Match previews / Union

Match preview: Philadelphia Union vs Montreal Impact

Photo: Paul Rudderow

Who: Philadelphia Union (2020: 6-2-3, 21 points) vs Montreal Impact (5-5-1, 16 points)

What: 2020 MLS Regular Season

Where: Red Bull Arena, Harrison N.J.

When: Sunday, September 20th 7:00 p.m.

Watch: PHL 17, ESPN+

Whistle: Not available at time of publication

It’s been a long time since the Montreal Impact and Philadelphia Union have met each other on a soccer field, with their last clash coming over a year ago in Montreal. It was a poor showing from Philadelphia that night, going behind four minutes into the match and ultimately falling 4-0 after the 90 minutes. But this a very different Montreal team, with a new coach and some new offseason additions trying to prove they belong among the Eastern Conference’s best teams.

Scouting Report: Montreal 

New coach Thierry Henry had gotten his Impact squad off to and up and down start, they had won their season opener against New England and fought to a draw against Dallas, but were forced out of CONCACAF Champions League early, with no wins coming from their three matches. They also got off to a slow start at the MLS is Back Tournament, falling to New England and Toronto in their first to matches, then earning a win over DC to send them to the group stage, which ended in defeat to Orlando. Their restart to the regular season saw them face Toronto and Vancouver three times each, going 1-2 vs Toronto and 2-1 vs Vancouver; right now the Impact seem to win a game then lose the next. Their .500 average approach still has them tied for fifth in the East, just three points behind Orlando.

This will be an interesting match for Montreal. They’re technically the home team, but will be playing at Red Bull Arena due to coronavirus travel restrictions with the Canadian border. Combined with the fact that Montreal played in Vancouver Wednesday night, you have a team away from home after a cross country flight on short rest. Due to the condensed schedule, expect Montreal to rotate their lineup more than usual. They’ll also be without defender Rudy Camacho who received a red card last match, look for either Rod Fanni or Joel Waterman to replace him Sunday night. Further along the back Montreal sports youngsters Zachary Brault-Guillard and Luis Binks, with Guillard starting nine of the team’s 11 matches and Binks starting all 11. In goal is Clement Diop, who is back to being the regular starter after replacing Evan Bush in the final two games of last season.

In the middle of the park, is longtime Impact player and captain Samuel Piette, who has contributed one goal and one assist so far in 2020. Next to him is longtime Premier League player and newest Montreal star Victor Wanyama, who arrived earlier in the year from Tottenham Hotspur. Wanyama has also contributed a goal and a assist, but look for him to be rotated this match as he is still adjusting to the league and travel of MLS. On the attacking side of the midfield, Saphir Taider has had a good year so far, banging in four goals and six assists in his ten games, after starting against Vancouver he could come off the bench if not starting. To replace Taider, look to Lassi Lappalainen, the man who put two past Philadelphia in his debut last year. Lappalainen is younger and has only started four games for Montreal, but has been an option for Henry when he needs some goals.

Where Montreal has been a little thin has been in attacking options. Henry has settled on Romell Quioto as his main attacking option, with Quioto appearing in all 11 games so far and starting ten, notching five goals and a assist. From their Montreal has been rotating Orji Okwonkwo and longtime MLS player Maximiliano Urruti. Urruti has started six games and came off the bench in another, scoring three goals and notching an assist. Okwonkwo has been a more steady option off the bench, appearing in 1o games with 3 starts, he has a goal and 2 assists to his name so far in 2020.

Injury Report:   Out: Steeven Saba, Matheiu Choiniere, Ballou Tabla

Scouting report: Union

After being saved by super sub Anthony Fontana last time out, the Union will have to be sharper in attack to find a win in New Jersey. The biggest question for Philadelphia is who will replace Jose “El Brujo” Martinez at the number 8, as he will miss the match due to yellow card accumulation.

Andrew Wooten and Kacper Przybylko are still looking to work out their strike partnership, as it appears Sergio Santos will still be sidelined with a hamstring injury. We saw that Wooten can be an effective supplier for Przybylko, but he hasn’t yet made the in-behind runs Santos was able to find to create more space, with Wooten being more of a target man than a runner. In the midfield the Union will hope that Warren Creavalle has recovered from his injury last week, as he is the most natural replacement for Martinez. If he isn’t fit to start, we may see Alejandro Bedoya or Jamiro Monteiro drop back, making room for Anthony Fontana in the midfield diamond.

In the back, we will likely see Mark McKenzie and Jacob Glesnes as the centerback pairing for the night, as Jack Elliott was nursing an injury last week, I don’t see Jim Curtin rushing him back out given the condensed schedule. The biggest question mark is Kai Wagner, his return would be welcomed to the Union as Olivier Mbazio has been filling in on the left, out of his natural position. If he is unable, expect Mbazio to start on the left again, who’s has some bright spots since making the move.

Injury Report: Questionable: Kai Wagner, Sergio Santos, Warren Creavalle, Ilsinho, Jack Elliott Out: Aurelien Collin

Key Matchup:  Midfields

It remains to be seen how much Thierry Henry will rotate his midfield players after a midweek cross country game, or what strategy he even wants to play at “home” against the Union. For Philadelphia, they have forced rotation with Martinez’s absence, forcing the midfield chemistry and dynamic to change for the first time since the regular season restart.

Player to Watch: Jamiro Monteiro

Monteiro hasn’t had the breakout signature game all year yet. He may be moved back into the 6 position for this match, but I expect a big game from him after a few frustrating, and frankly disappointing appearances.

Prediction:  Philadelphia 1-1 Montreal

Andrew Wooten gets a goal in a pretty cagey and physical match. The Union let a lead slip late as they don’t have the same defense backbone without Martinez and get a road point.

Philadelphia: +115
Montreal:  +240
Draw: +260


  1. The Union are the favorite playing a weaker opponent that coming off short rest and cross country travel and also down a starting defender and you’re predicting tie?

    • In Tanner We Trust says:

      I’m optimistic but I understand it. Martinez is so important to what we do defensively. I’m thinking 2-1 but we’ll see.

  2. Without El B at #6, would love to see Monteiro slide back and Fontana take his place. Fontana can supply those Santos runs behind the D that Wooten can’t.
    Would also love to see Real in place of Mbaizo on the left. Mbaizo was great on the right side and should be pushing Ray for playing time, but he didn’t look nearly as good playing on the left side. Alternatively, you could start Ray on the left and Mbaizo on the right.

    • In Tanner We Trust says:

      ^^^^ THIS!
      Ray is a professional who gets the job done defensively no matter what side he’s on. But Mbaizo seems to need to be on the right. Great idea.

  3. DanC (formerly of 103) says:

    Out of nowhere, but basing it on the Ray talk… with a healthy Wagner and Ray able to sub in at either side, this team could probably win the whole thing if they managed to acquire Yedlin…

  4. Team needs to sort out its attack. Lots of running and passing without clear cut chances and chances not finished, or at least put on target.

    Perhaps Wagner missing is crucial here. Mbaizo seems solid defensively but can’t provide the service from that side. My guess is Curtin is favoring defensive ability over attacking threat in choosing Mbaizo over Real

    I like another 2-1 win here. Should be the result..

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