Union match reports

Recap: Montreal Impact 0–1 Philadelphia Union

Photo: Paul Rudderow

In what was a rather dull game eventually enlivened by long-awaited substitutes, Philadelphia Union earned their first-ever win in Montreal, 1–0. Sebastien Le Toux scored for the fourth time in five league games (fifth in six including the US Open Cup semifinal) after good work from CJ Sapong and substitute Eric Ayuk, and the Union spoiled the MLS debut of Didier Drogba, pulling themselves within a point of the sixth place Impact in the conference standings.

First half

In a dull first 45, neither team showed much attacking threat. The Union’s only change from the last game was a start for Andre Blake in goal, his first of 2015. For Montreal, Drogba started on the bench and Laurent Ciman returned from vacation to captain the side. Philadelphia started nervously, with some poor giveaways. Michael Lahoud passed straight to Dominic Oduro in the 4th minute, but Oduro could only shoot wide.

In the 10th minute, Chaco Maidana and Tranquillo Barnetta combined to get into the Montreal box, but Barnetta and Sapong crossed wires and couldn’t connect for a shot on goal. In the 16th, a Maidana-led break ended with Sapong on the ball on the left of the Impact box. His high cross found Barnetta, but the Swiss’s volley was blocked for a corner.

Montreal dominated possession but did so tamely, passing around the back and rarely penetrating. What threat they had came down the flank, but their crosses rarely produced clear looks at goal. In the 23rd, a Union turnover gave Montreal a counterattack opportunity, but when the shot came, Blake scooped it up easily for his first save of the game. In the 28th minute, Johan Venegas ghosted in front of Richie Marquez for a header, but sent it wide. In the 38th, Blake did well to come out strong and claim a high cross outside the six yard box.

The last few minutes of the half saw a couple of promising Union counters founder without getting close to goal, while Montreal had a series of free kicks from distance that failed to bother Blake, and the teams entered the half scoreless.

Second half

With no changes from either side, the second half started like the first, but with both teams sloppy in possession. That sloppiness nearly cost Montreal in the 50th minute, when Sapong picked off a pass from Wandrille Lefevre and was in on goal with just Ciman to beat. Unfortunately, the Belgian slowed Sapong enough that help arrived and the chance faded away.

In the 56th minute, with Drogba readying to come on, the Union had a free kick on the left. Barnetta’s ball was into a dangerous area but headed away. He recovered it and skinned a defender to get into the box on the left endline. His cross into the six was met by Sapong under pressure, and Sapong’s flick passed just wide of the far post.

Drogba entered the match in the 59th minute to a loud ovation from the Montreal supporters, but the Union would threaten next. Barnetta and Maidana combined well again on the left, with Chaco putting in a tasty cross to the back post for Le Toux. His volley was low and on target, but Montreal’s keeper, Evan Bush, did well to make the save.

In the 66th, Vincent Nogueira made his return from injury, replacing Lahoud. Shortly after, Justin Mapp, former Union player and out since the first game of the season, also made an appearance, making him the youngest player in MLS to play 300 games.

As the game ticked into the final 20 minutes, chances became more frequent for both sides. Drogba had a gravity well around him, drawing close attention from Union defenders, and falling to ground at every opportunity. Though, to be fair, Fabinho looked intent on kicking him whenever possible.

The Union would take the lead in the 78th. Sapong, who had a strong night in his hold-up play, tracked down a ball near the right endline and sent in a looping cross back across the box. Eric Ayuk, on as a substitute for Barnetta only three minutes before, made enough contact with the ball at hip height to send it toward the back post. Slipping inside of Wandrille Lefevre, Le Toux got enough of a touch to put it past Bush, scoring his fourth goal in five games.

Montreal had no offensive plan aside from “Find Drogba and earn free kicks,” which they did regularly but to little effect. In the 86th minute, the Union had a wonderful spell of simple possession as they worked to kill the clock. Ayuk, in particular, was notable for how composed he was on the ball, never trying to do too much. He also nearly got on the scoresheet when a Union free kick bounced for him in the Montreal box, but his overhead kick sailed wide.

But Montreal would finally threaten in the 89th minute when another Fabinho-on-Drogba foul earned a dangerous free kick just outside the Union box. Drogba took the kick, his shot rooting Blake to the ground, but the ball missed the upper ninety by a foot.

As the game ticked into the third minute of extra time, the Union looked like they might finally hold a lead, but Mapp found the ball at his feet 25 yards out. With the defense closing in, he cut back onto his (much weaker) right foot, and laced a shot at goal. But Blake was there and saved it comfortably, allowing no rebound.

And just like that, the Union had their second road win of the year, breaking a five-game winless streak, and earning their second straight road shutout.

They’ll look to build on the win when they host New England Revolution on Saturday, August 29.

Philadelphia Union
Andre Blake, Fabinho, Richie Marquez, Steven Vitoria, Ray Gaddis, Brian Carroll, Michael Lahoud (Vincent Nogueira, 66), Tranquillo Barnetta (Eric Ayuk, 75), Cristian Maidana, Sebastien Le Toux, CJ Sapong
Unused Substitutes: John McCarthy, Ethan White, Warren Creavalle, Fernando Aristeguieta, Conor Casey

Montreal Impact
Evan Bush, Donny Toia, Laurent Ciman, Wandrille Lefevre, Ambroise Oyongo, Marco Donadel, Calum Mallace (Anthony Jackson-Hamel, 81), Dilly Duka (Didier Drogba, 59), Johan Venegas, Andrés Romero (Justin Mapp, 69), Dominic Oduro
Unused Substitutes: Eric Kronberg, Victor Cabrera, Kyle Bekker, Nigel Reo-Coker,

Scoring Summary
PHI — Sebastien Le Toux (Erik Ayuk, CJ Sapong) — 78

Disciplinary Summary
MTL — Marco Donadel (Unsporting Behaviour) — 25
PHI — Fabinho (Unsporting Behavior — 73
MTL — Dominic Oduro (Dissent) — 90 + 2

Philadelphia Union Montreal Impact
 7 Shots  16
 2 Shots on Target  4
 3 Shots off Target  10
 2 Blocked Shots  2
 4 Corner Kicks  8
 15 Crosses  28
 0 Offsides  0
 14 Fouls  11
 1 Yellow Cards  2
 0 Red Cards  0
 285 Total Passes  516
 69% Passing Accuracy  85%
 35.5% Possession  64.5%
 45 Duels Won  44
 50.6% Duels Won %  49.4%
 15 Tackles Won  11
 4 Saves  1
 21 Clearances  17

37 Comments

  1. Nice win. But you could see the whole team tense up for the last few minutes; glad they held on.
    .
    And that Drogba free kick that froze Blake andbarely missed the top corner? The ref set the wall at eight yards away, tops. If the wall were in the proper place, that ball goes in.

  2. el pachyderm says:

    So….
    .
    …..right then. The kid looked good in gol. As expected, at least by many if us around here.
    .
    Yes yes one game…I get it… the dude is a freak though and assuming he has some kind of ability to process information from live game action (thanks for that finally…jeeze how much does a fanbase have to clamor it’s not like Shem Messing is our goalie) and turn it in to better practice sessions (?) can we continue to see him for remainder of the season- even if we keep winning… methinks this is really important for his develoment.
    .
    But foremost in my mind after that game, trumping even the sighting of an elusive Pip-Squack and that certain green clad 22 year old goalie, I would just like to say…
    .
    …the all white kit is BOSS. Boss. Can we put pressure on the front office, fly a banner over the stadium, something, have a poll, something… to make this the official home kit. It is regal. It is clean. It is exactly the kit this team should be wearing 20 times or so a season.
    .
    I get it…the Blue and Gold have Revolutionary meaning but so does the white…
    .
    …it means Los Merengues Americanos. Come on. Those Uniforms are sick. Hey SoB…let’s rethink it.
    .
    Oh and even I thought Drogba was a bit ridiculous tonight and I’m all for diving. And that free kick would have sucked had it gone in.

  3. Union take 3 points to spoil the MLS debut of a soccer legend?

    That’s So Union.

    (el p, the royalty check is in the mail)

  4. OneManWolfpack says:

    Hahaha… this F’N team… It’s possible to hate and love them all at the same time. Screw it… I’m in for the rest of the year. Win the Cup… make the playoffs… Why the hell not?!? Go Union!!
    .
    PS – that was a poorly played game by all and Drogba was a big whiner. Go U!

  5. Blake was good. Le Toux played pretty well. It’s interesting to watch the team win despite all those poor passes from Chaco and Lahoud. Montréal looked pretty crappy in attack.
    You saw good hold up play from CJ, I saw iron touches one after another. I know he sometimes makes poor decisions but I need more Ayuk.

    • Jim Presti says:

      Montreal had zero ideas other than “Let’s see if Ciman can play a decent pass to Oduro/Drogba in the corner or see if he can dribble up the gut harmlessly.”

      • Agree 100%. To my eye (I just don’t have time to watch non-Union MLS matches), Ciman looked like a good player who had been given just that assignment: defend, and attack when you can. The harmlessness came from the lack of support from his teammates, other than Oduro and Drogba. I actually found myself thinking (daydreaming perhaps – it was obviously not a very compelling match) about Franz Beckenbauer for a few moments.

      • That’s would be pre Cosmos Franz.
        .
        Any chance I can to name drop my first sweetheart.
        .
        Please forgive.

  6. It’s nice to finally win one when not playing our best. Definite improvement from Barnetta. He, Chaco and Nogs will look good together and we can finally come out of this 2 DM aimless shell (and maybe Carroll will finally be allowed a rest). Awesome to see Blake play. He was what we all hoped for, now don’t take him back out Jim.
    .
    Good to get the win, Droga was disappointing and whiney.

    • Its nice to finally win one without Nogueira in the starting XI. I always want him out there, but its nice to finally win one without him starting.

      • Also nice to win once against a team that was mostly effective at marking Chaco out of the game. Other scoring options are great to see.

      • Were we watching the same game what other scoring options. They barely squeaked by with the goal their offense was non-existent with Chaco marked up all game.

      • We watched the same game, and I don’t disagree that they ‘barely squeaked by with the goal’. But every other game I recall where Chaco gets bottled up included the phrase “Union 0” in the scoreline and this one didn’t. Baby steps.

  7. Zizouisgod says:

    Just when you think that you’re out, they pull you back in…

    • el pachyderm says:

      If they take 10 of 12 points over this nearest 4 game set and are able to erase 3 of the games in hand collectively (in other words get some help)…. I will entertain the idea of a post season.
      .
      For now..the hand reaching out from under the bed trying to ‘pull me back in’ is getting trounced by my free foot.
      .

  8. For me, when watching this team, it feels like I am rooting for a lucky bounce/shot/play to go our way AND that somehow we capitalize on that lucky bounce/shot/play to win the game. Hoping that the team will possess the ball and break down the opponent and when it happens it is a plus.
    .
    I hope for a day when I am watching this team and it feels like I am rooting for goals from great buildup play and dissecting the other team. Then, occasionally a lucky bounce/shot/play will happen and I will go that was a nice extra.
    .
    (Note – it is possible for more than one lucky bounce/shot/play to occur in a game.)

    • Atomic Spartan says:

      It was not luck that had Sapong find Ayuk. Not luck that Ayuk side winds a volley. Not luck that LeToux is in right place at right time with right stuff. Not luck that Blake and others simply play well. You make what others call “luck” by playing better than your opponent. Belief in fate, luck, chance or magic is a poor substitute for working hard and doing what you are supposed to do when under stress. As poorly executed as the U were last night, their fundamentals, skill, tactics and execution were better than Montreal’s. I’ll take that over luck any day. That and officiating that does not undo a decent effort.

      • You’re right. Clearly the Union are a great team that outplays other teams consistently while leading the points table.

      • The Union have been bad this year, but they earned that goal.

      • Where exactly was it typed that the goal was not earned?
        .
        People seize on one word and make that the focus. The word lucky was perhaps a poor choice, it should have been fortunate.
        .
        Still doesn’t change the sentiment. The team is bad.

  9. Little Fish says:

    I thought Vittoria had a very strong game. He looked really good out there. Dude can pass out of the back and he’s got a bit of a nasty edge. Pricey, but better than White I think. I’ve got to ask though… Is Vittoria that much worse than Mo Edu? Marquez/Vittoria could be very serviceable in the back.

    • Definitely better than White. White should never see the field again this season unless 2 of Edu, Marquez and Victoria are injured.

    • Agreed. I think this was his best game of the year. Still not paying him 400k a year to be here tho. Maybe 200-250k.

    • pragmatist says:

      They are more athletic with Mo back there. He’s able to cover for mistakes, like the ones we saw in the Chicago game. The Mo/Marquez pairing is the best. I like Vitoria, but as a back-up/spot starter. Problem is, that kind of player shouldn’t make more than $150K in this league.

  10. I think the Union were due for a regular season win simply because it has been a month and a half since the last one. Combine this with the fact they they had never won before in Montreal. The “odds” were in their favor.
    .

    That said, I thought Blake looked very good and clearly showed a level of athleticism we just haven’t really seen by a Union Goalie.
    .

    The Marquez Vitoria pairing seems OK and I think when Edu returns I would move him up to play with Carroll or LaHoud which could give us another dimension in the attack since he seems to like to press high.

    .

    Barnetta is a nice addition to the team. Wenger who? In looking at the roster it doesn’t appear bad at all. I hope we can at least finish strong and have something to build on for next season. An Open Cup trophy would be nice as well.

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