Rivalry Week

MLS history: Philadelphia Union's rout of DC United a "message to the league"

Friday night was chock-full of milestones for the Philadelphia Union, courtesy of an emphatic 7-0 Heineken Rivalry Week victory over D.C. United at Subaru Park.


As you can probably imagine, the numbers by the final whistle were historic for head coach Jim Curtin's side. The 7-0 scoreline equaled the league record for the largest margin of victory in a match, tying a mark set on four other occasions. Philly's five-goal onslaught in the first half also tied the league record for goals in the first 45 minutes.

Afterward, an understandably jubilant Curtin said the performance showed what his team is capable of, during a season in which goals have been occasionally hard to come by. Philly, firmly in the Supporters' Shield race, have played to nine draws (including five at home) and been shut out three times through Week 19 alongside a league-low 13 goals conceded.

"We weren't perfect by any stretch, but I'd say the first half is about as close as you can get," Curtin said. "If you were to say Philadelphia Union soccer: Keep a clean sheet, don't give up a shot on goal and also put the other team under pressure and score relentlessly – that's us at our best.

"So, full credit to the players. They've worked very hard. It's a group that's had a lot of ties and a lot of frustration, but it's a group that also doesn't get beat. We have a bunch of winners in this group, and tonight was a good reward for them, a good reward for the fans and I think also a message to the league that we are a good defensive team, but we can also score goals."

The theatrics were spearheaded by a hat trick from forward Julian Carranza, who brought his season total to seven while on loan from Inter Miami CF. The Argentine's 22nd-minute overhead kick to put Philadelphia up 2-0 was the prettiest of the bunch, with Curtin saying the performance reinforced what he's always believed regarding Carranza's true potential: that he could mirror the production of a certain New York City FC striker who won 2021's Golden Boot presented by Audi.

"Obviously certain goals he scored tonight I can't teach or take credit for – obviously the overhead kick is unbelievable, just an instinct of a pure goal-scorer," Curtin said. "I gave him a high-five at the end of the game. I said we both mentioned the word \[Valentin\] 'Castellanos' again in the mid-week press conference, and that's what he has in him. He has that ability to be a pest defensively but also finish plays off. He's that good of a striker. He's got that instinct in and around the goal to make plays.

"I thought he was excellent tonight. Also passing, he did some excellent passing and we could have scored more goals, to be honest."

The match also provided a glimpse at the possibilities for the attacking trio of Carranza, Mikael Uhre and Daniel Gazdag, who have yet to see a consistent run on the field together this season. Uhre and midfielder Alejandro Bedoya both bagged braces themselves.

Curtin hopes Friday's dominant showing was a sign of things to come as the Union look to maintain their perch atop the Eastern Conference table, jockeying with New York Red Bulls and New York City FC for the premier spot.

"That's the thing that gives us real hope for the future, because nights like tonight can become more the norm rather than an outlier," Curtin said. "I think we can score multiple goals in games. Seven's a little bit asking too much, but I think we can be a team that scores 2-3 goals a game, with those three attacking players on the field, with more cohesion in practice, maybe moving together a little better.

"And then when you do wear down a defense, you bring in a \[Chris\] Donovan and \[Cory\] Burke and a \[Paxten\] Aaronson off the bench to change pace. So I think that is something that could be a real weapon."