August 12, 2022

CHESTER, Pa. — As Mikael Uhre entered the action in first-half stoppage time on Friday at Subaru Park, netting home the Philadelphia Union’s MLS-record fifth goal. First 45 minutes, DC United’s mistakes that preceded it felt less astounding than inevitable.

Tired legs left United’s defense exposed. Dull marking gave Uhre space to connect with Daniel Gazdag’s through ball. As DC defender Donovan Pines tangled his feet and fell to the turf, Uhre had time to pull himself together, pick a corner and fire past goalkeeper Rafael Romo.

Four days after a win in Orlando ended United’s six-game winless skid, the Philadelphia Union handed their Interstate 95 rival a 7-0 shellacking – tying the biggest blowout of 26 years of league history.

“It’s an embarrassing performance,” said United caretaker manager Chad Ashton, who struggled to talk about the post-match fireworks following Union’s outburst in the match. “They outdid us. They have surpassed us. They have surpassed us. They wanted us more. I don’t have many explanations.

Julián Carranza had a hat trick and Alejandro Bedoya and Uhre each scored twice as the Union (8-2-9) climbed back to first place in the Eastern Conference. United (5-10-2) sit 13th out of 14 teams in the East halfway through the season, with a 1-5-2 record in their last eight heading into Wednesday’s game against the Columbus Crew at AudiField.

After United came out with two goals in the opening eight minutes of the 5-3 win over Orlando, it was Union who took the lead on Friday. Bedoya slipped behind the DC backline and touched José Martínez’s cut ball, setting the pass with his right foot before curling a ninth-minute shot with his left.

Philadelphia doubled the lead with a killer strike in the 22nd. As Jack Elliott scuffed his shot from a corner, the ball bounced off an unmarked Carranza, and with his back to goal, the Argentine beat Romo with an acrobatic finish on a bicycle.

It was almost 3-0 seconds later when Union right-back Nathan Harriel beat the DC backline, rounded Romo and sliced ​​his shot away from the empty net. But even this missed opportunity could not stifle the barrage.

Carranza scored his second in the 25th, tapping in from close range after Leon Flach connected with Gazdag’s weighted pass and placed his centering feed on a plateau. Philadelphia added a fourth in the 37th — Bedoya redirected Kai Wagner’s push free kick with a graze header — before Uhre capped the first-half onslaught.

“It’s shocking to allow five goals in the first half,” said United captain Steven Birnbaum. “It pains me to see the game unfold this way and the way things have unfolded. Every guy including myself has to look in the mirror and see what we can do better because this is not acceptable.

Uhre scored his second in the 59th, slamming an angled volley into Romo’s legs after DC winger Julian Gressel was only able to partially clear Harriel’s cross.

United got the slightest respite in the 70th minute, when Romo stoned Carranza’s shot on goal after substitute Chris Odoi-Atsem was called in for a handball into the box.

But the stoppage robbed Carranza of his hat-trick for just two minutes. Corralling Wagner’s cross pass, Carranza laid a shot inside the far post to secure the first seven-goal outing in Union history and United’s first seven-goal reverse.

“We wanted to win the second half and play for dignity and pride and the name on the back of the shirt,” said United midfielder Chris Durkin. “And we failed again.”

Here’s what else to know about United’s loss:

United substitute Brad Smith was substituted for Tony Alfaro in the 67th minute after the Australian winger suffered a knee injury. Slamming his hand on the grass, Smith tried to walk off the pitch but needed a stretcher.

“It doesn’t look good at this point,” Ashton said. “But I don’t have a definitive idea.”

With the score out of control, Ashton brought on Smith and Odoi-Atsem late in the first half and added Nigel Robertha at intermission as United went from a proactive 3-4-3 formation to a 4-4-2 more traditional.

“They get one against the run and then all of a sudden we throw away all discipline again,” Ashton said of the second half. “Our form is terrible. We are not connected back and forth. … We have to fight, but we have to work hard and we have to be smart about how we go about it. We cannot just run around like a chicken with its head cut off.

For the second game in a row, United called up second-tier affiliate Loudoun United’s Sami Guediri on a four-day loan and launched the 24-year-old at left-back. Guediri could be a prime candidate for an MLS contract after the summer transfer window opens on Thursday, although he was taken off for Smith in the 41st minute on Friday.