WASHINGTON – Fabian Espindola struck on a 79th-minute header to help D.C. United complete a rousing comeback from two goals down in a 3-2 victory over the Philadelphia Union on Sunday afternoon at RFK Stadium.
Alvaro Saborio scored in his D.C. debut to spark the rally, and Nick DeLeon tied the match at 2-2 with his first goal of the season, giving the Eastern Conference leaders three goals in a match for the first time since June 3.
Chris Korb provided the service on both Saborio’s opener and Espindola’s match winner to help United (11-7-5, 38 pts) snap a three-match winless run and put them level with FC Dallas in the Supporters’ Shield race.
Espindola also made amends for a missed first-half penalty kick with his late strike.
C.J. Sapong and Sebastien Le Toux struck inside the opening four minutes for the Union, who have now lost two straight following a three-match unbeaten run to fall into ninth place with 22 points from 22 matches.
Sapong, who leads Philadelphia (6-12-4) with seven goals, also struck the crossbar with a golden chance a minute before Espindola put United ahead.
Down 2-0, Saborio, fresh off his trade from Real Salt Lake, put D.C. on the board in the 37th minute, using his right boot to side-foot Korb’s left-footed cross out of the air and just inside the left post.
With D.C. coming out of the break on their front foot, DeLeon drew them level in the 66th minute on an opportunistic rebound effort on an Espindola missile that Union goalkeeper Brian Sylvestre turned away with a diving save.
DeLeon was the first to the rebound, slotting home an easy left-footed finish from the edge of the 6-yard box.
Espindola gave United the lead 13 minutes later on what was, for the creative Argentine, an unusually direct goal. Korb created the chance with his second superb cross of the afternoon, this one a right-footed out-swinger from the right flank.
Espindola outjumped defender Raymon Gaddis to reach it and nodded in a clinical header for just his second goal of the league campaign.
Prior to that, the Union were the ones who appeared to be in line for three points after taking the lead just 21 seconds into the match on Sapong’s goal, the fastest in club history and seventh fastest in MLS all-time.
A D.C. giveaway after the opening kick led to Sapong getting possession in midfield. After backheeling the ball to Cristian Maidana, Sapong then made a run into the penalty area, took Maidana’s return pass with his back to United defender Steve Birnbaum, spun him and drove a low finish past ‘keeper Andrew Dykstra.
Philadelphia doubled the lead three minutes later when Le Toux’s pass aimed for Sapong’s run skipped past the forward, fooling Dykstra and nestling inside the right post.
United are back in action Saturday at home against Real Salt Lake, while the Union return home to play host to the New York Red Bulls on the same day.