Philadelphia Union vs CF Montreal: Game preview & predictions as Union try to steady the ship

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Image Credit: Philadelphia Union

I’m not sure anyone could have predicted that Union would be heading up to Montreal at the end of June sitting below the playoff line and with just 1 win in their previous 13 games, but here we are – that’s the reality DOOP fans are living in at the moment.

A 2-0 loss to Charlotte at home was met with chants of “Sell The Team”, capping off one of the worst runs of form this Philadelphia Union team has ever seen. And now, with players still out due to international duty and injuries alike, Union head North to take on CF Montreal – a fixture that’s seen it’s fair-share of dramatic results over recent years.

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Union’s Season So Far

After starting the season as Major League Soccer’s last unbeaten team, things have spiraled out of control for the Philadelphia Union. A 2-0 loss to FC Charlotte at home brought their record to 4W-8D-7L for a total of 20 points, putting them 2 spots below the Eastern Conference playoff line at #11, sitting just 1 point behind Atlanta in the final #9 position, but just 3 points above Chicago Fire, bottom dwellers of the Eastern Conference.

With 0 wins in their previous 6 games, just 1 in their previous 13, and no wins at home since March 30th against Minnesota United, this Philadelphia Union – quite literally the same team that has competed at the highest level for the last couple of seasons – is struggling, and maybe more than they ever have before considering the expectations this team has in comparison to teams of the past.

CF Montreal and Union History

Since their first meeting back in 2012, Union have an overall record of 9W-10D-10L vs CF Montreal, but have struggled when traveling north of the border, amassing a record of just 4W-2D-8L across 14 games.

Union have lost just 2 of their previous 10 meetings with CF Montreal, with their latest match in Canada ending in a controversial 3-2 loss for Union in which Montreal scored 2 stoppage-time goals, headlined by the referee reviewing and overturning his own VAR decision.

CF Montreal came to Subaru Park earlier this season and found an equalizer in the later stages of the game after Jack Elliott was sent off with a red card, earning Montreal a point on the road.

Preview By The Numbers

Current Form- Last 5 GamesPhiladelphia Union: D, D, L, L, LCF Montreal: W, D, D, D, L
Expected Goals:Philadelphia Union33.42 xG (10th best)CF Montreal: 25.4 xG (26th best)
Total Goals Scored:Philadelphia Union31 goals scoredCF Montreal: 24 goals scored
Expected Conceded Goals:Philadelphia Union26.4 xGACF Montreal: 37.3 xGA
Goals Conceded:Philadelphia Union31 goals concededCF Montreal: 41 goals conceded
Top Goal-Scorers:Philadelphia Union: Gazdag – 10, Uhre – 5, Baribo/Bedoya/McGlynn – 2CF Montreal: Ibrahim – 6, Cóccaro/Lassiter – 3, Choinière -2
Top Assists Leaders:Philadelphia Union: Wagner – 6, – Sullivan – 5, McGlynn – 4CF Montreal: Ruan/Lassiter – 5, Choinière/Martinez – 3,
Image Credit: Philadelphia Union

Player Availability

MLS has yet to release its official Player Status Availability Report for Matchday 23, but it’s safe to assume that both teams with be dealing with some absences come Saturday afternoon.

Philadelphia Union will still be without Damion Lowe and Jose Martinez who are both representing their countries in the COPA America’s.

It was also revealed on Friday that Mikael Uhre will miss the next 2-3 weeks with a groin strain, which will be a huge miss for Union with Carranza already off to Europe. Daniel Gazdag, who was away with Hungary at the EUROs, was set to return to Philadelphia on Thursday night, but his status for Saturday’s match is still up in the air given his quick return and long travel arrangements.

Ale Bedoya, after suffering a quad injury against Miami, is getting closer to a return and has started training on the field again, but is still doing work by himself off to the side, which means he’s not expected to be involved Saturday.

And finally – while still early days – Andre Blake has returned to training on the field and is starting to do work with gloves on for the first time in a while. He’s not there yet, but it’s a good first step for Andre, says Jim Curtin.

As for CF Montreal, they too are dealing with a few important names off on international duty. Mathieu Choinière, Ariel Lassiter, Samuel Piette, and Joel Waterman are all still away representing their countries at COPA America.

Lineup Predictions

It’s a weird time in Philadelphia to try and predict a Union starting XI. The team is currently in one of the worst stretches of form it’s ever been in, Julian Carranza’s all-but-official departure for Feyenoord is set in stone, and important players are injured or off on international duty, but here’s how I think Jim Curtin lines up against CF Montreal up North on Saturday night

GK: Oliver Semmle
RB: Nate Harriel, CB: Jakob Glesnes, CB: Jack Elliott, LB: Kai Wagner
CDM: Leon Flach
LCM: Jack McGlynn, RCM: Jesus Bueno
CAM: Jeremy Rafanello
ST: Quinn Sullivan, ST: Tai Baribo

Your options at CB are Jack Elliott and Jakob Glesnes, with Nate Harriel being the fallback 3rd option. We saw Curtin call on young GK Andrew Rick to provide a spark against FC Charlotte, which resulted in a 2-0 loss, but throwing Rick out against Montreal on the road seems like a big ask for an 18-year-old, so I’m going with Semmle in this one.

I think Leon Flach and the two strikers are set, but I could see the CM’s and CAM lining up in a few different ways.

I don’t think that Daniel Gazdag will get the start, but with him playing very minimal minutes while at the EURO’s, I wouldn’t be entirely shocked to see Dani get some minutes on Saturday. Curtin said it himself, it would be silly for the team to have him make the trip up to Montreal and not put him in the game. My best guess is that Gazdag features off the bench on Saturday night.

Image Credit: Philadelphia Union

Score Predictions

It’s bleak right now if you’re a Philadelphia Union fan – Anything that can go wrong has gone wrong, and this team is finding new ways to drop points week after week. A 4-3 last-second loss to FC Cincinnati ended Union’s streak as the only unbeaten team on the road in MLS this season, but their resiliency to draw the game even 3 times exemplified not only their ability to fight back and stay in games – but also their ability to blow them as of late too.

Daniel Gazdag’s involvement will be huge in this game. If Dani can get in the game for even 25-30 minutes, that enhances Union’s chances of scoring and ultimately walking away from Montreal with some points exponentially.

But second to none for me in this one, is Union’s backline. 31 goals conceded in 19 games this season after letting in 41 all of last year is a huge concern. Obviously, Andre Blake’s absence plays a big part in how this former MLS Best defense plays – but whether it’s Oliver Semmle or 18-year-old Andre Rick in net again on Saturday night, this backline needs to do a better job of protecting its net and inexperienced keepers behind them.

When all is said and done, I think Union will walk away from Montreal with a point in their pocket on Saturday night. A small, but much-needed moral victory for this team before heading out to Chicago for a mid-week clash against the Fire. It won’t be easy though, as Laurent Courtois’ CF Montreal haven’t lost in league play at home since May 15th in a 3-1 loss to the defending champs, Columbus Crew. 2-2 on Saturday between CF Montreal and Philadelphia Union, with Mikael Uhre and Tai Baribo getting on the score sheet.

Image Credit: Philadelphia Union