Four days after a win in Orlando snapped United’s six-game winless skid, the Philadelphia Union handed its Interstate 95 rival a 7-0 shellacking — tying the biggest blowout in the league’s 26-year history.
“It’s an embarrassing performance,” United interim coach Chad Ashton said, struggling to speak over the postgame fireworks that followed the Union’s in-game outburst. “They out-competed us. They outworked us. They outplayed us. They out-wanted us. I don’t have a lot of explanations.”
Julián Carranza netted a hat trick and Alejandro Bedoya and Uhre each scored twice as the Union (8-2-9) returned to first place in the Eastern Conference. United (5-10-2) sits 13th out of 14 teams in the East at season’s midpoint, with a 1-5-2 record over its past eight heading into Wednesday’s match against the Columbus Crew at Audi Field.
After United came out firing with two goals in the first eight minutes of the 5-3 win against Orlando, it was the Union that took an early lead Friday. Bedoya slipped behind the D.C. back line and connected with José Martínez’s clipped ball, settling the pass with his right foot before curling in a ninth-minute shot with his left.
Philadelphia doubled the lead with a highlight-reel strike in the 22nd. As Jack Elliott scuffed his shot off a corner kick, the ball bounced to an unmarked Carranza, and with his back to goal, the Argentine beat Romo with an acrobatic bicycle-kick finish.
It was nearly 3-0 seconds later, when Union right back Nathan Harriel evaded the D.C. defense, rounded Romo and sliced his shot wide of the empty net. But not even that missed opportunity could stifle the barrage.
Carranza scored his second in the 25th, tapping home from point-blank range after Leon Flach connected with Gazdag’s weighted pass and put his centering feed on a platter. Philadelphia added a fourth in the 37th — Bedoya redirected Kai Wagner’s driven free kick with a flicked header — before Uhre capped the first-half onslaught.
“It’s shocking giving up five goals in the first half,” United captain Steven Birnbaum said. “It hurts me to see the game play out that way and the way things transpired. Every guy, including myself, needs to be looking in the mirror and seeing what we can do better because it’s not acceptable.”
Uhre scored his second in the 59th, slamming an angled volley through Romo’s legs after D.C. wing back Julian Gressel could only partially clear Harriel’s cross.
United got the slightest of respites in the 70th minute, when Romo stoned Carranza’s down-the-middle penalty shot after substitute Chris Odoi-Atsem was called for a handball in the box.
But the save denied Carranza his hat trick for only two minutes. Corralling Wagner’s cross-field pass, Carranza deposited a shot inside the far post to secure the first seven-goal outing in Union history and United’s first seven-goal setback.
“We wanted to win the second half and play for dignity and pride and the name on the back of the jersey,” United midfielder Chris Durkin said. “And we fell short again.”
Here’s what else to know about United’s loss:
United substitute Brad Smith was replaced by Tony Alfaro in the 67th minute after the Australian wing back went down with an apparent knee injury. Slamming his hand to the grass, Smith tried to walk off the field but needed a stretcher.
“It doesn’t look good at this point,” Ashton said. “But I don’t have any final idea.”
With the score out of hand, Ashton brought on Smith and Odoi-Atsem late in the first half and added Nigel Robertha at intermission as United shifted from a proactive 3-4-3 formation to a more traditional 4-4-2.
“They get one against the run and then all of a sudden we throw all discipline out the door again,” Ashton said of the second half. “Our shape is terrible. We’re not connected from front to back. … We have to fight, but we have to work hard and we have to be smart about how we go about it. We can’t just run around like a chicken with its head cut off.”
For the second straight match, United called up Sami Guediri from second-tier affiliate Loudoun United on a four-day loan and started the 24-year-old at left wing back. Guediri could be a prime candidate for an MLS contract after the summer transfer window opened Thursday, though he was pulled for Smith in the 41st minute Friday.