The Philadelphia Union traveled to the Montreal Olympic Stadium where they took all three points in a 2-1 win against CF Montreal. The game was played indoor due to the low outdoor temperatures in the area on a field that was far from ideal.
The field was turf that in all honesty, looked more like poor carpeting and it didn’t do either team any favors. The Union made two changes to their starting lineup from a week before leaving Burke out of the squad for family matters and starting Harriel at right back over Mbaizo.
First Half: Philadelphia Union Go Down First
The game started with tentative play from both sides while they tried to navigate the field and how the ball would roll, bounce, and generally move throughout the match. The game was back and forth but with the better play coming from the Union until the 32nd minute when Montreal struck the first blow.
There was a scramble at the top of the box that ended up at the feet of Montreal’s left-wing back Lassi Lappalainen. Harriel stepped and Lappalainen took a shot that in real time looked so bad I actually looked away from the screen assuming it had gone over the net. I then heard the sound of a loud bell, looked up, and realized there was a wicked deflection that took a ball that would have been in the bleachers and tucked it in the side netting.
It was an unfortunate goal that neither Harriel nor Blake could do anything about, but what it did was put Montreal on the front foot for the last 13 minutes of the first half. The biggest issue in the first half for the Union was the 3-5-2 formation Montreal was lined up in. Three at the back formations are notoriously difficult to press against because of the positioning of the wing backs.
With the Union playing their narrow 4-1-2-1-2 formation it made it even more difficult to press effectively which allowed Montreal to easily switch the ball from one side of the pitch to the other.
Tale of Two Halves
Coming out of the break, both teams lined up the same and more hectic played ensued. Not five minutes into the second half, Djordje Mihailovic picked up the ball around mid-field and went on a run through the heart of the Union defense which ended in the 23 year old slotting a shot past Andre Blake
This goal was overturned, however, due to Djordje committing a foul in the process of him gaining possession in the buildup. This was where the momentum shifted in the Unions favor. A few minutes after the disallowed goal, there was a scrum in the box that started with Sergio Santos holding up the ball while holding off a defender.
The ball then went to Gazdag who appeared to get fouled but there was no call. The ball then found its way to Alejandro Bedoya, who tucked a left footed shot in the bottom left-hand corner. After a VAR check and a goal confirmation the game kicked off again but not three minutes after the first Union goal, a second was scored.
The ball was played down the line to Carranza who took the ball perfectly off of his chest and played a gorgeous ball to Gazdag inside the box where his took a touch on the run and slotted the ball home. That goal would be the winner but not without some drama as Union games tend to always have.
Before the bad, a bit of good happened when Union record-signing Mikael Uhre entered the match in the 68th minute, spelling Sergio Santos (who had a decent outing of his own). Uhre had two good chances to score getting in behind the back line of Montreal but being shut out by the keeper on each occasion.Despite not scoring, his movement and speed were great signs of things (goals) to come.
The bad that happened was in the 71st minute when Carranza received his second yellow card of the match resulting in his ejection. The foul in question was a bit soft, but already on a yellow card, Carranza has to be more aware of the situation and be a bit more cautious.
The Union, now playing with ten men had their backs against the wall and were defending an onslaught of attacks from Montreal for the better part of the of 20 minutes.
In the 76th minute Mbaizo entered the match for Gazdag changing the Union to a five at the back. Then in the 87th minute Quinn Sullivan came in for Ale Bedoya who looked like he turned back the hands of time in this match. The final whistle blew after 97 minutes of play and the Union claim a much needed three points on the road.
The Union now head home to face San Jose, who drew to Columbus 3-3 at home playing down a man for 60 plus minutes.
Photo By: Kyle Ross/Icon Sportswire