Sunday, June 17, 2012

Union fall in Hackworth's debut

Chester, Pa. (June 16, 2012) -- Philadelphia Union returned to MLS action with a 1-0 loss to first-place D.C. United in front of a sold out crowd at PPL Park in John Hackworth's first match as interim team manager Saturday night. Philadelphia dominated possession throughout the game, but a 78th minute goal by D.C.'s Chris Pontius proved to be the difference.
The chances came early and often for the Union, but Philadelphia failed to find the back of the net for the second straight MLS game. The Union remain tied for last in Major League Soccer with only eight goals scored in the 2012 campaign.
Midfielder Michael Farfan got the attack going in the second minute, dribbling past his defender into the box but firing wide of the near post.
Philadelphia's best opportunity in the early going came in the 12th minute, when Jack McInerney recovered his own blocked shot and lofted the ball across the box to fellow striker Freddy Adu. Adu's shot slid through the hands of D.C. goalkeeper Bill Hamid, but the netminder got enough of the ball to push it over the bar.
The prolific D.C. United attack was kept at bay, as the league's leading offense was held to only two attempts on goal in the first half. A header by captain Dwayne De Rosario's from Andy Najar's corner kick was the only chance to pose a threat on Zac MacMath's goal, but the ball flew wide of the net and glanced off the outside netting.
Philadelphia's offense, led tonight by forward McInerney, pushed for a goal before the half but couldn't find their way onto the scoreboard.
The intensity escalated after the teams exited the locker rooms when United defender Dejan Jakovic was whistled for a hard takedown on McInerney. A scuffle ensued, but the referee ultimately deemed only Jakovic's initial foul worthy of a booking.
United recorded their first shot on goal in the 69th minute, a slow roller that MacMath had no trouble scooping up off the grass.
D.C. finally broke the deadlock in the 78th minute after a controversial foul and yellow card on Carlos Valdes resulted in a United free kick. Substitute Branko Boskovic sent in a perfect ball to the far post, which Pontius deposited for the game's lone goal.
Newly acquired forward Jorge Perlaza entered the game in the 82nd minute to a warm welcome, but the waning minutes offered few chances for the Union. A late flying side-volley by Amobi Okugo drew admiration from the crowd, but the shot went well wide of the goal.
With the loss, the Union drop to 2-8-2 with eight points. The Union return to action next Saturday, 7 p.m., at PPL Park against Kansas City. The match will be broadcast on The Comcast Network.
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