Luis Silva’s 10th-minute goal held up as D.C. United fought off a valiant effort from the Philadelphia Union in their 1-0 victory this afternoon at sun-splashed RFK Stadium in Washington, D.C. in front of 19, 478 fans.
United (15-9-6, 51 points), playing at home for only the second time all month, extended their lead atop the Eastern Conference standing to six points over the New England Revolution and Sporting Kansas City, both sitting at 45 points after the Revolution went to Kansas City and got a big win last night.
With only four games remaining and Sporting coming to town on Friday night, United is in excellent position to put further distance between themselves and SKC and also move closer to clinching the Eastern Conference title and the automatic CONCACAF Champions League berth that goes with it in the 2015-2016 tournament.
Silva, the teams goalscoring leader with eleven on the season, put the Black-and-Red ahead in the 10th minute thanks to some determined work from Nick DeLeon. DeLeon drove at the Philadelphia defense and worked a cross to the opposite post where Chris Korb pulled the ball down. Korb’s pass to Sean Franklin got caught up in a thicket of players and fortunately rebounded back to him when his one-time left-footed cross met the forehead of Silva who nodded the ball just inside the far post.
United should have doubled the lead a bit later in the first half when Bill Hamid, who posted his ninth shutout of the season (11th overall for United), launched a ball over the Union defense and caught Fabian Espindola in stride. The tricky Argentine striker got to the ball just as Algerian goalkeeper Rais Mbohli was closing the space down and dribbled a shot towards the gaping empty net. However, Union defender Carlos Valdes was on the spot to clear the ball off the line. The play remained alive as Espindola picked up the loose ball and spotted Silva at the penalty spot. Silva’s one-time left-footer was grazed by Mbohli and then cleared again by Valdes off the line to keep the score at 1-0.
With the Union pushing the tempo in the second half, United failed to capitalize on numerous counter attack opportunities, particularly when second-half substitutes Chris Pontius and Eddie Johnson came into the match. Their failure to create any decent chances to put the match away kept the Union in the game as the visitor tried to carve out the game-tying goal. Their best chance came in the 86th minute when Perry Kitchen tripped and fell on the ball just outside the penalty area. Kitchen landed on the ball and was harshly given a yellow card which will keep him out of Friday’s match up with Sporting Kansas City due to an accumulation of yellow’s throughout the season.
Christian Maidana stepped up and sent his shot straight into the wall and United saw the remainder of the match out. The win for United is their 15th win on the season which means they have five times as many matches as they did a year ago (3 wins), a feat that no doubt will be repeated again in MLS any time soon.