Marco Fabian did not play due to a sprained ankle and goal keeper Andre Blake left the match in the 50th minute with a leg injury, yet Philadelphia earned an impressive 3-0 shutout victory at home Saturday against Montreal Impact.
The Philadelphia Union earned a much-needed rebound victory Saturday afternoon along the Delaware River thanks to goals by Cory Burke, Jamiro Monteiro, and Alejandro Bedoya and a stellar defensive effort from the group earned them a third clean sheet performance so far this season.
In addition to Fabian being sidelined, Union Head Coach had to manage with center backs Auston Trusty (suspension) and Mark McKenzie (emergency appendicitis). Curtin revealed post-match that he and his staff received a phone call Friday night from McKenzie regarding his appendicitis and subsequent surgery. Best wishes to McKenzie indeed.
But it turns out, veteran defender Aurelien Collin earned his first start and performed very well as an emergency replacement along the back-line. Several times Collin sprang forward to break up plays and was also effective distributing the long ball throughout the match.
“I have to give full credit to the players. We talked a lot through pre-season with the players and Ernst [Tanner] about proving the depth of the squad and having a next-man-up mentality where guys are willing to step in whenever possible,” said Curtin after his team’s victory. “I could not be prouder of the job that Aurelien Collin did today stepping in on short notice.”
Philadelphia broke open the scoring early in the match. A turnover from Montreal in their own half was a result of the Union’s high press system. They swarmed to the ball and forced an errant pass which allowed Burke to jump on it sparking a counter attack. Burke took a few dribbles toward the box before unleashing a perfectly struck right-footed shot from outside the box. The placement of his strike rolled past the outstretched Evan Bush and slid into the side netting for the match’s first goal in the 14th minute of play
“The defender decided to back off and I decided to just take the shot,” said Burke of his goal. “Once I get the space and time, I got no problem taking the shot.”
The early goal has been the number one priority for Philadelphia, especially at home. When they tally the match’s first goal, they normally find success.
A second Union goal occurred in the 45th minute thanks to a well-struck penalty kick from newcomer Jamiro Monteiro. Monteiro struck home the PK chance after Jack Elliot was dragged down in the box by Zakaria Diallo on a corner kick opportunity. Monteiro found the back of the net for the first time as a Union player.
That second goal truly solidified Philadelphia’s dominance over Montreal. The second half saw Montreal attempt to stretch their lines in hopes of chasing the game but ultimately they failed to threaten.
The third Philadelphia goal was a thing of beauty. Haris Medunjanin chipped a ball forward to left back Kai Wagner along the left side of the goal box. Wagner took an aggressive first touch which brought Busch off his line. Wagner then tapped it across the face of goal where Burke nudged it along for Bedoya who was all alone for the finish. The ball and player movement to create the third and final goal was remarkable.
Moments before Philadelphia nailed the final nail in Montreal’s coffin, a devastating sequence occurred. Blake rocketed a goal kick in the 50th minute and immediately began wincing in pain as he grabbed what looked to be his right groin muscle. He limped around until ultimately deciding he could no longer continue. Rookie keeper Matt Freese was called upon as he made his first MLS appearance under heavy stress. Freese did well though throughout the remainder of the game and continued Blake’s clean sheet effort.
Montreal never threatened in the last 30 minutes of the match. Philadelphia simply passed the ball effectively to manage the match’s final moments. Curtin should be pleased with his team’s performance as this was their fourth multi-goal game in their last five matches. Philadelphia are now 3rd in the Eastern Conference table with 13 points. They have only lost once in their last six matches earning victories in four out of their last five. The Union are clicking once again after the 2-0 loss to LA Galaxy and they’ll hope their improved form continues through the end of April into early May.
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Mandatory Credit: Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports