The Union are riding home highs. They have won seven of their last eight home matches. Last week getting three goals against Dallas shows that these players are clicking. There have been no new players added in the summer transfer window, so these current players will need to thrive if the playoffs are to be a possibility. Now they need to do what they haven’t been able to do all season, beat Montreal. Can they bury the ghost’s of their past and get a win vs the Impact?
Philadelphia has had trouble with Montreal over the last few seasons. They have been a rival with Philadelphia, always giving a competitive hard-fought match. This season has been no different. Back in April Montreal came to Philly. The union had themselves an inspired 40 minutes, scoring three goals. As the game progressed Montreal fought. They got one back at the half, then found two in the second resulting in a draw. Last month, the Union travel north of the border. Missing a chance early killed Philly. Bad defense led to a Union loss. Now the Union look to split the series points with Montreal. Can they do it?
Controlling the game = 3 points:
— Philadelphia Union (@PhilaUnion) August 10, 2017
The Union have shown that if they control the flow of play against Montreal that they win the game. Back in April the Union dominated possession for 40 minutes. They were able to do what they wanted and found three goals. When they let their foot of the gas in the first meeting Montreal was allowed to dictate the play.
When Montreal is allowed to do what they want to do they are as good as anyone. Ignacio Piatti and Blerim Džemaili are play makers who have burnt the Union. In the last meeting the Union had no possession. and they were torched on both goals. To stop this, Philly will need good possession play from everyone on the pitch.
The back four will need to be smart. The wide backs will need to know when to move forward and when to stay put; The center backs need to distribute the ball well. Montreal has one of the best presses in the league and can benefit from fast oppertunities from defensive mishaps. Medunjanin will have to produce great passes, while Bedoya will need to use his fantastic work rate to link play with the attackers. The wingers will need to showcase their speed to get create wide options to keep possession. The real key to success for the Union is found in the play of Sapong and Ilsinho.
Allow CJ and Ilsinho to create the offense = 3 points:
.@fafagoal23: "Finding CJ, finding the guys in the middle, allowing guys to create."
— Philadelphia Union (@PhilaUnion) August 11, 2017
The Union have been at their best when CJ Sapong uses his unique talents to hold up the play for Union attacks, and When Ilsinho has brilliant games at the number 10 position. The only way that the Union continue to make a playoff push is if these players continue to have success.
Everyone on the Union knows their role in this match. They need to keep possession and get the ball to the feet of Sapong and Ilsinho. Sapong uses his hold up play to really kick-start Union oppertunities. This isn’t just on long balls sent to him. In transition the Union will look to him to set plays up. There have been many times when he gets a quick touch and then plays the ball back to Medunjanin or Bedoya kick starting an attack. This creates mismatches and space for the Union’s attacking midfielders to get behind the defense. One of those attacking midfielders who benefits from this type of play is Ilsinho.
Ilsinho has looked great in his revised role as the Union’s number 10. The fancy-footed Brazilian has found a knack for linking up Union plays as of late. When the offense flows through Sapong and allows space for Ilsinho to operate, he finds the correct play to make. Whether it’s running onto the ball and playing out wide or back, having a go at goal or flicking it back to Sapong, Ilsinho has shown that he has the skill set to create chances for the Union. In recent times he’s found the hard run that Sapong makes towards the goal to create easy tap ins. Both of these guys create offense, they will need to continue to do so in this match agaisnt Montreal.
Goal ? Of ? The ? Week
— Philadelphia Union (@PhilaUnion) August 7, 2017
Can Union continue riding home highs?
— Philadelphia Union (@PhilaUnion) August 7, 2017
The Union know what they have to do to get a win vs Montreal. Keep possession and let your offense flow through Sapong and Ilsinho. The issue is keeping this up for ninety minutes against a very good Montreal side. There will be mistakes made by the Union, however if they are ready for Montreal’s breaks they should be able to go unscathed in front of their home crowd. I’d expect the Union to lineup like this:
McCarthy, Wijnaldum, Elliot, Onyewu, Gaddis; Medunjanin, Bedoya; Fafa, Ilsinho, Pontius; Sapong.
Subs: McGuire, Rosenberry, Yaro, Jones, Epps, Alberg, Simpson.
This game means so much for the Union. A win coupled with a Orlando loss to Red Bulls and a Columbus loss to Chicago would mean that the Union would be above the red line. This is a huge match!
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Follow me on twitter @TGing21 for Soccer Twitter fun! Coming soon: A look back at what the Gold Cup win means for USA’s future, and a look at how the Union did agaisnt Montreal. Until then, Peace out!
Mandatory Credit: Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports
Philadelphia Union Editor of Soccer Content
A passion for the beautiful game drives me.