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A View From the Couch Philadelphia Union vs . . DC United

The Starting Lineups 

Philadelphia Union 

Starters:  Andre Blake, Matt Real (Jose Martinez 57'), Jack Elliott, Jakob Glesnes, Nathan Harriel (Olivier Mbaizo 72'), Kai Wagner, Daniel Gazdag, Alejandro Bedoya (Andres Perea 72'), Joaquin Torres (Mikael Uhre 58'), Leon Flach, Julián Carranza

Unused Subs:  Joe Bendik, Jeremy Rafanello, Damion Lowe, Richard Odada, Chris Donovan

Captain:  Alejandro Bedoya

Formation (4-3-2-1)

DC United

Starters: Tyler Miller, Derrick Williams, Donovan Pines, Gaoussou Samaké (Jacob Greene 75'), Russell Canouse, Chris Durkin, Lewis O'Brien, Ted Ku-DiPietro (Cristian Dájome 75'), Mateusz Klich (Yamil Asad 83'), Victor Pálsson, Christian Benteke

Unused Subs: Alex Bono, Brendan Hines-Ike, Matai Akinmboni, Erik Hurtado, Jackson Hopkins, Kristian Fletcher

Captain: Russell Canouse

Formation (3-5-2)

Game Recap: 

First Half: United and the Union could not produce a goal in the 90 minutes the two played on Wednesday night at Subaru Park. It was a vast improvement from United’s last match at 

In truth, Andre Blake made three critical saves to help the Philadelphia Union hold onto a 0-0 draw against the Black and Red, as the visitors were definitely the stronger team.

Jim Curtin set up the Union in a 4-3-2-1 “Christmas tree” formation, which included three personnel changes from their weekend lineup at Colorado. Their strategy for attacking United seemed to be long passes that would allow Julian Carranza and Joaquin Torres to get behind DC's high line with their speed. At one point early in the match that strategy seemed to payoff, but it was determined that Carranza started in an offside position.

After that DC started to find more and more dangerous opportunities. At one point Mateusz Klich forced Andre Blake into a diving save early in the game when he curled a shot from just outside the box toward goal.

Ted Ku-DiPietro made his fourth MLS start of the season, which was surprising as he had been thought to be out a few weeks when he missed the US Cup match due to a knock. He took up one of two number 10's playing under Benteke, and showed little issue from the knock. His ability with the ball at his feet and willingness to dribble past defenders is remarkable.

With Ted KDP playing up top, Chris Durkin's versatility was utilized and he played the winger, and quite effectively. His defense definitely caused issues for the Union, and his ability to make long passes proved dangerous throughout the match.

At the heart of DC United's improved defense is the play of Tyler Miller. United's new goalie again showed a courage that Rooney demands of his keepers. He played high, supporting the high back line, to the point he made a play some 50 yards away from his goal, managing to poke the ball away from Torres and Carranza and to his defenders.

For most of the first half the Black & Red continued to have the better chances. Russell Canouse had a great shot on goal when United's pressure forced a turnover that again made Blake have to dive for the save.

At another point Christian Benteke, took a perfect pass from Lewis O’Brien, and nearly scored in the 28th minute with a powerful shot from the outside of his foot. Andre Blake was beaten by the shot, but the ball flew just wide of the post.

The Union struggled in their attack, as they couldn’t get the ball into dangerous areas. United’s defense did an excellent job keeping Daniel Gazdag off the ball in the attacking half.

Coming back from injury faster than one might have expected, Ted Ku-DiPietro had a great game. He has demonstrated a great ability to dribble through heavy traffic and to put himself into scoring positions. He had probably the best shot of the game from close range after a cross from Benteke was poorly cleared by Kai Wagner into KDP’s path who one-timed it at the goal. Unfortunately for the young forward, the ball went directly at Blake, who was able to make the split second save.

DC continued to press effectively, and maintain a very disciplined defensive shape that didn’t allow the Union to get any rhythm. The halftime whistle blew with both teams knotted at zero.

Second Half: In the second half the Black & Red weathered an initial push by the Union and again started to gain control of the match.

After a slow start to the season, DC United have only lost once in its last six MLS matches and earned its sixth-ever point at Philadelphia. This was their first point at Subaru Park since a 1-0 win in May of 2014.

At the 58th minute mark, Curtin tried to turn the game around when he inserted midfielder Jose Martinez and striker Michael Uhre into the lineup. It did give the Union a boost, and there were some more dangerous 

Benteke came inches from his sixth goal of the year in the 69th minute when his header struck the crossbar. As the minutes continued to tick by, there were few clear-cut chances for either team. The Union had one last dangerous look in second-half stoppage time but Andres Perea sent his shot wide of the goal.

Tyler Miller and the Black & Red defense were able to record their fourth shutout in eight matches, and third on the road to gain a hard earned point in a place that United has found very difficult to play.

It’s another quick turnaround for the Black & Red, as they host LA Galaxy on Saturday night. Kickoff at Audi Field is at 7:30 p.m.

Notes From the Couch:

  • DC is on the front foot to start the match

  • DC is moving the ball quickly and really are getting comfortable with each other 

  • This ref is really allowing some physical play out on the pitch

  • Ugh! Early goal to the Union 

  • Yahoo! Goal disallowed, Carranza was a couple yards offside, so offside I’m not sure why play was allowed to continue 

  • Chris Durkin is the Swiss Army Knife for United, he seems comfortable playing anywhere on the pitch - today as the wingback

  • Ted KDP is showing amazing skill on the ball

  • Will be interesting to see if Rooney at some point plays Ted KDP alongside Taxi, behind Benteke, those three could give an effective attack

  • Benteke is so strong at holding the ball 

  • Benteke really changes the focus of DC United’s attack

  • Rats, if Benteke could have snuck that pass by Jack Elliot, Ted-KDP would have been all alone in front of goal 

  • Really feel that DC needs to do fewer crosses, Philadelphia’s back line is just too good 

  • Miller defending at the center circle to disrupt a Union counterattack is both awesome and harrowing 

  • Second half starts much the way the first half did

  • That Jack Elliot almost scored from the Union’s end because Miller was so far from his goal is again harrowing 

  • Benteke and Ted-KDP really play well together 

  • Durkin makes a great steal near end line and crosses the ball; too bad no United player there to put that pass away, it would have been AMAZING!

  • Miller made an incredible flying save to thwart Julián Carranza’s 25-yard shot 

  • Russell Canouse must dread playing the Union, as he always seems to get hurt against them; this time a high-speed collision with Uhre, left him with a bloody face

  • Wow, thought Philadelphia was going to steal one at the end there

  • DC continues to move in the right direction

Words from the Gaffer: 

Wayne Rooney: “The lads feel a bit gutted we didn’t get three points, and I think that shows how far we’ve come.

We want to try and make that [last year’s humiliating loss] right. And we were so close to doing that in terms of getting the victory.

Player Ratings (FotMob):

Tyler Miller             9.0

Gaoussou Samaké   7.3

Derrick Williams    7.1

Donovan Pines        7.1

Victor Pálsson         7.4

Chris Durkin           6.5

Russell Canouse     7.8

Lewis O’Brien.       7.9

Mateusz Klich        7.1

Ted Ku-Dipietro     7.7

Christian Benteke   6.8


Jacob Greene          6.2

Yamil Asad             6.5

Christian Dajome    6.5


Man of the Match - Christian Benteke - Was tempted to give this to Ted Ku-Dipietro for the energy and excitement he brought to the pitch, or Tyler Miller for ensuring another clean sheet and being the only goalkeeper in the league who regularly challenges opponents near the midfield line. However I felt Christian Benteke earned this with the difference he brings to the Black and Red’s attack. He is the type of player who makes other teams change their game plans, and he forced the Union to play on a back foot for long stretches of the game.

Next Match: DC United are back at Audi Field hosting the LA Galaxy on Saturday May 20th, at 7:30 pm ET.

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