Match previews

Match preview: Philadelphia Union vs. CF Montreal

Photo by Marjorie Elzey

Who: Philadelphia Union (8-5-7, 31 points – 4th in East) vs CF Montreal (7-7-6, 27 points – 7th in East)

What: MLS Regular Season

Where: Subaru Park, Chester, Pennsylvania

When: Saturday, August 21st, 8pm

Watch: PHL17, ESPN+

Whistle: Not available at time of publication

The Union will look to build on their strong midweek performance when they welcome Club de Foot Montreal to Subaru Park Saturday night for an Eastern Conference clash. This match marks the first meeting of these two clubs in 2021.

The visitors hold an edge over the Union all-time in this match-up (10-7-7), however, the Boys in Blue won both matches against in 2020 (2-1 on Oct. 11; 4-1 on Sept. 20).

For the home team, Saturday presents an opportunity to log consecutive wins for the first time since May 30th.

Scouting Report: CF Montreal

Montreal’s proverbial boat was rocked before any soccer was played in 2021, when Thierry Henry stepped down as head coach on February 25th in order to be closer to his family in London. Assistant manager Willfried Nancy took over and, to the surprise of many, has led the club to a fairly successful 2021 campaign thus far.

Montreal currently sit just inside the play-off in 7th place in the Eastern Conference with 27 points from 20 games played.

It has been a bit of an up-and-down season though and several of their wins have required late game heroics. Interestingly, Montreal’s scoreless draw away at FC Cincinnati on Wednesday extended their run of games decided by one goal or fewer to 15, with a 5-4-6 record during that stretch (the last team with a longer streak of games decided by one or fewer goals was San Jose from Sept. 2013 – May 2014).

Editor’s note: the nickname “Cardiac Feet” hasn’t stuck with fans unfortunately.

With that said, Nancy does have some weapons to deploy in his 3-4-1-2 formation.

Mason Toye leads the club with 7 goals while homegrown midfielder Djordje Mihailovic leads all players with 6 assists. Former Spurs defensive midfielder Victor Wanyama continues to have a strong individual season, including his controversial, game winning penalty against the New York Red Bulls last Saturday.

Injury Report

OUT: Ahmed Hamdi (undisclosed), Ballou Tabla (groin), Romell Quioto (hamstring), Lassi Lappalainen (groin) James Pantemis (heath & safety protocol)

Scouting Report: Philadelphia Union

The Union gave their home crowd something to cheer about on Wednesday evening with a 1-0 victory over a strong NYCFC team. Alejandro Bedoya scored his first goal of the season, ending a 25-match scoring drought in MLS – the longest run without a goal in his league career.

The final score was certainly the most important headline, but a close second was the return of Jamiro Monteiro to the gameday squad after having been away. He and the club were reportedly seeking a transfer to send him to Europe to be closer to family, however no deal ever materialized.

For Monteiro, fans collectively hope he is in a good place mentally and wish him and his family well. For the Union, they are undoubtedly better when he is available for selection.

Despite some wishes to see head coach Jim Curtin alter his lineup and perhaps employ a 4-2-3-1 formation with Flach and Martinez as a defensive midfield tandem, it’s never wise to bet on Curtin making any significant changes to his overall strategy and fans shouldn’t expect any different come Saturday.

As of Friday, midfielder Anthony Fontana is no longer listed on the injury report, so it is possible Union fans may see his return.

Injury Report

N/A

Key Matchup: Union Attacking Midfield vs Montreal Defensive Midfield

The Union have struggled all year to play forward quickly and create quality chances in the attacking third. Purposeful, decisive passing and off-the-ball movement while countering will be crucial to break through Montreal defensive midfield, which boasts the likes of the aforementioned Wanyama and Canadian international Samuel Piette.

Player to Watch: Kacper Przybylko

One of the best Striker Muffin goals this year came during Union’s 1-2 loss to Miami back in July: a one-time shot at the the top of the box that caught the keeper off-guard. Przybylko has struggled a bit of late (he was subbed off on Wednesday in the 63′ after failing to make a strong impact on the match). He uses his large 6’4″ frame well to shield off defenders, but sometimes he needs to just let it fly first-time.

Prediction: Union 2 – 0 Montreal

The Union start a streak of their own while ending Montreal’s 15 game tear of games decided by 1 goal or fewer.

3 Comments

  1. Assuming we’re not missing any information, I would expect Mbaizo to start instead of Powell. Don’t know whether Curtin thinks he can get 60 minutes of Monteiro to give one of Flach/Bedoya/Martinez a rest.

    • In Tanner We Trust says:

      From what I saw Monteiro was staying in shape on his own the entire time (another sign that he never “quit” on the team), so I imagine if Curtin thinks the chemistry is at the level it needs to be, he’d start. Especially considering everyone else is probably tired from a game just 3 days ago… great scheduling MLS! Genius.

  2. Old Soccer Coach says:

    Update: info available since Ben posted the piece:.

    REFEREE: Chris Penso.
    AR1 (bench): C.J. Morgante;
    AR2 (opposite): Mike Rottersman;
    4th: Katja Koroleva;
    VAR: Alan Kelly;
    AVAR: Kathryn Nesbitt

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