Union match reports

Match report: Montreal Impact 2-1 Philadelphia Union

Both teams were missing players, but only Montreal Impact took their chances, notching a 2-1 over Philadelphia Union Wednesday night at Stade Saputo in Montreal, Canada. The Union created chances in the first half but were unable to execute in the final third in an important mid-summer Eastern Conference battle.

Alejandro Bedoya was missing on family leave, and Derrick Jones was out with a concussion, so Warren Creavalle started alongside Haris Medunjanin in midfield behind Roland Alberg. Ilsinho slid out to the right wing and John McCarthy continued in goal ,with Andre Blake representing Jamaica at the Gold Cup. Montreal was missing injured star Ignacio Piatti.

Early on, the Union were immediately content to sit back, cede possession, and pounce on Montreal errors. The strategy nearly paid off when Fafa Picault captured an errant dribble by Laurent Ciman. However, the Union winger failed to find the goal or a streaking Ilsinho.

Philly’s inability to capitalize on counterattacking chances continued throughout the first half. Despite gifting Montreal nearly 70% of possession, the visitors were dangerous — but ultimately impotent — around the box.

The lack of finishing finally bit Philly when a simple Montreal cross into the box found a wide-open Michael Salazar. Union center back Oguchi Onyewu was nowhere to be found as the striker opened the scoring in the 20th minute.

The Union responded just before half when a horribly egregious back-pass from Chris Duvall was anticipated and stolen by Fafa Picault. The speedy wingman deftly took a touch and slid the ball past Evan Bush to tie the match.

Much like in the opening frame, the Union looked to sit back and wait for turnovers, but the Impact promptly took the lead in the 51st minute. Recent signee Blerim Dzemaili accidentally juked Jack Elliott and Giliano Wijnaldum – who gave the midfielder way too much space – to set himself up for a picturesque goal.

The Union halfheartedly came back into the game but failed to find a much-needed equalizer due to sloppiness in the final third. At the tip of the midfield, Roland Alberg saw too few touches, Ilsinho gave too many away, and there was no one to help C.J. Sapong’s once-again tremendous hold-up play. Whether it was errant passes in the box, muffed shots, or the inability to organically build play, the Union’s attack could not atone for the defense’s errors.

Late in the match, Roland Alberg nearly tied things up with a ferocious volley off a sumptuous scoop pass from Marcus Epps. The assistant referee flagged the Dutchman offside, however, and the Union were left with nothing but a loss to begin a busy two-week stretch.

Philadelphia next plays on Saturday at 6:30 p.m. in Columbus against the Crew.

Three points
  • Mental defense: Both Montreal goals were the result of easily preventable mental lapses. But with over 60 percent of possession coming back at the defense, cracks in the foundation were inevitable.
  • Where’s Haris and the 10?: Haris Medunjanin was oddly absent from this game. With little support around him, the Bosnian playmaker was unable to find the creative, line-breaking passes that have defined his Union tenure. This may be more of an indictment of the lack of support provided by Roland Alberg at the CAM spot and Ilsinho on the right wing in place of Chris Pontius.
  • Rookie spotlights: The introduction of Marcus Epps and Adam Najem into the game saw a definite shift in how the Union dictated play. Their aggressive and heady approach – a far cry from the lackadaisical air of Alberg and Ilsinho – should earn them more minutes in the near future.

Philadelphia: John McCarthy, Raymon Gaddis, Jack Elliott, Oguchi Onyewu, Giliano Wijnaldum, Warren Creavalle (Adam Najem – 79′), Haris Medunjanin, Ilsinho (Marcus Epps – 57′), Roland Alberg, Fabrice Picault (Jay Simpson – 67′), C.J. Sapong

Montreal: Evan Bush, Chris Duvall, Laurent Ciman, Kyle Fisher, Daniel Lovitz, Louis Beland-Goyette (Marco Donadel – 74′), Hernan Bernardello, Michael Salazar (Dominic Oduro – 64′), Blerim Dzemaili, Balloui Jean-Yves Tabla, Matteo Mancosu

Scoring summary

MTL: Salazar (Duvall) — 19’
PHI: Picault 43′
MTL: Dzemali (Salazar) 51′

Misconduct summary

PHI: Alberg — 29′
MTL: Beland-Goyette — 32′
PHI: Gaddis — 45′
PHI: Jack Elliott — 76′
MTL: Hernan Bernadello — 90+
PHI: Onyweu — 90+


Montreal Impact                    Philadelphia Union

9 Shots 10
4 Shots on Target 2
4 Shots off Target 6
1 Blocked Shots 2
4 Corners 2
10 Crosses 10
2 Offsides 2
19 Fouls 13
2 Yellow Cards 4
0 Red Cards 0
395 Total Passes 313
76 % Passing Accuracy 70 %
55.5 % Possession 44.5 %
63 Duels Won 56
21 Tackles Won 12
1 Saves 2
19 Clearances 10


  1. I’m so over this team.

  2. Andy Muenz says:

    Pathetic display of football.

  3. Ilsinho was so awful in the first half, it looked like we were playing with ten. No us open cup to lean on now. What will they do?

  4. el Pachyderm says:

    Another 2 week break, the fourth to be sure, followed by total unwatchable soccer. A buddy of mine who knows nothing about the game turned and said, what are they trying to do?
    There was a point in the 59th min that totally and succinctly defines this team… Marcus Epps shakes and manages to turn on a defender in the deep right channel just outside the box only to see five Union players standing there EACH ONE of them stone footed in fuvking cement,
    Nobody moving towards him, nobody dragging a defender on a darting acute angled run to create space for another player to move into, just waiting and watching unforgivabley for him to lump a despicable cross into the box.
    Am I too hard? No. Not at all. What is most amusing to me is the seriousness of questions posed in line about whether this is a good team. They’re terrible. Fact.

    • John P O'Donnell Jr. says:

      This summed up the game for me. Jack Mac would be scoring on this team playing with Epps. Nobody moves to take a pass and I remember Curtin complaining about it the last game to start the half expressing to the sideline reporter that they had to continue to make runs into the box. Right on cue, Ilsinho scored to start the half as he made the run.

  5. el Pachyderm says:

    In other news can we please play the kids….PLEASE x10*6.
    Oh and Roland Alberg is 3x the striker CJ could ever hope to be. Consistently week in week out plays the position with more chance to score- cause wait for it- that’s the best attribute a striker can have. Lethal finishing, not hold up play, drawing fouls or heading punted balls.
    Not one more word from me again this week.

    • Simpson too. That turn and run and shoot he had right after he came on was beautiful. THATS what I want my striker to look like.

      • Simpson sucks. Should be 3rd string. Had a lane to shoot but put the way over the net. Free shot and ruined it. He’s our big striker signing ? Fuck that. I blame Albright. The dude went downhill in England, this type of inconsistency is probably why. The staff should be more careful about who they pick up and really think about a players full career before signing them if they do not do that already. Simpson is is staring to become a wasted attribute.

      • I agree he is not the striker savior we needed, but good god he does not suck.

        I swear 90% of the hate over Simpson is simply that he isn’t the 3 million super star DP we wanted or needed.

  6. Buccistick says:

    Pity we failed to capitalize on one of Ciman’s rare stinkers.
    Steven, thank you for highlighting the play of Epps and Najem. Each showed feet and thinking quick enough to unlock opposition defenses. They deserve more time on pitch than on pine, particularly Epps with Pontius away on CONCACAF duty and Ilsinho firing blanks from the flank.
    … and with our 2017 certain to end October 22nd.
    But shake off the knock soon, Fafa.

  7. I can’t even get upset anymore. That was pathetic against a B squad Montreal team. Jimmy boy will keep riding out CJ no matter how terrible he is. Is that 10 MLS matches in a row without a goal in the run of play for him? I’ll enjoy the last 7 home matches of the season that I’ll be attending and the. hope for some major shakeups in the offseason.

  8. Old Soccer Coach says:

    Dzemali’s “pass to himself” included a slight deflection off a defender which contributed to the surprise /lack of anticipation on the play.
    Once on, Jay Simpson created two decent scoring opportunities for himself.
    We have all known in our hearts that October 22 is when 2017 ends, and have known it for some time.
    They tried to counterpressure Montreal at times but without the high restraining line to compact space, so if Montreal could complete the first pass, Montreal was away easily.
    Perhaps the most telling commentary of the night — and I cannot remember which of them said it — was that Medunjanin has played every minute this season save three. He is 32 years old and came to our preseason from the Israeli league’s mid season. He is exhausted.
    El pachyderm’s point about how they perform out of a break is a good one. They did not look refreshed.
    I am finding that my emotional interest is shifting to the Steel, because they are writing a better story. I will keep following the Union because that’s where the young kids are going to end up. But as someone here wrote sometime ago, the 2017 first team exists to be easily dismantled when the kids are ready.
    Last thought for now, the union want to grow their own number 10, not find him elsewhere.

    • Your last comment is spot on. In 2018 I hope the Union go with Najem & Fontana at the 10 and spend all that extra money you have after getting rid of Ilsinho, Alberg, Pontius & Edu on a real striker.

  9. Sugarman is cheap. That’s the Zeitgeist of the organization.
    (If he won’t spend his money, should you spend yours?)

  10. OtherIanFleming says:

    Alright folks, I’ve been having a particularly stressful week, and perhaps that affected me last night where my mind just wasn’t in it, but…was that the most boring game of soccer anyone has ever seen?

    • Buccistick says:

      “Boring”? The shambolic back passing of Montreal’s defenders provided drama aplenty.
      “Only in MLS …”

  11. I really try to not just make generalized negative comments like “so-n-so is terrible” or “player x sucks” or anything like that because these are professional players for a reason and I want to respect the amount of effort and work that went into their career. That said, Ilsinho was horrible last night.
    Wijnaldum needs to close players down better. To me, he is a contributing factor to both goals. And this was an issue in another of his starts. Hopefully it gets corrected quickly in the film room this week.
    Fafa should have passed. Even Alberg (who we all have seen demonstrate outwardly when feeling he should get the pass), was livid that Fafa didn’t pass to Ilsinho.
    Another game that had me wondering how many fouls Ciman has to make to be considered “persistent infringement”? None were as severe as when the teams first met but I feel like every time I see an Impact game that he has at least 5 fouls.

  12. Montreal played the worst defense I’ve seen any club play this year in any mls match, and we generated two shots on goal. Really inexcusable. Good point about CJ. We all know Curtain wont sit him even with four games in twelve days.

  13. The good news is that Bedoya had successfully replaced Nogs!
    The bad news is that just like Nogs we are kinda useless without him.

  14. Basically yelling at the tv almost the whole game ……. sometimes I do not understand Curtin’s strategy ! Alberg is not a number 10. He doesn’t move like a #10 should. What they need to do is develop him as a striker. His striking ability is probably the best on the team. He has the foot work to become a well rounded striker. Make him a sub for critical moments when we need goals. Place him up top with sapong , wait for it , and play a 4-4-2. Ilsinho needs to be in the middle at all times. No exceptions ever. He cannot play the wing. He doesn’t have the legs for it. The number 10 is perfect for him, as we’ve seen. Short sprinting bursts and only having to beat 1 or 2 Defenders when sometimes he can beat more, this is why he’s excelling at the position. I’d fire Curtin today since it’s scary that he can’t see that ilsinho is our closest #10 to Barnetta and that Alberg should be a striker only ! On another note, where is Derrick Jones and Yaro !!!??? Should have been in the line up starting. Defense was horrible.

  15. That really was a bad game all around. To me the Union just look tired. From CJ to Ilson Jr., to Fafa and Haris. Has Jim rotated the squad? Yes, but not often enough. Players need rest, no matter what their number say. The mind gets tired, not just the body. Mistakes are made. This team and coach are just what they’ve been all along.
    This last “hardest schedule left in MLS” is going to show the real truth of the situation. While other teams are getting hot for the playoff run, will the Union flail, and fade as in years past or just sneak into the playoffs again? I’m betting same old Union. Paging Mr Stewart and a #10 please.

  16. Zizouisgod says:

    “[Insert player name in starting XI] sucks, [insert name of player on bench] should see more time, he’s way better. Curtin is a terrible manager, Stewart and Albright don’t know what they’re doing.”

    I used to enjoy reading the PSP comments for the insights of others who follow the team as closely as me. I always figured that I might read something that was intelligent and thoughtful rather than just types of rants that I can read everywhere else. Luckily, there still are a few people who fit in that insightful category, but honestly, there seems to be fewer of them here every day.

    • I’m guessing many of those insightful posters might be burnt out. I can’t blame them. It’s difficult to watch this team. This organization’s collective failing has no end in sight.

      • Zizouisgod says:

        Very true, lopezzzz.

      • el Pachyderm says:

        So then you retract said statement Zizouisgod? Cause I rant like an M’Fer which is exactly what is warranted unfortunately almost week in week out. I leave insightful commentary to better minds.
        I appreciate it sir you actually were able to pull me back in this week. Well done. Otherwise…

      • Zizouisgod says:

        Retract? Agreeing with lopezzzz doesn’t contradict what I had written.

        FWIW – you’re in your own category, Pachy 😉

    • It’s getting harder to be reasonable when you just continue to see the same thing with the same results every week, but I think you’re point should be well taken. Expressing exasperation is certainly understandable, but we should all be able to do it with more than just frothy nonsense.

      I’ve actually had a hard time posting a lot the last few weeks, because I feel I don’t know what to say about this group that hasn’t already been said. It feels like the team’s shortcomings are well understood but the organization’s plans to address those shortcomings are a complete mystery. Did they want to sign a South American #10? Did they have the money to do so? Do they care? I don’t know. I’m really at a loss.

      Also, I don’t think any individuals on this team “suck.” I think the system just doesn’t work and that Curtin is unwilling or unable to find a way to make the squad he has work better. Even typing that feels like a waste of energy, because almost all of us have been saying the same for at least two years and nothing has changed.

      • Zizouisgod says:

        Agreed, Pete. I’m with you on all of those points. I’ve posted less for the same reasons.

      • Thank you Pete and Lopezzzz.
        Zizouisgod, it really is tiring hashing over the same old stuff. It’s like beating your head against a wall knowing nothing is going to change. How many times must we watch the same things repeated? It’s like water torture. Please give me something exciting and good to talk about.
        Maybe OSC is right, and joy should be found with BSFC. Early on I felt my joy this season would come from watching D. Jones grow since the Union didn’t show much promise. Maybe BSFC is the answer.

    • Here’s the problem Zizouisgod. It’s been garbage in garbage out for too long. What positive can you take from that game last night? There should be none. We lost to a team that without Piatta, Bernier, Jackson-Hammel, Oyongo and Oduro/Donadel came off the bench. That was such a lifeless performance and it’s not the first time nor will it be the last one this season. We have to be one of the lowest possession % teams in the league along with one of the bottom passing accuracy teams. This team hasn’t beaten a good team yet this season and it might not by season’s end. If Curtin is a young up and coming manager like we hope he could be then maybe, just maybe he would switch up his tactics once in a while. That has not been the case. I’m not here to say that Najem, Jones, Epps are better than what we have. I’m not saying they are worse either but this team isn’t going to the playoffs so please get these 3 a lot of PT so they can develop and hopefully become full time starters in the near future.

      • Zizouisgod says:

        Jason – Please don’t confuse the message that I was trying to convey. I’m not looking for people to only be positive about the Union. I recognize how bad the team is. I just think that posting that a player “s*cks” is an utter waste of time, but that’s just me.

    • Adam Schorr says:

      What insights do you want? Insights come from taking a look at the little things. But we can’t delve into the little things – the big things are so, so wrong that the little things just don’t matter. Stewart has talked about a plan, but none of his moves really evidence one. Curtin has talked about the importance of consistency in formation, but the formation is clearly a bad fit for the personnel, and the personnel who fit the formation a little better aren’t getting opportunities in favor of older guys who won’t even be here next year.
      I’d love to give better insights than “this team is poorly run and poorly coached”, but until those issues are fixed, everything else is frankly irrelevant.

      • Well, Adam’s comment pretty much sums it up for me. When the movement, possession, and passing are this bad, I’m not sure there is much else to dissect and analyze.

        Outside of the potential of our youth, the only positive I see is Alberg looks like he could turn out to be a very serviceable striker. If we decide to play him there.

      • Zizouisgod says:

        The little things always matter. If even your organization has big structural issues, you can always focus on incremental improvements without having to tackle the big things. Sure, it makes things a lot easier to do if you can correct the larger issues first, but that sometimes isn’t feasible.

      • Fair enough Zizou. But that’s where the coach comes in right? Getting a little bit more out of the current squad? And they have stated we aren’t going to tweak formations, shown they won’t sit a player down when they need a break or are under-performing. So what’s the answer? In what do we base the optimism?

      • Zizouisgod says:

        eggman – I agree that Curtin doesn’t appear to be doing those things with this team. I had hopes that he could be a good manager and tried to be patient with him as he learned on the job. Unfortunately, it’s been a slog.

        To be fair to him, he’s been willing to make some tweaks around the margin to help the club short-term (e.g. – moving Pontius to the right to get Picault on the left, adjusting their defensive tactics to account for the shortcomings of Medujanin and Gooch, etc.), but that has only translated to a team in the bottom third of MLS.

  17. Curtin is a broken record. What I wanna know is how does this team practice and prepare? At a snails pace? The ball movement and control is atrocious for a pro team. I’m done with hoping Ilsinho will break through consistently and score. He is a turnover machine. He plays with tunnel vision. He goes 1 vs 2,3,4 players and kills scoring chances way too much. He’s been around long enough to know better so I don’t think he’s capable of changing. Epps should get more starts. Alberg can score goals however, he is too slow and can not drive the play as a starting #10. The one position that this team needs to have a DP is at the #10. Alberg and Ilsinho aren’t it.

  18. Just another winnable game that the Union pissed away. Montreal sucked and instead of just not sucking we were worse. How many point blank chances do you need to score… the answer is apparently three… since I believe it was the third F UP by Montreal where Fafa finally scored. The level of frustration with this team is completely unrivaled. Wow

  19. Atomic Spartan says:

    Calling all kids, please.
    I’ve said this before, the attack is too slow. First principle of attack is surprise. Wall passes, combination play, cutbacks, first time shooting, speed. Surprise. Fafa yes, but then what or who? “Let’s all watch Fafa run and maybe he’ll finish on a breakaway” isn’t good strategy, it isn’t even a good tactic more than twice a game. The hammie was inevitable.
    Ilson, I luv ya, but nobody’s being surprised by stopntrick, it just gives defenders time to double or triple cover ya. Better to move,trick,pass, but is your mind open enough to change? No? Thought so.
    Who’s making themselves available to receive the pass? Where is the movement? The 2 or 3 players at a time who look like they’re on the same page? I think it was second half, throwin was delayed because nobody was open. Unacceptable.
    Union till I die, but this is what makes you scream at the TV: if you saw your youth team making these kinds of fundamental mistakes, you’d be tempted to scream at them. Or work it out in practice. Or play your bench and give the first squad an opportunity to watch and learn.
    Ya listening JC? No? Thought so.

    • Gotta find time for Yaro and Rosenberry. Even if it’s minutes at BSFC. Rosenberry’s case is particularly alarming. It’s clear he’s taken a step back, even from his limited minutes. What’s Curtin’s approach? Bury him on the bench? This is the same kid he started every minute last year.


      I’d like to think the Union will move to a younger lineup once the playoffs are out of reach, but I know Jim Curtin too well. We’ll see Gooch and Gaddis starting into October.

  20. I know they are more focused on building the academy and building a culture than winning now. They basically said so during town halls with season ticket holders. Problem is, if they finish 7-10th place year after year, there won’t be a fan base left. Win some f’ing games!

    • Agreed. It’s hard for fans to “trust the process” when the team shows little improvement from one year to the next, and the coaching staff provides little evidence that they are capable of developing young players and building a competitive squad for the future.

    • Union act as if building a good academy (which many teams already have) and winning now are mutually exclusive goals.


      And isn’t the academy a Richie Graham thing?

      • True. As appreciative I was of Ernie and Jim taking their time to explain their long term goals, I don’t think they know how incredibly empty Talen will be from September 1st on.

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