WASHINGTON, D.C. – Pasted on a wall inside the visiting team’s locker room at RFK Stadium was a newspaper article from the Washington Post.
Circled in that article was a quote from D.C. United goalkeeper Bill Hamid that read: “We’re going to win. We’ve made it our lives. Three points is what we need and three points is what we are going to get.”
Before Sunday’s game against D.C. United began, Philadelphia Union manager John Hackworth made sure to read that quote aloud to his players.
And the Union then went out and made sure Hamid would look silly for making those comments, scoring three first-half goals en route to an exciting 3-2 victory over host D.C. United.
“That was a big motivating factor,” Union center back Amobi Okugo said. “A lot of us know Bill from prior youth national teams, so we know how fiery he can get. That’s typical Bill. Guaranteeing stuff that didn’t happen.”
No one made it tougher on Hamid than Jack McInerney, who scored twice to take the lead in the MLS Golden Boot race with six goals. Conor Casey, McInerney’s partner up top, added a goal and an assist as the Union (3-2-2) snapped a three-game winless streak and claimed the franchise’s first-ever win at RFK Stadium.
Perry Kitchen and former Philly striker Lionard Pajoy scored for reeling D.C. United (1-5-1), who dropped their fourth straight contest.
“The execution was fantastic,” Union manager John Hackworth said. “From Jack finishing two and Conor scoring, it was a day we took care of business in front of goal. And that was really good to see.”
The Union wasted little time finding the back of the net at creaky RFK.
McInerney opened the scoring in the seventh minute after captain Brian Carroll made a great sliding play to start a counter-attack and Casey played a perfect through ball. McInerney then slowed the ball up, managed to split two D.C. defenders and fired a left-footed blast past goalie Bill Hamid from just inside the box.
“Probably the most impressive thing is he slowed the ball up and cut the ball back,” Hackworth said. “On the bench, we were saying, ‘Why is he slowing it up?’ It looked like he had a step on them. But Jack is capable of those kind of goals. I know everyone says he’s a tap-in player but he has a big arsenal in his bag. He can certainly hurt you from distance and hurt you in different ways and he showed that today.”
Four minutes after assisting on the team’s first goal, Casey scored the second one of the game – which was also from a left-footed striker that beat Hamid to his left. The scoring play began after Danny Cruz chased down a ball from Sheanon Williams, made a nifty cutback pass and slid the ball to Casey at the top of the box.
In the 17th minute, D.C. United got on the board when Kitchen received a Dwayne De Rosario pass amidst heavy traffic in the box and fired one past Zac MacMath to make it 2-1 in favor of Phily.
But McInerney scored again in the 26th minute after one of Williams’ patented long throw-ins found him at the far post. And Williams made a big block on a Chris Pontius shot in the 33rd minute to help the Union preserve its two-goal lead going into halftime.
“This year on set pieces we’re dangerous,” Williams said. “We’ve got big bodies in there. We’ve got Jeff [Parke], Amobi [Okugo] and we’ve got Chicharito over there poaching on the back post.”
The “Chicharito” comment came in reference to McInerney, who was recently dubbed the “American Chicharito” on a MLSsoccer.com podcast in honor of Mexican star Javier “Chicharito” Hernandez.
McInerney has tried to brush off those lofty comparisons, but the 20-year-old striker has made it no secret that he wants to win the MLS Golden Boot, given to the league’s top goal scorer.
“It’s definitely in the back of my mind,” McInerney said. “I know I’m not going continue this pace the whole year, so I told everyone not to get too excited. But it feels good. And the goals will keep coming if we’re still winning.”
It looked like McInerney’s brace might not be enough when, just three minutes into the second half, Pajoy headed in a cross from Daniel Woolard to pull D.C. back within one at 3-2. The goal was Pajoy’s fifth with D.C. since getting traded by the Union last August – and his second against Philadelphia.
But led by left back Ray Gaddis, who made a big save off the goal line in the 72nd minute, the Union preserved the lead and escaped the nation’s capital with a full three points.
And the Philly players were left to laugh and smile in the locker room, right next to that newspaper article with Hamid’s false guarantee.
“It’s a good win,” Williams said. “We’re on the road. It’s a rival. They’ve been having a tough time - and we wanted to keep them where they’re at.”