Kacper Przybylko scored late in the first half and Paxten Aaronson tallied early in the second before the shorthanded Philadelphia Union held on for a 2-1 road victory over reeling FC Cincinnati on Saturday night.
Philadelphia (12-7-9, 45 points) played without six players due to international duties and three others due to injuries or suspension. However, Przybylko's 10th goal in the third minute of first-half stoppage time and Aaronson's second of 2021 in the 56th minute, plus five saves from keeper Matthew Freese, helped the Union improve to 4-0-1 over their last five matches.
Owner of the fewest points in MLS, Cincinnati (4-16-8, 20 points) made things interesting when ex-Union midfielder Haris Medunjanin scored in the 82nd minute. It was FCC's first goal in five all-time matches against Philadelphia, but that was all the hosts could muster -- despite holding 63 percent of the possession, recording 15 total shots and six on target -- in losing its sixth straight and ninth in the last 10 contests.
Cincinnati did its best to take advantage of the shorthanded Union squad. Brenner's 11th-minute blast was caught by a diving Freese. Then Yuya Kubo's strike in the 15th and Alvaro Barreal's key chance at 28 minutes each nearly opened the scoring for the hosts. Isaac Atanga's point-blank shot in the 36th was stopped by Freese, who started while Andre Blake was off with the Jamaican national team.
However, Przybylko gave his team the lead when he took the ball off his chest, then settled it down before converting from short range.
FCC continued to press into the second half with another major Brenner attempt saved straight-on by Freese in the 50th minute. Six minutes later, though, Aaronson headed a ball in off the foot of Cincinnati keeper Przemyslaw Tyton.
Medunjanin, who spent three seasons (2017-19) with Philadelphia, gave his team life when he curled a floater into the Union goal late in the contest.
Philadelphia's Sergio Santos, plus Kubo and his FCC teammate Gustavo Vallecilla all left with injuries in the first half. These teams met days after former Philadelphia technical director Chris Albright was hired as FC Cincinnati's new general manager.