Union match reports

Match report: Philadelphia Union 3-0 Montreal Impact

Photo: Paul Rudderow

Union’s third and final goal in Saturday’s match could very well summarize their performance in a match against a Montreal Impact team that had been on the rise in the Eastern Conference since the beginning of the month.

They simply could do no wrong.

Manager Jim Curtin was forced to shuffle his lineup around due to the suspension of defender Auston Trusty and the injury of Marco Fabian, both sustained during last week’s road trip to the City of Angels. Curtin would turn to two of his most experienced players to fill the gaps with Ilsinho sitting next to Cory Burke up top and former MLS defender of the year Aurelien Collin holding down the back line.

The Union opened the match enjoying the bulk of the possession before being gifted a set piece in a dangerous position. A lofted free kick from the sweet left foot of Haris Medunjanin towards the head of a rising Jack Elliott was headed downward into the hands of a unconcerned Montreal goalkeeper, Evan Bush.

The Union’s well deployed high press kept Montreal’s attack at bay as their back line struggled to push the ball past the midway line.

Collin, filling in for the suspended Trusty and injured Mark McKenzie, made his first start for the U and looked as if he had played all season. Poised in possession and strong in the tackle, the Frenchman solidified the backline and allowed Monteiro and Medunjanin to push further up the field in the attack. Montreal continually looked stretched and disoriented despite carrying a streak of three consecutive shutouts into Saturday’s game.

Allowed the room to roam freely, Jamiro Monteiro slipped Cory Burke into acres of space between Montreal’s two central defenders. Two quick touches by the Jamaican put Burke into position to fire a rope of a shot from a few steps outside of the 18 yard box past Evan Bush’s outstretched arms and into his right side netting.

The 14th minute goal capped off a good spell of play from the Union, who were looking as good as they were playing in their baby blue Adidas x Parley “For the Oceans” recycled material jerseys.

As a response to Philadelphia’s first half dominance, Montreal increased their intensity and brought a greater sense of urgency as the game carried on. More aggressive in their challenges and quicker in the attack, Impact began to take the game to their hosts.

A smothered cross by Andre Blake and a shot from distance straight into the chest of Philly’s goalkeeper were both handled with relative ease, but the momentum was shifting.

It was all Montreal for a brief moment of the first half, but there’s an old saying in sports: you can’t coach speed.

With the tides turning in favor of the visitors, Brendan Aaronson took the game into his own hands with a quick turn of pace to skip around two Impact defenders in the box and earn his side a corner kick.

After a threatening set piece looking for the head of Jack Elliott in the opening minutes, Medunjanin once again went for his towering center back, who was taken down by what looked to be a newly invented WWE move.

Following VAR confirmation, first year Union midfielder Jamiro Monteiro stepped up to the penalty spot staring down what would be his first ever MLS goal. One on one with Evan Bush, who just had his shutout streak of 289 minutes come to a screeching halt, the Cape Verdean sent Bush the wrong direction and firmly dispatched the penalty to restore Union’s momentum right before the halftime whistle.

Whatever momentum was taken into the locker room by Philadelphia quickly turned into feelings of concern after watching Andre Blake pull up with a leg injury early in the second half. The Union’s rock in the back and epitome of consistency was forced to make way for homegrown goalkeeper Matt Freese, who had not logged a single first team minute.

It was a roller coaster of emotions around Talen Energy Stadium when just minutes after seeing Blake hobble off of the field, Philadelphia went right back up the other end to increase their advantage.

Montreal was holding their own defensively through the first 10 minutes, forcing Philly to cycle back several times. Union were patient in their buildup, however, and their patience was rewarded greatly.

Haris Medunjanin, sitting comfortably at the top of the box, chipped in a delicious service to the onrushing Kai Wagner who smartly tapped the ball back across an open goal mouth in the direction of Cory Burke who whiffed on his attempt at a brace. Much to the delight of Burke, whose smile could be seen from the press box, his failed attempt fell straight to the feet of captain Alejandro Bedoya who made no mistake with his shot and secured his second goal in as many games at home this month.

The game seemed all but over for Philadelphia with three points in the bag after a disappointing road trip to Los Angeles until the 89th minute when Kai Wagner was sent off after VAR overturned referee Robert Sibiga’s yellow card decision and sent Wagner to the showers to a standing ovation from the Sons of Ben.

Given Philly’s already injured back line and now goalkeeper, it put a damper on what was all in all a thoroughly deserved victory and clean sheet.

The Union return to action next Saturday, as they travel to Canada to take on the struggling Vancouver Whitecaps. Kickoff from B.C. Place is at 5:00 p.m. Eastern.

Lineups 

Philadelphia Union

Andre Blake (Matt Freese); Raymon Gaddis, Jack Elliott, Kai Wagner, Aurelien Collin; Jamiro Monteiro, Brenden Aaronson, Haris Medunjanin, Alejandro Bedoya (C); Ilsinho (Fafa Picault), Cory Burke (Kacper Przybylko)

Unused substitutes: Warren Creavalle, Fabinho, David Accam, Olivier Mbaizo

Montreal Impact

Evan Bush; Jukka Diallo, Bacary Sagna, Daniel Lovitz; Michael Azira, Saphir Taider (Shamit Shome); Maximilano Urruti, Harry Novillo (Mathieu Choinere), Orji Okwonkwo (Clement Bayiha)

Unused substitutes: Clement Diop, Victor Cabrera, Zachary Brault-Guillard, Anthony Jackson-Hamel

Scoring Summary 

PHL- Cory Burke 14′

PHL- Jamiro Monteiro 45′

PHL- Alejandro Bedoya 57′ (Wagner)

Discipline Summary

PHL- Haris Medunjanin 62′ (Yellow)

PHL- Cory Burke 67′ (Yellow)

MTL- Evan Bush 78′ (Yellow)

PHL- Kai Wagner 89′ (Red)

35 Comments

  1. Good win and important bounce back from the trip to LA.
    .
    Curtin again using the flexibility that Tanner allows reverting back to the 4-2-3-1. Pretty good performances from everyone. Wishing both Blake and McKenzie well. No complaints about Wagner’s red but also like his aggressiveness all season long both in defense and getting forward. Will be interesting to see if it is Real or Fabi that fills in for him.

  2. That certainly didn’t look like a whiff from Burke. Seemed like a pass knowing there would be a late runner at the far post.

    • Even if it was, a striker’s mentality should be to put that into the back of the net, not make another pass.

    • OneManWolfpack says:

      Just watched the game on DVR. Seemed like a whiff but Bedoya was there so maybe he yelled out to let it go. Whatever it went in!!! Haha. Finally got some calls and some luck today. Extremely well played overall though. Excellent bounce back

    • It was 100% a whiff. He swung his foot at it. He looked coy and laughing about the miss after. He also was behind the ball so no offside.

  3. From my view behind the goal (for goal #3), it appeared that Burke may have been offside and let the ball through…he didn’t make an attempt to hit the ball at all.

  4. Monte is a great addition to the squad. I am also glad the SoBs gave Wagner some love after his send off.

    • I also liked how they got on Evan Bush after his melt down, but I would have preferred them to have chanted “Bush League” when he threw the water bottle.

  5. Congrats to the team on the win. Made it look easy in person. (It turned out to be a beautiful day at the stadium.)
    .
    Union’s skill on the ball in tight places really shined today. Good team and individual play all around, with some bobbles here and there that didn’t hurt them on the scoresheet.

    • OneManWolfpack says:

      Their ability pass the ball around in tight spots… under pressure… in their own end…. was incredible. Stood out all day

  6. Great shutout! Great performance. Almost got bored the last 20 minutes. Way to show authority and make Talen a Stadium traveling teams don’t want to go to.
    .
    Way to get Ilsinho off early. He contributed nothing.
    .
    Loved how Collin controlled the air. He must have had 20 head balls.

    • Agreed. Collin’s one of those players who drives you crazy as a fan unless he’s on your team. 6 months ago I’d never have thought I’d reflect positively on his performance after Union game!

  7. The Chopper says:

    This team has adjusted well to injuries and suspensions. Tanner has given Curtin quality depth to work with and Curtin is pulling the right strings on his adjustments. My annual summer vacation at the Union Cliff of Despair May just have to be postponed.

    • Curtin has needed a mentor for a long time now and I think Tanner has had a pretty positive affect on him. The deeper roster helps this year, but we are more advanced tactically than we were at this point last year.

  8. Tough for the Union and Jamaica to lose Blake, and tough luck for McKenzie to go down while the U-20s were still looking at him. Bad foul by Kai Wagner. Now, almost everything else was good today: aggressive defense pressing high, aggressive offense and Bedoya cleaning up in front of the goal, Burke posting up and distributing well up front. I noticed the turf was a problem in the goal during the first half; did that play a role in Blake’s injury? Divots everywhere today. When the opposing GK Bush picked a piece of the turf up and tossed it into the goal during the first half, the ground crew stepped it back into place, but it was where Blake starts his run up for the goal kicks.

    • Good question about Blake. I didn’t notice it happen in-person… all of a sudden, he was laying down in the box. The turf was really bad at that spot, right in middle just in front of the end-line.

      • Andy Muenz says:

        He had just taken a goal kick so I’m assuming it happened then.

      • We sit in 114. Montreal’s keeper tore a huge chunk of turf up after the pl. He tossed it into the net. The grounds crew guy talked to Andre before the start of the second half. They placed it back down but don’t know if it slips. Also…Bush league!!

  9. I was at the match today, right at midfield, and the amazing thing was that the Union won the match 3-0, and were thoroughly the better side… and they didn’t even have to play THAT well to do it. Which I mean not so much in the negative sense. What I mean is: the team can actually play a fair bit better than this. And they STILL thoroughly dismantled Montréal, with several key players missing.

    I believe we may have a real team on our hands this season.

    P.S. Monteiro was MOTM, Medunjanin and Bedoya we’re both great, and Gaddis also had an excellent match.

  10. OneManWolfpack says:

    This team has a system and they all know what to do in it. This is a new concept for us Union fans. They’re a solid playoff team that, if they get can some consistent scoring at the right time, can make real noise. I’ve been a Jim critic for a while… but he’s been good. So tip of the hat to you sir. And Tanner giving him the tools and letting him use them is equally important. Well done all around. Today was a great example of all that.
    .
    Said this a few weeks back on this site… Montiero is the key to this season. Dude is a baller. Excellent game today. He can play multiple positions and play them well. Amazing addition.

  11. Andy Muenz says:

    I actually wasn’t all that thrilled with the way they played today, specifically, there were a lot of sloppy passes that weren’t played with the authority to get to their target. Fortunately, Montreal didn’t make them pay.
    .
    I was also disappointed in the fans near me who were happy for some reason when it was announced that there was a video review after Wagner’s yellow card. It seemed like they thought the review might rescind the yellow when the only likely outcome was to turn it into a red (as actually happened). Fans would be well served to understand when and why a video review happens.

  12. Didn’t love some of the lineup choices but gotta give credit where’s it do, things worked out. I don’t necessarily think it was because of the changes, but Burke got his goal and it was a well taken chance,
    .
    Bedoya just an excellent all around game. That pass from Medunjanin was sublime, Aaronson getting better each game.
    .
    Gaddis struggling lately, and surprisingly quiet from Ilsinho, he is just to suited to being a sub.
    .
    Can’t say enough about Collin today. Great team win.

  13. Gotta be said how bad the field is. I remember them showing the time lapse of redoing the field, and having on at half time the one game, the owner of the company who did it. They really publicized the switch, and it’s terrible.
    .
    The pitch was not ever really a problem in years passed except when they had multiple events there without stop. I can’t help but feel like it’s gotta be something about saving money somewhere.

  14. Missed game but caught highlights.
    1. Attendance still an issue? What the highlights showed of stadium in background looked like lots of empty seats but hard to tell. El Pachy may be right about difficulty drumming up attendance when Phils and Eagles doing well and drawing eyeballs.
    2. Field was horrible when we caught both uswnt and home opener. Figured it was weather but looked pretty bad couple weeks ago on TV. My wife, who glanced up only a few times when I had Dallas game on, even commented how bad field looked, joking the one divot appeared to be roadkill.Hope not reason Blake went down They better redo field while in Vancouver.
    3. Hope Blake ok.
    4. Bedoya getting noticed!
    5. Congrats to Aaronson, and also to Colin and Freese for their starts.
    6. Rest some starters like Bedoya and Gaddis, Fafa and Elliott against Vancouver. Otherwise more injuries may hit before June. Cincy on Wednesday after other coast road game is brutal.
    UnionGoal

    • Andy Muenz says:

      Attendance was definitely down. Lots of empty seats.
      .
      It may not be easy to rest those guys against Vancouver, given that Wagner is getting a rest and we don’t know Fabian’s status.

      • Might not be easy, as I’m not sure rules from getting guys from Steel, but without rotation, guys get hurt. Been 8 matches in roughly 7 weeks with 2 Elliott and Bedoya definitely need rest. 3 games in 7 days coming up.
        Rotate best you can or could beore serious injuries.
        And for God’s sake, fix field. And to goofball that keeps saying on here and Twitter field needs more time, why wasn’t this such a major issue past several springs when winters were longer?
        Obviously you are connected with company that laid it down, and I realize criticism of your job anytime sucks and I sympathize with you, but man, field looks horrible and clearly looks dangerous to players.
        They have two weeks, fix it!!!
        UnionGoal

      • Andy Muenz says:

        I think I heard that the type of grass is completely different this year than in the past which would explain why it was not an issue in the past. That still doesn’t make it acceptable, though.

  15. What a nice win. The red card and injury to Blake sucks, but since the Union actually have depth I’m not too worried. It strikes me, that in the past this would have been a game that the Union lost or tied. Coming home from the loss in L.A., they wouldn’t have had enough in the tank to beat Montreal. But this year seems different. Have the Union actually become a mid-table team or better? I think they might be.
    .
    Kudos once again to Curtin. I may not like what he’s done in the past, but the man definitely deserves credit for what he’s been doing with the team this year.

    • This is definitely the sort of game they would have blown in the past. It’s exciting to see them win – and win under difficult circumstances.

  16. el Pachyderm says:

    Congrats to Union. Was out of town and unable to watch. Don’t miss games very often and am not too happy about it.

  17. Hey, that was fun. Corey’s first finish was perfectly clinical. When he pulled up for the shot I had no faith.
    .
    I am still very upset with Wagner’s late game foolishness. He’s been a stud this whole season and then he goes and does that. I’m hoping he doesn’t pick up a multi-game suspension. On the bright side, he’ll be fresher for short rest 1st and 4th matches. I guess we’ll be seeing Matt Real?
    .
    I enjoyed see Bedoya get on the score sheet again. He’s a real captain’s captain. Nearly bit Collin’s head off after one of his dodgy clearances. Collin was not good, straight up.
    .
    Aaronson showed his quality again. After one foray into the box that went out for a corner I saw Haris put his arm around the kid for some quick insight. I think Aaronson is learning a lot from this veteran midfield. Haris may not be the fastest but there’s a lot of IQ in his game.
    .
    Go Union. The Montreal curse was lifted.

  18. The grass sucks because they laid new sod in the Fall…then winter set in and the new grass did not have time to root before playing on the surface.

    Without the tech of Minnesota or the money and know-how of TFC’s turf crews (awesome article on The Athletic recently); there is no “fixing this” in two weeks. It’s essentially a carpet of grass laid over the surface of the earth, thus it’s pulling up with ease. You could see that when Bush pulled up a section, and the ground crew replaced it…it was a chunk of sod that hasn’t yet laid down roots.

    It’s nature, and the Union don’t have the capacity to manipulate it, like other clubs, in two weeks.

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