The MLS season continues to roll on and the Philadelphia Union are looking to rebound from losing their first game of the season last weekend against Toronto. This weekend they face a familiar opponent in CF Montreal, who they beat in the reverse fixture in the 2nd week of the season. Here are 5 things to watch ahead of the game.
5 Things to Watch
All is Not Lost for Philly
Losing any game of football isn’t a great feeling but when you’ve been on a run like the Union has been, it can mean people lose their minds over it and overreact to the result, which is what seems to have happened with sections of the Philly support.
As I stated in my piece before the Toronto game, Toronto is a team in form and had sorted their issues out from the beginning of the season, it was always going to be a difficult game and Toronto is an extremely effective and clinical side. At no point was Philly completely outplayed or embarrassed, it just came down to the fact Toronto took their chances and Philly didn’t.
Philly was never going to go the entire season unbeaten and a loss was coming at some point and I think a lot of people can take solace in the fact it happened to a good side and they didn’t slip up against a side like Inter Miami or DC United.
Montreal On the Rise
After the 2nd game of the season, when Montreal and Philadelphia met in a 2-1 win for the Union, I had Montreal and Philly going on completely different paths, I didn’t see where Montreal could improve, and outside of Djordje Mihailovic, I didn’t think they had much going for them. Well, they’ve proven me wrong.
Since losing to the Union and crashing out of the Champions League, Montreal has won their last 3 games and is unbeaten in 4 games. Just like Toronto, Philly will be coming up against another team in form and it’s going to be a tough test.
Similar to Toronto, Montreal has really found success going forward. Averaging 53.3% possession over their games this season, whilst scoring 13 goals (3rd highest in the MLS), and 10 assists to those 13 goals (2nd highest in the MLS), Montreal is a very efficient attacking side that will test the Philly backline in similar ways to the Toronto game.
Philly does have a positive in this matchup though and it’s the fact Montreal is one of the worst defensive sides in the league. They really don’t press too much and are doing the bottom half of the MLS averages for every defensive stat you can think of. Philly should have way more attacking freedom in this game.
Nothing to Worry About in Philly
I was trying to look for an outlet of frustration or someone to blame for the Toronto loss but I couldn’t come up with everyone. Over the course of the season, everyone on the Philly team has played great and so there’s no spreading issue within the team.
There are some players that are having better seasons than others but everyone’s been, at the very least, solid across the season. Uhre and Carranza worked really well in the Toronto game and even combined for Philly’s game. Gazdag had an off game but he’s been the star of the show so far, whilst everyone else contributed a lot to the game.
It’s not what I want from a professional standpoint, because it gives me nothing to write on, but there’s nothing to worry about at all with this Philly team.
Montreal’s Star Men
I think most people will know at least one of the guys I want to talk about in this section and you’d probably think I’m crazy if I didn’t mention him, so one of the star men for Montreal is attacking midfielder Djordje Mihailovic.
Mihailovic has been one of the biggest stars and performers in the MLS this season. In 6 starts the American midfielder has 4 goals and 2 assists and is looking to keep the great performances going as he bids to grab a spot in the USMNT’s World Cup squad. In the reverse fixture earlier in the season, Philly did a good job at keeping Djordje’s influence to a minimum and Jose Martinez will be looking to do the same again.
The other Montreal player I want to talk about is forward Romell Quioto. The Honduras striker didn’t have a great start to the season and actually missed out on the previous meeting between these two sides due to a suspension but in his last 3 games he has a goal in each of them, so the Union backline will be facing a striker in form. Quioto partnered with Djordje will be a fierce duo for Philly to deal with and it could be a real gamechanger for Montreal.
Last week I was pretty spot on with my predictions as I guessed the scoreline would be 2-1 and I had Pozuelo grabbing a goal, I also predicted the game to be a very open and flowing game with a lot of offensive football taking place.
This week I sense the game will be very similar to the Toronto game, both teams will enjoy going forward and attacking and I can see a few goals being scored. I’m backing Uhre again to score and I think the game will end 2-2 with Uhre, Gazdag, Djordje, and Quioto grabbing the goals.
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Mandatory Credit: Philadelphia Union, Andrew Zwarych