Union Send Montreal Oui, Oui, All the Way Home

Alejandro Bedoya Celebrates his goal in the Union’s 3-0 rout of Montreal Impact. Mandatory Credit AP Photo/Derik Hamilton.

The Philadelphia Union made mince meat out of the Montreal Impact Saturday afternoon, defeating them at Talen Energy Stadium, 3-0. There really isn’t much to say about the Impact except their name was a contradiction in terms. Without their scoring star, Ignacio Piatti, they are completely listless on offense. The only semblance of any motion yesterday came from midfielder Maxi Urruti who put in a an incredible work rate. Otherwise, they were not creative and extremely passive.

Not to take anything away from the play of the Union, because their stingy defense clearly played a role in rendering Montreal desperate for answers. So much so that Impact coach, Rémi Garde, substituted two offensive players at halftime. This didn’t accomplish anything as the Impact failed to generate anything in the final third even after those changes.

This is really all about the Union and a complete team performance – something they are showing more and more of as the season progresses. Mark McKenzie fell victim to appendicitis. He was to be starting in place of Auston Trusty, who was serving a one-game suspension. This forced veteran defender, Aurélien Collin into the center back position. With the injured Marco Fabián out of the lineup, coach Jim Curtin, chose to go with Ilsinho as his replacement. The move surprised most fans, as Curtin has been going with more of a forward, front-attacking lineup. This left David Accam and Fafa Picault on the bench for a second consecutive match, the first of which did not go well (a 2-0 loss to the LA Galaxy last week). Cory Burke was left up top as the lone striker.

Brenden Aaronson playing like a seasoned vet in his rookie season. Mandatory Credit: Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports

Ten minutes in and most offensive possessions from the Union were boots from midfield towards the direction of the Montreal goal. I was surprised that was the strategy, especially with an additional midfielder (Ilsinho) in the starting lineup. Then a microcosm of the match to come – the Impact made a completely un-pressured turnover at midfield. The ball landed at the feet of Burke, who casually took a few strides in the direction of goalkeeper Evan Bush, met no defensive resistance whatsoever, and fired a well-paced shot into the back of the net. Only 14 minutes in and Montreal looked like they had packed it in.

The Union caught a break, in my opinion, in the 43rd minute. Following a corner kick from Haris Medunjanin, Jack Elliot appeared to be pulled/pushed down by Montreal defenders. On replay, it looked like Burke did a good job of embellishing a pull down of his own. Jamiro Monteiro, who yours truly, predicted would get his first Union goal, did so when he converted the penalty. The nail in the coffin came in the 57th minute, when Kai Wagner crossed a ball into the box, intended for Burke, who overran it, but was cleaned up by Alejandro Bedoya to make it 3-0.

A few game notes:

– Bedoya was “Kaku’d” by Medunjanin in the first half but was able to remain in the match.

– Andre Blake pulled up lame which appeared to be a groin strain while clearing a ball early in the 2nd half. He left the match and was replaced by Matt Freese, who did a decent job in his MLS debut, preserving the shut-out. Back in the 19th minute, Blake made a great catch on a cross into the box. Immediately after, his clearance sailed left into the stands. It was his first poor clearance in quite a while, so it’s possible his groin was bothering him prior to the 2nd half.

– Kai Wagner picked up a red card in the 89th minute on a sliding tackle with studs to the shin. It was one of the few mistakes he’s made all season and Jim Curtin called it “Silly. Really silly”. I agree. Although the effort is applauded, the match was over and the tackle was unnecessary with the match well in hand.

– Lastly, Collin filled in nicely for McKenzie. He looked right at home in the bright blue parley jersey, similar to his old Sporting Kansas City kit he wore for many years.

Curtin has a lot of decisions to make next week. Does he go with Freese again or Carlos Miguel Coronel on the road in Vancouver? Will it be Fabinho or Olivier Mbaizo filling in for Wagner? Do David Accam or Picault re-enter the starting lineup after Burke’s solid game this week? One thing is for sure: The club as a whole is playing as well or even better than expected. Bedoya, Medunjanin, Brenden Aaronson, Jack Elliot and Ray Gaddis have been playing virtually mistake-free soccer for several weeks. Once everyone is back and healthy, they could be the deepest club in the Eastern Conference. Third place, and dare I say trending upwards.

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Mandatory Credit:
Mandatory Credit AP Photo/Derik Hamilton & Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports