Union looks to end the Curse of Union Yards against CF Montreal

Mandatory Credit: Philadelphia Union

The Philadelphia Union’s 0-0 draw against Toronto FC continued the winless streak at Subaru Park, a streak that has gone on for over two months now. The Union’s last win at home was on March 30th, when the Boys in Blue defeated Minnesota United by a score of 2-0, with goals by Daniel Gazdag and Julian Carranza. The club will look to end this streak on Saturday, June 1st when CF Montreal and Laurent Courtois come to town.

Mandatory Credit: Philadelphia Union

Union vs Montreal History

Philadelphia has gone up against CF Montreal a total of 28 times in MLS regular season play, and it has not been the best of times for them. The Union have a record 9 wins, 9 draws, and 10 losses against the Canadian side, with matches going back all the way to 2012 when they first played at PPL Park. The two clubs have not yet faced off this season, so their two latest match-ups were last season.

Philly were able to win the match at Subaru Park by a score of 3-0, but they lost the match at Stade Olympique 3-2. The match at Stade Olympique was a memorable one (in a bad way) for all Union fans, as Philadelphia conceded two goals in the 90th minute and later, and ended up blowing the 2-1 lead.

Mandatory Credit: Philadelphia Union

CF Montreal’s Season So Far

Laurent Courtois has not had the best start to life in Montreal so far this season, as his CF Montreal side is 13th in the Eastern Conference and 23rd place in the Supporters Shield table. Montreal has a record of 4 wins, 4 draws, and 7 losses, along with a negative 12 goal differential.

Over their last five matches in MLS play, the Canadian side has 1 win, 1 draw, and 3 losses, scoring 8 goals and allowing 13. Sunusi Ibrahim is the club’s leading scorer with 4 goals, and Ariel Lassiter and Matias Coccaro are second with three goals. When it comes to assists, Ariel Lassiter is once again in the top three, as he leads the club with four assists. Josef Martinez is second with three, and Ruan is third with two. 

Preview By The Numbers

Current Form- Last 5 GamesPhiladelphia Union: L, L, W, D, DCF Montreal: L, L, L, D, W
Expected Goals:Philadelphia25.3 xGMontreal: 21.4 xG
Total Goals Scored:Philadelphia Union25 goals scoredCF Montreal: 21 goals scored
Expected Conceded Goals:Philadelphia19.1 xGAMontreal: 28.2 xGA
Goals Conceded:Philadelphia Union21 goals concededCF Montreal: 33 goals conceded
Top Goal-Scorers:Philadelphia: Gazdag – 9, Carranza – 6, Uhre – 4Montreal: Ibrahim – 4, Lassiter – 3, Coccaro – 3
Top Assists Leaders:Philadelphia Union: Sullivan – 4, McGlynn – 3, Wagner – 2CF Montreal: Lassiter – 4, Martinez – 3, Ruan – 2
Union, MLS
Mandatory Credit: Philadelphia Union

Keys to the Game

1) Get the Attack Going

The Philadelphia Union attack has been subpar as of late, with the team not scoring a single goal over their last two matches. If you take out the match against the 10-men New England Revolution, Philly has scored 3 goals in their previous 4. If the team wants to end the winless streak at Subaru Park, they need to start putting the ball in the back of the net, and Saturday is no better time to do it.

In the entire league, Montreal has allowed the second most goals in 33, proving that the Union will be able to score a couple in on target. Philly’s front three can be one of the most lethal in the MLS when they are playing at their best, and Saturday will be a huge match to determine whether they will be able to get back to that form. Even if Julian Carranza is not available, Mikael Uhre, Daniel Gazdag, and one of Quinn Sullivan, Chris Donovan, or Tai Baribo, will be able to show their quality. 

2) Shutouts, Shutouts, Shutouts

While the Union have struggled offensively over their last three matches, the defense has been playing to the level that we know they can. Three clean sheets in a row is something that all fans would have loved to see a month ago, and now it is a reality. The backline of Kai Wagner, Jakob Glesnes, Jack Elliott, and Nathan Harriel is playing extremely well right now, and that is something that Jim Curtin will love to see. Add that to the fact that Oliver Semmle is seeming to be more and more comfortable each start he has, and the Union defense will once again opposing teams’ fear.

Montreal’s attack has been nothing special this season, scoring 21 goals in 15 matches. As shown in the chart, Sunusi Ibrahim is the club’s leading goal scorer with 4 goals, and Ariel Lassiter is second with 3. In addition to the low-scoring efforts, five of Montreal’s attackers are out for the match (Coccaro, Martinez, Opoku, Toye, and Vilsaint). Philadelphia’s defense showing their ability will be an important aspect of the match that should not be overlooked.

3) Go into the International Break on a High Note

The match against Montreal will be the Union’s last match until June 15th, when Inter Miami comes to town. But Philly’s squad will be looking a little different, as all the different international tournaments will be starting to take place. The club will lose lots of key players to these tournaments, so ending this winless streak at home against Montreal will be a boost for everyone.

They know they have the talent to win and compete, and things just do not seem right at the moment. Whether it be the Curse of Union Yards or something else, being able to get the three points in the last match before the break will be another win for the club in a multitude of ways.

Mandatory Credit: Philadelphia Union

Lineup Predictions

In his pre-match press conference on Friday, manager Jim Curtin said that Julian Carranza will be a game-time decision for the match against Montreal, leaving the club with a decision to make for Saturday.

In addition to the Carranza news, Curtin also said that striker Markus Anderson picked up a knock in training and will be unavailable for the match, leaving the Union forward depth to Uhre, Sullivan, Baribo, and Donovan, if Carranza is unavailable as well. In addition to the injury news, Curtin also stated that some rotation is coming, so with the updates that were received, here is how I think the Union will lineup against CF Montreal on Saturday night:

GK: Oliver Semmle
RB: Olivier Mbaizo, CB: Jakob Glesnes, CB: Jack Elliott, LB: Kai Wagner
CDM: Leon Flach
RCM: Ale Bedoya, LCM: Jack McGlynn
CAM: Daniel Gazdag
ST: Quinn Sullivan, ST: Mikael Uhre 

Mandatory Credit: Philadelphia Union

Score Prediction

If there was a match for the Union to end their winless streak at home, this match is the one to do it. Montreal has struggled in all areas of the pitch this season and seems like a team that Philly should easily take care of. Add in the fact that Montreal will be missing 7 players, and the Union should not have any difficulties. Yes, Philadelphia’s form lately has not been the best overall, but with all the Montreal injuries and the struggles they have, I can see the Union pulling out a 2-0 win at home to end the winless streak.

Mandatory Credit: Philadelphia Union

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Mandatory Credit: Philadelphia Union