By RYAN TOLMICH
Luis Silva’s 10th-minute finish continued D.C. United’s dominance atop the Eastern Conference while also striking a major blow to the playoff hopes of the Philadelphia Union.
D.C. United topped the visiting Union on Saturday, 1-0, via Silva’s strike, which increased the team’s lead atop the Eastern Conference to six points.
Silva’s opener came after the Union failed to clear their lines, giving D.C. United an extended period of possession. The ball eventually found its way to Chris Korb, who delivered a floating cross to Silva, whose header left Union goalkeeper Rais M’bolhi helplessly standing as the ball hit the back of the net. The goal was Silva’s 11th of the season and third in two games.
Matters got worse for the Union in the 22nd minute, as Sebstian Le Toux was forced to depart the game due to a right ankle sprain.
The hosts would have doubled their advantage in the 27th minute if not for the heroics of Union defender Carlos Valdes.
Valdes saved his side with a pair of goal-line clearances, the first of which came via a sprinting effort to prevent Fabian Espindola’s chip from trickling over the line. The ensuing clearance rolled back to Espindola, who centered the ball to Silva. The Mexican- American forward’s shot was on target, but Valdes was there once again to block, allowing the rest of his defense to recover and clear the ball away.
As per usual, the D.C. United defense remained stout throughout the game, but the visitors did put together a chance in the 47th minute.
Union forward Andrew Wenger’s long-distance cross proved to be threatening, as substitute Danny Cruz latched on in the center of the box. The midfielder’s ensuing shot was kick-saved by a rushing Bill Hamid in what proved to be the toughest of the D.C. United goalkeeper’s four saves on the afternoon.
With the victory, D.C. United move six points clear of the New England Revolution, who knocked off Sporting KC Friday, for the conference’s top spot. Meanwhile, the Union sit two points out of the fifth and final playoff spot with the three teams above them each having a game in hand.
The Union’s battle for the postseason continues Oct. 2 in a matchup with the Chicago Fire at PPL Park, while D.C. United host third-place Sporting KC one day later.
Watch the highlights below: