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Match report: Philadelphia Union 2-1 Montreal Impact

Photo: Paul Rudderow

A dramatic stoppage time winner from Carlos Valdes saw Philadelphia Union grab a last minute 2-1 victory Saturday against the expansion Montreal Impact.

Just when the Impact looked to have stolen a point in their first visit to PPL Park, Valdes saved his side and the Union earned their third consecutive league win for the first time in club history.

After a dour first half, substitutes Lionard Pajoy and Antoine Hoppenot provided the lift the Union needed. Following Hoppenot’s powerful run to the endline, Pajoy caused chaos in the box and when Montreal goalie Donovan Ricketts failed to gather the ball, the striker smashed it into the roof of the net. The Union looked set for victory until a 90th minute mix-up between Keon Daniel and Zac MacMath gifted Montreal an equalizer off a Patrice Bernier corner.

That set up Valdes’ dramatic winner as he pounced on Sheanon Williams’ long throw, slotting underneath Donovan Ricketts to seal the victory in stoppage time.

First Half

With Michael Farfan unavailable due to injury, Union manager John Hackworth dropped Freddy Adu into the midfield and deployed Keon Daniel in the right forward channel. On the other wing, Josue Martinez made a rare start in place of Pajoy.

The Union were out quickly with Martinez streaking up the wing to receive a fine flick from Jack McInerney.  Finding space to deliver, Martinez picked out Adu at the top of the box, and Adu forced Ricketts to claw away a fine shot at full stretch.

Minutes later, McInerney and Adu found each other to set Martinez free again. The Costa Rican’s pass fell to Daniel, who set the table for the onrushing Michael Lahoud, but Lahoud’s shot flew high and wide of the target.

Despite the strong early pressure, the match fell into sloppy back and forth play as neither side kept possession in midfield, with both sides guilty of passes that failed to find their marks.

Montreal began to make small inroads. Compact and organized at the back, Montreal was content to absorb pressure and seek out counterattacking opportunities. As the half wore on, the Union grew increasingly careless in midfield, gifting the Impact more chances to get forward.

In the 35th minute, a Lahoud giveaway sent Justin Mapp streaking in on the Union net. MacMath was quick off his line and made an excellent save on his former teammate, with Gabriel Farfan sliding in to clear the danger before Marco Di Vaio could pounce on the rebound.

Two minutes later, Felipe had the best chance of the half when he found space in the box and rose to meet Mapp’s cross. Fortunately for the Union, Felipe’s header rattled off the woodwork, and the scoreboard remained blank.

Halftime could not come soon enough for the Union, with Montreal winning the race to the ball and controlling the physical play.

Second Half

A knock sustained in the final move of the first frame saw Adu take his place on the bench, with Pajoy entering the match and Daniel moving to midfield.

Pajoy was active early and got behind the defense in the 50th minute, only to see his touch let him down.

Montreal fought back. Di Vaio had a chance after Justin Mapp picked him out at the top of the box. Cutting inside Williams, Di Vaio could not get good contact on the ball, sending his shot wide of the far post.

The Union were looking to push the game, and their response was immediate. A switch of fields found Williams in space up the right wing. His bending cross sought out the head of a diving Jack McInerney, who was unlucky to see his powerful header saved by Ricketts following a redirection off the hand of Hassoum Camara which was not spotted by referee Juan Guzman.

Camara again came close to conceding a penalty in the 61st minute when he hacked down McInerney in the box. Caught flat-footed by the streaking Union striker, Camara stuck a leg out and felled McInerney. Guzman got the call wrong however, not only deeming there was no foul, but also incorrectly awarding McInerney a caution for simulation.

Undaunted, the Union pressed forward. When Gabriel Farfan found himself alone near the left corner flag, he picked out Pajoy in the box. Left unmarked, Pajoy failed to find direction with his header, launching it over the bar.

Montreal nearly stole the lead moments later. Mapp again found himself deep in Union territory before squaring a ball for Patrice Bernier. With MacMath scrambling to get across, Bernier ballooned his shot over the bar with the help of a slight deflection.

In the 72nd minute, MacMath was needed to save the day for the Union. When Di Vaio stole in behind Amobi Okugo, MacMath came off his line and was fortunate to get the slightest of touches off of his right arm, sending the ball rolling inches outside of the post.

Both goalkeepers were in sterling form and Ricketts was the next to showcase his shotstopping. Cutting in from the left, Gabriel Farfan spun towards the center of the box and launched a shot to which Ricketts was again equal. The danger was not over for the Montreal keeper as the rebound fell invitingly for Pajoy, but the Colombian’s shot was too close to Ricketts, who smothered it with his legs.

Frantic final ten

Just when the match looked destined for a 0-0 scoreline, substitute Antoine Hoppenot once again provided the spark, setting up Pajoy for the opener in the 82nd minute. Strong on the ball, Hoppenot held off two defenders before connecting on a give-and-go with Gomez, who played Hoppenot toward the endline. Again holding off his defender, Hoppenot powered a low cross toward goal. Ricketts could not corral it among a maze of feet, and Pajoy reacted quickly, smashing the ball into the roof of the net from a yard out.

The Union looked poised to see out the victory, but in the 89th minute, Montreal would find an equalizer. Bernier served a corner to the near post, and a miscommunication between Daniel and MacMath saw Daniel deflect a header into the net.

It was a gut punch to a Union side who thought they had done enough to earn the victory. But rather than hang their heads, they pushed forward. Minutes later, in stoppage time, they were rewarded.

Philadelphia threw bodies forward in anticipation of a long Williams throw. Valdes was first to the ball. After he flicked a header off former Union defender Shavar Thomas, the ball fell back to Valdes. He then slid it beneath the sprawling Ricketts and sent PPL Park into euphoria and the Union into the lead to stay.

Having taken maximum points from their last three matches, the Union are beginning to reel in the rest of the Eastern Conference. The Union will face Aston Villa in a friendly Wednesday night before heading to Harrison, N.J. to renew their rivalry with New York Red Bulls.

Philadelphia Union

Zac MacMath: Sheanon WIlliams, Amobi Okugo, Carlos Valdes, Gabriel Farfan; Brian Carroll, Michael Lahoud (Gabriel Gomez ’66), Freddy Adu (Lionard Pajoy ’46); Keon Daniel, Jack McInerney, Josue Martinez (Antoine Hoppenot ’60)

Unused substitutes: Chase Harrison, Raymon Gaddis, Roger Torres, Chris Albright

Montreal Impact

Donovan Ricketts; Zarek Valentin (Dennis Iapichino ’85), Hassoun Camara, Shavar Thomas, Jeb Brovsky; Collen Warner (Sinisa Ubiparipovic ’85), Patrice Bernier, Felipe Martins, Davy Arnaud, Justin Mapp (Lamar Neagle ’69); Marco Di Vaio

Unused substitutes: Evan Bush, Eduardo Sebrango, Josh Gardner, Karl Ouimette

Scoring Summary

82 – PHI: Pajoy (Hoppenot)

89 – MTL: Own goal

90 – PHI: Valdes (Williams)

Discipline Summary

60 – PHI: McInerney (caution; simulation)


Juan Guzman


  1. What what are we blaming MacMAth for? His right handed save was fantastic.

  2. Andy Muenz says:

    Except for the Impact supporters, I was probably the only one at PPL who agreed with the call when JackMac went down in the box and got the card for diving. I thought (both live and on replay) that Jack passed the ball and then left his feet before any contact was made. The defender had his feet planted and Jack went straight into the leg. In basketball it would have been a charge on the offensive player.

    • Couldn’t disagree more. It was not a dive. Perhaps it’s a no call as Mack may have initiated the contact but the defender can’t set his legs out and block him. Mack had him beat The ref just didnt want to decide the game. I can’t blame him for that but to say it was an obvious dive deserving of a yellow is wrong. Look at similar plays around the league and in other countries. Sometimes no call, sometimes penalty but yellow.
      On another note we have two yellows for dives. Do any other teams have two and if not why. That s the real question as i watch people fall, jesticulate, and moan like they were shot and nary a yellow to be seen. I don’t watch that many games other than he union but haven’t seen one.

      • Eli Pearlman-Storch says:

        Additionally consider the blatant dive by Felipe Martins in the first half. The referee had a good view of that, and immediately waved play on and admonished Martins for the dive. That is more obvious by far, yet no card. How is that not a yellow?
        Sorry Andy, but I believe that you and the referee have this one dead wrong. Did McInerney go looking for the penalty? Absolutely. He’s entitled too. He pushed the ball around Camara and then ran around him. Camara is allowed to hold his ground, but that is not what happened, he stuck a leg out and McInerney used the contact with that leg with to win a penalty. clear as day. Yellow to Camara, Penalty to the Union.

      • josh for the U says:

        agree with Eli 2, completely backwards call. At the very most it should have been a no call

      • Philly Cheese says:

        It would be fair if MLS Disciplinary Committee took away the yellow card…..as an admonishment to ref.
        Don’t want to take away the great positive final 10-15 minutes, but ball control was really bad in spots and look forward to fair analysis of players full game results. Daniel, Lahoud, and Adu looked pretty tentative in ball movement. Okugo was stellar.

      • Andy Muenz says:

        After watching the TV broadcast, I can better understand the argument for a penalty. However, watching live I still thought that Jack left his feet before the contact which is why I called it a dive even before the ref did. As far as the handball deflection, that should have been a penalty but was understandable the ref didn’t see it. (I didn’t see it until the TV replay.) One amusing thing is that the box score on the MLS website has the yellow card given to Keon rather than Jack.

      • i saw it as a dive too. haven’t seen the replays of it yet. don’t really think it was a card worthy dive either way though.

  3. F for the ref.. I hope he watch this game and c his errors….

  4. I kinda liked Pajoy finding his inner Scott Harnell and playing power forward for that first goal.

  5. Sean Doyle says:

    I was very fortunate to watch the final 15+ minutes from field level just in front of the River End. I was so close to the action, Valdes struck his winner right in front of me and the family. The energy that comes from the River End is indescribable. A truly amazing experience, just WOW! Great character win for the Union.

  6. James Korman says:

    Wow….I love Philly Union soccer! What an ending!!! I think I scared the crap out of my cats and dogs after Carlos netted the game winning goal. I went totally berserk.

    In the span of 15 minutes I went from nervous to comfortably ecstatic to totally devastated….then back to ecstatic(but nervous as hell!) Finally: IMMENSE SATISFACTION!

    Way to go boys! Gutty win! 3 huge points!

  7. James Korman says:

    Wacky thought so bear with me a second. As the 1st half was going on I couldn’t help wondering what would’ve happened if Coach Hack had simply moved Garfan into the injured Marfan’s spot on the pitch and kept our new starting Six up-front in tact. Gabe looks like he has many of the same ‘filthy’ skills (and vision) of his twin Bro. The times Gabe did move forward attacking he looked really good…..like Marfan. Just a thought. Hopefully Michael Farfan is back healthy ASAP!

    • i thought garfan was one of the best players on the pitch yesterday.

    • I think we need to get Garfan in at wing forward if only we had someone else who played left back.

      • I think that farfan is a top six LB in the league and we have plenty of midfield players so for this reason we should leave well enough alone. Also with the way amobi and Carlos have been playing with help in the center from Carroll gabe has had plenty of chances to dash up the wing. I think the team is starting to take pride in the way they are playing especially on the back line. The starting XI we had on Saturday is the one to go with for now with the exception of Keon and Martinez who subbed obviously for fitness and injury issues for pajoy and marfan.

      • no way i’d leave lahoud on when i could play gomez.

      • James Korman says:

        When fit Gomez should start over Lahoud. Without a doubt.

      • The key is fit. I like him for now as an earlier sub givenscorelie

    • I would agree if Lopez wasn’t our back up at left back

  8. Biggest thing I took from this game is Keon is not a forward. He is good depth on the wing and has height but he is too easily pushed off the ball especially given his size.

    Also okugo was again fabulous given age and position. I am a little worried about moving soumare in. We will see abut I am encourages by our tenacity.

    • If Keon were 6’6″ it wouldn’t matter. His desire and positioning on balls in the air is so bad it’s shocking.
      The problem with him in midfield is he has no desire to track back defensively.

    • I completely agree on the soumare issue, valdes and okugo have been our most consistent players lately and neither of them deserve to be benched for soumare at the moment

  9. Thought the team (except defense) was terrible until Hoppenot came on. No one had any ideas nor made things happen. Hoppenot is a sparkplug that makes this team tick and he is a biggest factor why we have had so many wins lately. He and the whole backline are all All-Star worthy.

  10. I think the lackluster performance from the U was similar to the game against Sporting KC. We were content to just possess the ball and not go forward and when we came under pressure we would hit a long ball.
    If this game was not 2nd game in the week for the 4th week in a row I would not be okay with our performance; but because it is I can understand the fatigue factor and I am quite happy with the performance from the team. I mean they hold off Montreal for 89 mins and even they we scored on ourselves. The subs came in and made the difference like they were supposed to and we came away with 3 points.
    The referee sucked again for both teams. We head back into somewhat of a normal schedule and hopefully we can get more recover and be able to dominate the pace of the game against the pink cows.
    My point is that we should be content with the 3 points, it wasnt pretty but we got the job done despite the fatigue factor

    • agreed on all points. i think montreal was playing with a compact spacing between their defensive and midfield lines just like kc too. someone needs to figure out moving the ball through that. i thought marfan should have been subbed on before i heard he was injured. kinda curious what torres could have done with it.

  11. I’m very happy we won the game. There was some stagnant play, but all in all this is not a game we would have won early in the season.

    One question though, and I’m very serious about this. I really just do not see what Keon brings to the table. He is not especially fast, not good in the air, not quick footed, and not creative defensively. I’m curious to hear from other soccer fans who watch all the games to see if I am just completely missing something.

    That being said he’s not a BAD player, he just doesn’t necessarily bring anything extra, and I’d have rather seen pajoy/Gomez or especially Torres out there.

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