The Boys in Blue entered Montreal reeling from a streak of 16 consecutive winless road matches and their fans about to mutiny. Coach Jim Curtin made several changes to the starting lineup: Cory Burke at forward for CJ Sapong, Fafa Picault at left-wing for David Accam, Marcus Epps at right-wing for Ilsinho, Ray Gaddis at left back for Fabinho, and Mark McKenzie at center back for Jack Elliot. The Impact were a welcome sight, simply because they can’t stop anyone from scoring, with a -10 goal differential (worst in MLS). Hence, the best chance the Union would have at a road win so far this season. From the opening whistle, it was clear that the Impact were fine with constantly turning the ball over, as long as they also had their opportunities. Cory Burke notched his first MLS goal and Haris Medunjanin added another to seal the deal late in the 2nd half. So, Where do we go from here?
What I Liked
We scored! Yes, that shouldn’t be cause for celebration but it is.
Mark McKenzie wasn’t great but was solid, taking on goal-scoring machine, Ignacio Piatti and dispossessing him on more than a few occasions.
Haris Medunjanin has had a dismal 2018 campaign. Against the Impact, he looked more poised and seemed to be seeing the entire field better, connecting with teammates.
Cory Burke was aggressive and took advantage of his opportunity.
Andre Blake made a few solid saves. More about Blake though in “What I Didn’t Like”
Although Fafa Picault unleashed only 3 shots, he took better care of the ball in Montreal’s side of the field.
What I Didn’t Like
Cory Burke’s red card. I’ve seen worse but it was tough to argue against this one.
Ray Gaddis turning the ball over to Montreal’s Raheem Edwards close to the Union goal. He was lucky to get away with that one. Can’t get on him too much since he did assist on Burke’s header.
Another assist on Burke’s goal went to Borek Dockal. I was following him closely and he still doesn’t look comfortable at all playing that high up at the #10. He just didn’t get involved enough and had the lowest Audi Index Player Score of any Union player with a lowly 19.
In the closing minutes and with a lead, rather than finding his back line to hold possession, Blake booted a goal kick over both squads directly to Impact goalkeeper, Evan Bush. This kind of turnover can’t happen, especially from a veteran keeper the quality of Blake.
Coach Curtin is off the hook as far as the #9 goes for Saturday vs. Real Salt Lake. With Burke’s red card, Sapong will start if healthy. If not, it will be interesting if they will dust off Jay Simpson or go with David Accam. I’m torn on McKenzie and Elliot. He was very good last year, but Elliot hadn’t been in great form the past few weeks. I’m leaning towards McKenzie.
Two things are in the Union’s favor for Saturday. They are at home, and RSL, just like them, are awful away from home. They’ve been outscored on the road 13-3 and are just behind Montreal for worst overall goal differential in MLS. I hope they can pull out another victory, but I won’t be sold until they can score against a club with a solid defense.
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Peace out Union fans!
Mandatory Credit Jean-Yves Ahern-USA TODAY Sports