard C. Smith/


CHESTER, Pa. — They may have a new head coach, but it was the same old story in front of goal for the Philadelphia Union on Saturday night and DC United made them pay.

Chris Ponitus converted a Branko Boskovic free kick in the 78th minute and that was all DC United needed to spoil John Hackworth's first game as interim team manager of the Union, as DC went on to win the game, 1-0 in front of 18,876 fans at PPL Park.

Philadelphia came out with plenty of energy and controlled the tempo for more than an hour to start the game. But they couldn't convert any of their chances, and when Valdes lost track of Pontius in the box on a set piece situation, DC made the Union pay and took the 1-0 lead.

DC United began to control more possession after their goal, and despite some good attacking substitutions by Philadelphia, they managed to hold on for a quality win that kept them in first place in the Eastern Conference.

"They caused a lot of problems with guys that had freedom to roam," said DC United coach Ben Olsen. "They were good — give them a lot of credit. At the end of the day, it’s about winning games. We defended the box real well all night long. That’s what you have to do in away games in this league."

In his debut game as interim team manager of the Union, Hackworth opted for a new-look lineup that included Amobi Okugo at center back, Josue Martinez at wide midfielder, and Jack McInerney at striker. The team largely dominated DC for the entire first half, registering nine total shots and three on target compared to United's two shots, neither of which were on target.

"We were playing some pretty decent soccer. On the field, it felt like we were just taking it to them," said Freddy Adu. "They barely created anything."

Things mostly continued that way in the second half too, but in the 78th minute Chris Pontius was taken down by Carlos Valdes outside the penalty area. While it was a questionable foul call, DC United took advantage of the opportunity and scored a goal when Branko Boskovic's free kick was tapped in by Pontius at the far post.

"They scored off the one chance they got," Adu said. "If that call doesn't go against us, maybe we're looking at a different game. The referee blew the whistle too early. Carlos (Valdes) did get the ball. Looking at the replay he might have barely touched him, but he gets the ball first."

Philadelphia brought on attacking options like Antoine Hoppenot and new signing Jorge Perlaza late in the second half, but it wasn't enough. DC defended well and even enjoyed some long spells of possession, and they held on for the 1-0 win.

It was a familiar result for Philadelphia, which since its inception has been known to dominate teams at times but also frequently fail to finish quality chances. It cost the Union once again Saturday, as they remained in second-to-last place in the East after the first game of the Hackworth era.

"The guys played fantastic," said Hackworth after the game. "If we play that way every week, we're going to win a lot of games. It's awfully disappointing, but I think there are a lot of positives to take out of this game."

DC United, meanwhile, came away with a solid win on the road against a hated rival, and they managed to do it despite having a tough time holding on to the ball for much time throughout large stretches of the match. With the win, United remained in first in the Eastern Conference.

"We didn’t play particularly well tonight,” Pontius added. "They had most of the possession, and the better of the game. But our defense came up huge, and we didn’t give them many solid chances. And in these games it's about finding ways to win, and we did that tonight."

Next week, first-place DC travels to Red Bull Arena to face New York on Sunday. Philadelphia, meanwhile, will stay at home to host Sporting Kansas City on Saturday at PPL Park.


  1. No, the homophobia is all in your mind (which is cool and you’re free to live the life you want). I was commenting on how talking tough is easy to do on a computer, and letting him/her know that it sets you up for an equally mature response. Similar to how you replied to me by attacking my masculinity. It’s all fair game.

  2. why would either of their teams want to loan them? goodson is the captain of his team for crying out loud and gooch is the starting CB for sporting…

  3. ^^It’s Obama’s fault why the Union can’t get things together. I believe it’s Bradly’s the one responsible for Adu not scoring 2566 goals in a season. Next time get it right.

  4. no. that would be a total waste of money. If Nowak had been around I’d say yes, but thankfully I think that silliness might be for someone else.

    We need a tall center back to pair with Valdes and a tall striker that can finish. one those tow items are in place and the goals start coming I think we see the entire team catch the wave.

    crazy thought: can the Union arrange a loan for Gooch Onyewu or Clarence Goodson?

  5. well to be fair, he is our DP. If he wants the team built around him (which it now is essentially) he now has to produce. Also, it’s come time in his career where a lot of folks around him (Jurgen Klinsmann comes to mind) are saying “put up on the club level and until then shut up about international call-ups).

    I saw a lot of good things, and cannot wait to see him and Torres and Marfan on the field as our midfield.

    But we NEED GOALS.

  6. Looking at the stats it’s seems to me that Adu played well. 25 successful passes in which most are balls seeking players foreward. Most of his passes are attack minded passes exactly why he had a lot of unsuccessful passing as well. Look at the heat board. Adu is not making an easy pass backwards or sqaure. It’s more diagonal balls and through balls.
    Usually the defense collapses on Adu hence why he has more possession lost. Samething happens to Dero for D.C. Adu is trying to make things happen. You want your skilled players on the ball more.

  7. Adu was one of Philly’s more dangerous players on the night. Gotta love Adu haters.

    Adu didn’t do this, Adu didn’t do that. Blah, blah, blah, blah. Fans love to nitpick on better players. Always will.

  8. Anyone think Philly will make a move for Schevchenko. God knows they need a finisher, and he and his wife have a house in the Maryland area which is not far from Philly.

    I think it could potentially be a good move for Philly. With Adu’s through balls to Schevchenlo finishing them off. Philly already plays attractive soccer; they just need a ruthless finisher.

  9. No clue what you’re seeing there. The ball dropped right n=on to Pontius’ foot, and nicely redirected for the goal.

  10. @Tacosando – Sarcasm aside, Adu doesn’t need to hustle more, he needs to get rid of the ball faster. He holds the ball for too long and misses teammates making good runs and allows defenses to get back and get set. Then he either loses the ball or makes a posession-saving pass that kills attacking momentum. Check out the Opta chalkboards on the game, Adu was “tackled and lost possession” 23 times. Add to that the fact that 43% of his passes were “unsuccessful” and his impact is pretty well summed up.

  11. Looked like a handball in the scoring play in the replays. Watchimg on galavision so Couldn’t understand the announcers

  12. @wilbur06 – ha! 4-4-3 would definitely help Philly though I don’t know how much. I meant 4-3-3. Though we could be onto something here – deputize the goalie as centerback and have him sprint back between the posts whenever the other team attacks. Tactical revolution!

  13. Good lord, McInerny is garbage. He made a few good runs and worked hard, but otherwise, he was pretty poor. Hoppenot looked far more dangerous than McInerny and either he or Perlaza should start next game.

    other thoughts:
    – Philly has no size and look very vulnerable on set pieces.

    – Philly’s 4-4-3 worked well vs. DC’s 4-4-2 as Carroll neutralized DeRosario and the extra man in midfield allowed Philly to pass around DC easily.

    – DC had an entire section of fans which is pretty solid representation.

    – The gap between Freddy Adu’s confidence and actual ability is staggering. While he wasn’t the worst performer tonight, he is still far from being the best.

  14. Meanwhile LeToux makes an MVP finish for Vancouver 0_o

    Adu and the boys looked pretty good, but they need to find a way to finish.

  15. Feel bad for Hackworth. Nowak got rid of all the quality forwards so its no surprise when the sroty after a game is that they created but couldnt finish chances.


Leave a Comment