Union match reports

Match Report: Philadelphia Union 0-0 Montreal Impact

Despite dominating large portions of Saturday night’s Eastern Conference showdown with the Montreal Impact, the Philadelphia Union could not convert their chances and settled for a 0-0 draw.

Philadelphia entered the game coming off a performance a week ago in which they surrendered 5 goals, while Montreal scored 5 against Houston the day before. The Union’s makeshift defense, minus the suspended Amobi Okugo, figured to be on display.

Instead, the Impact chose to sit back and employed typical, if dour, road tactics.

In the end, the Union remained the aggressor, but the combination of Troy Perkins’ gloves and some less than sharp finishing saw the match end goalless.

“In my opinion, we had the better chances,” said defender Sheanon Williams, who played a solid game at center back in place of Okugo. “We could have snuck that one away with them, but we’ve got to take what we can and move forward. We’ve got another game on Sunday – a long road trip – and something that we need to get points out of.”

First Half

Okugo’s suspension forced a back line shuffle, with Williams sliding in to partner with Jeff Parke and Ray Gaddis returning from injury to feature on his preferred right side. Otherwise, John Hackworth made one other change, with Jack McInerney returning to the starting lineup in place of Michael Farfan.

Montreal got the match going with early pressure but quickly retreated, finding their shape largely within their defensive half. Eager to avoid allowing Philadelphia to counter, the Impact sat as many as 10 players behind the ball as they attempted to deprive McInerney and Conor Casey the space they needed to operate.

The Union’s attacking twosome nearly made the Impact pay in the 13th minute when Casey jumped with Hassoun Camara, forcing a partial clearance that fell to McInerney. Shooting through his defender’s legs, McInerney was unable to fool Troy Perkins who smothered comfortably.

Sebastien Le Toux had the Union’s next look at goal after combining with Keon Daniel in the 20th minute. But after using a subtle touch to create his own shot, Le Toux rolled a harmless effort into Perkins arms.

Montreal nearly stole a goal in the 24th minute, but the Union were rescued by the offsides flag. When Justin Mapp caught Fabinho in possession, the Union left back clanked a heavy pass off of Brian Carroll, allowing Mapp to race away with the loose ball. Finding space at the top of the box, Zac MacMath spilled Mapp’s shot into the path of Marco Di Vaio, but the Italian had strayed beyond the final defender and the play was blown dead.

The Impact continued to look for their chances on the counter, but the Union’s scrambling defense was too quick for visitors, with Williams and Gaddis combining well to snuff out a partial chance from Felipe Martins and Mapp.

When he managed to get forward, Fabinho’s deliveries threatened to open up the Impact’s defense. In the 31st minute, Perkins dealt poorly with a softly flighted cross, but the Union could not make anything of the chance, with Danny Cruz losing his footing at the crucial moment.

From the resulting corner, Cruz then nearly opened the scoring for the Union from the other side of pitch. The set piece was well cleared by Montreal, but the Union winger raced nearly from touchline to touchline to harass Patrice Bernier into a turnover. Charging at goal with the stolen ball, Cruz found a shooting lane, but ballooned his shot over the cross bar.

As time wore down in the half, the Union almost found the vital opener when Cruz slipped in behind Jeb Brovsky. But when Le Toux received Cruz’s smart cutback, he was unable to beat Perkins, who came up with an equally smart close range save. Unable to beat the ball to safety though, Perkins looked on gratefully as McInerney pounded the rebound wide of the near post.

Second Half

If the Union expected an aggressive second half response from the Impact, none was coming. Both sides quickly resumed the roles they had held in the first half. The Union attempted little through the middle, leaving Cruz, Le Toux, and the fullbacks to serve in crosses from the wings, while Montreal remained content to hit back on the counterattack.

One such counterattack nearly opened up the Union defense in the 56th minute. Cutting into the box, Di Vaio had the ball touched away from him by Parke, but the Union man laid the ball at the foot of the arriving Felipe. Just as quickly though, Williams arrived, sliding in to clear the danger before Felipe could get in alone on MacMath.

This time, the Union took their chance to counterattack, as they drove the ball forward. Collecting the ball high in midfield, McInerney strode forward before unleashing a venomous blast that Perkins could only beat to the ground. Le Toux arrived quickest the quickest to the ball but he was unable to bury his shot before Camara slid in to block the goal-bound effort.

As the momentum swung back and forth, Montreal nearly opened the scoring five minutes later through DiVaio. The Italian stole in behind Williams from the Union’s right flank, but with Felipe hesitating before playing him in, Di Vaio’s confident finish was for naught as the assistant referee correctly raised his flag.

With neither side asserting consistent control in the center of the pitch, the match grew disjointed. And with both sides adding speed by way of Antoine Hoppenot for Philadelphia and Sainey Nyassi for Montreal, the  middle third became stretched.

Exploiting the space to stretch his legs, Fabinho burst up the left flank and hooked in a lethal cross. McInerney had the simplest of headed finishes to nod it home, but the out of form striker was unable to apply the decisive touch.

That missed chance would be the last serious opportunity created with the sides sharing the spoils on the night, and Montreal far happier to do so. The Union have scored only once in their last 285 minutes of play.

“I thought we created some really good chances in the first half and the second half,” Hackworth said. “The hardest thing to do in this sport is to score a goal. As long as we’re creating [good chances], then I know they’re going to come. We did that in both halves.”

The Union are on the road next Sunday when they face the San Jose Earthquakes (11 pm, ESPN2)

Philadelphia Union
Zac MacMath; Ray Gaddis, Sheanon Williams, Jeff Parke, Fabinho; Sebastien Le Toux, Brian Carroll, Keon Daniel, Danny Cruz (Antoine Hoppenot ’73) ; Jack McInerney (Kleberson ’80), Conor Casey (Aaron Wheeler ’86)
Unused substitutes: Oka Nikolov, Michael Lahoud, Michael Farfan, Leo Fernandes

Montreal Impact
Troy Perkins; Hassoun Camara, Matteo Ferrari, Alessandro Nesta, Jeb Brovsky; Justin Mapp, Hernan Bernardello (Collen Warner ’85), Patrice Bernier, Andres Romero (Sanna Nyassi ’56);  Felipe Martins (Davy Arnaud ‘78), Marco Di Vaio
Unused substitutes: Andrea Pisanu, Daniele Paponi, Evan Bush, Adrian Lopez

Scoring Summary

Discipline Summary

Referee: Edvin Jurisevic
Attendance: 18339

Philadelphia Union Montreal Impact
12 Attempts on Goal 4
4 Shots on Target 1
6 Shots off Target 2
2 Blocked Shots 1
6 Corner Kicks 1
8 Fouls 8
21 Open Play Crosses 3
1 Offsides 4
0 First Yellow Cards 0
0 Second Yellow Cards 0
0 Red Cards 0
35 Duels Won 34
50% Duels Won % 49%
370 Total Pass 531
82% Passing Accuracy % 84%
42.7% Possession 57.3%



  1. This is the MLS! Parity! Competition! The Playoff Chas-ZzZzZzZzZzZzZzZzZzZzZzZzZzZzZzZzZzZzZzZzZzZzZzZzZ

  2. Well, I expected us to get trounced. So theres that.

  3. That was awesome!

    Best part- the moment when it finally dawned on Hack that he had a chance to take the win but his tactics and go for the draw road lineup didn’t play positive forward-passing soccer. Which meant…Jose “The Answer” Kleberson. Mr “He’s not ready to play but when he is he will though he makes the 18”, that guy. Pride and a lack of game clock prevented the sub from happening with time to imPact the match, but the lost Brazilian seemed determined to do what Keon couldn’t, go forward.
    My kingdom for the return of Veljko Paunovic…

  4. There were some very good individual performances, especially along the back line. However, it’s not a coincidence that since our set piece deliveries have gone bad, we’ve stopped scoring. Absent a mistake by the other side, we just can’t break a team down. It’s been a problem that we’ve been collectively harping on all year and now it’s coming back to haunt us at the worst possible time.

  5. I said it on Twitter and I will say it here, when you have an opponent playing as poorly as Montreal did last night, you must punish them. Draws will not help the Union come the end of October.

    What I saw last night was a Union side that showed a bit too much respect to Montreal.

  6. John Hackworth took my sharpie! No, really!
    When we checked in at the Jr. Supporter’s Table before the match, they asked my daughter if she would want to go on the field after the match to get player autographs. Duh! Is grass green? Does Danny Cruz fall down more than should be possible? Does Justin Mapp have only one foot? Of course she wanted to do that!
    We had to check in at the 75th minute, then we got to watch the remainder of the game from field level, right in front of the Sons of Ben section. We got there just as Kleberson came on. (Side note: I expected a lot more noise from the Sons of Ben. It was actually disappointing.)
    Once the match ended, they lined up the kids along the boards so they could get autographs. While most players started at the end of the line and worked their way toward the locker room, Hackworth started with my daughter – right in the middle. After signing her jersey, he walked away with my sharpie! Damn it! That cost me, like, $2!
    The players who came through – Casey, Fernandes, Farfan, Hoppenot, Le Toux, MacMath, Wiliams – were so great with the kids. They signed, they posed for pictures, and generally seemed to annoy the handlers by being so giving of their time.
    One particular story: Le Toux was about halfway through the line, at the kid right before us. One of the handlers came over and said, “I hate to pull you away, but you have that interview scheduled.” Seba looked up at the handler, smiled, and said, “OK, I’ll be there just as soon as I’m done here.” Or, in other words, screw the interview! I’m not going to strand all these kids.
    Thanks, Jr. Supporter’s Group, for giving my daughter yet another awesome experience!
    As for the game… I know they’re whipping posts around here, but I thought Cruz and Daniel both played well. I’d still rather see Kleberson in Daniel’s spot, but he did do better, I thought, this week. He was active, he was more up and down, he was involved defensively. And if Cruz had anything resembling a first touch he would’ve had even more chances.
    Perkins made a great save, but Le Toux has to bury that shot. That was the game right there.

  7. Just focusing on our two favorite whipping boys, I thought Danny Cruz looked very good for most of the time he played yesterday. He was a major force on offense and I even saw him come back on defense. Keon, on the other hand, continues to disappoint. There were several times he just flat out did not hustle for balls that should have been his. At one point during the game my wife said that every time she sees Fabhino she is more and more impressed. A minute later she said that every time she sees Keon she is less and less impressed.

    • Cruz had one of the most active games I’ve seen from him. 35 passes attempted, if I recall correctly.

      • Also, Cruz had one of his most tactically astute performances. He was disciplined in defense and didn’t needlessly chase the ball along the backline. He was clearly told to make sure to not leave Gaddis or Fabinho out to dry defensively.

  8. Southside Johnny says:

    This was a game I can live with. This time they looked like a decent soccer team with a lot of heart. The defense was pretty damn good all night with moments of sheer beauty. Much better team defending with poise and some great tackles and takeaways. The attack was much better overall but just couldn’t finish. The poor corners hurt a lot, but there were some other good chances. All the starters had at least a decent game and there were at least moments of really good performance from all. I’m back to wanting this exact back line with Amobi in at Dmid. It didn’t all come together, but last week it all came apart.

  9. Shocker, Gaddis looked good on his preferred side(sarcasm). If only we could stretch Shannon a few inches I would love this back line. The guys played much better than last week (low bar but still much better) the longer this season goes by the more annoyed I am with the fact that our midfield is a mess and Hackworths tactics seem way to conservative to me. Why wait that long to make subs, and they seemed to conservative like he said “hey a points not bad, so lets make some subs but not any that will cost us” which isn’t always a bad thing, but when you are in a playoff hunt at home with only 7 games left in the season, I feel like you have to risk it and go for it.

  10. All I have to say is I wish we would have kept Justin Mapp. The Union management are sometimes horrible at keeping great players and getting rid of bad ones….I could never understand why they let Mapp go.

    • To be fair while he was here the fanbase would trash one footed Justin Mapp whenever they got tired of trashing Stefani Miglioranzi.

  11. Impotent, is the only way to describe this team. At this point I don’t think Hackworth should be managing next season regardless of whether or not they reach the playoffs. With that said I don’t really trust the front office to bring in a good coach. With their track record they will probably get someone worse. Although, I don’t expect them to get rid of Hackworth.

  12. Phillyhotspur says:

    0 0 game. Not good enough. Sorry

    Hack tactics are not up to par n a legitimate coach is needed.

    • I’m OK with tying Montreal, as long as the win in SJ this coming weekend. Four points from the two games is good enough, in my opinion. Of course, if 4 is the target, they *have* to go after it out in SJ; a tie there won’t be good enough now.

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