Match Report / Union match reports

Match report: Philadelphia Union 1-1 CF Montreal

Photo: Paul Rudderow

A rainbow dipped its toes in the water next to Subaru Park Saturday night, but the Union had a hard time finding the lucky charms, earning a draw against visiting CF Montreal.

First half

Alejandro Bedoya and Kacper Pryzbylko got their deserved breaks, Jamiro Monteiro returned to the line up (in his more effective spot at the eight), and Matheus Davo was on the bench for the first time. The Union looked to lean on their new look and start on the front foot, but almost immediately conceded a dangerous free kick at the corner of the box after Olivier Mbaizo was undone ball-watching. The right back earned a yellow card with that first foul, but the resulting set piece didn’t trouble the team as Andre Blake punched it clear.

Minutes later, Monteiro earned a yellow for his first foul of the night, and Union fans let match official Chris Penso know – quite vocally – that the game was not, in fact, about him.

The Union pressed as high as they have all season, but early on Montreal calmly made their way through the lines. The home team looked fairly calm themselves though, wasting very little possession in the first fifteen minutes and culminating in Sergio Santos trying to latch on to a cross from Kai Wagner but skying the half-chance over the bar.

A series of half chances down the Union’s left side were wanting for a better run, and in the intervening moments the home side bared their defensive teeth. Montreal flossed the smile, but Kai Wagner’s goal-line clearance and Andre Blake’s top notch positioning made effort for naught.

In the twenty-fourth minute, Sergio Santos – who had already gone down with a nasty looking twisted knee – was thoroughly thwacked by the trailing arm of a Montreal defender. Despite his yellow card eagerness earlier in the match, Penso was not interested in a foul or review.

So it goes.

Only a few minutes later, Santos and Leon Flach put Piette on his derriere – but the ball was on the striker’s wrong foot and the shot ended up on the wrong side of the post. Daniel Gazdag finally made his entrance into the fray, feeding Cory Burke near the penalty spot. The Jamaican made a clever turn on his wrong foot, and his shot also missed the mark. The Union controlled the ball and the match after giving too much to the lesser Northern Feet early on.

Jakob Glesnes flicked a Kai Wagner corner at the near post, almost bouncing his audacious chance into the far side. It went wide, but the Union were salivating and the Club simply slipping and sliding on the dew – then Gazdag matched the moistness on his subsequent chance, but put the slice over. With only a few minutes left in the half, another sumptuous Union chance found both strikers on their wrong feet, and the dance they did with the ball between them showed more surprise the orb had arrived through thick traffic than any bit of bite.

Montreal stole the narrative in first half’s extra time with a turnover, a great curling cross, and a lunging goal in front of some textbook ball-watching. It was a gut-punch: for all their efforts, the home team went into the locker room down a goal.

Second half

The only obvious change at halftime was Montreal’s willingness to sit deep and absorb the Union. The home side nearly broke the deadlock in the fiftieth minute, finding space in the channel and a cross measured perfectly to the six – but no attacker was there. Jamiro Monteiro earned three fouls in five minutes in the half, dancing his way past the entire population of Quebec. That third led to a Union corner and a Jack Elliot header, high and wide.

When Alejandro Bedoya made his way into the match for Cory Burke, nearly fifteen minutes of the half had elapsed with Montreal dictating play and eating clock. The visitors allowed two counter-attacking chances shortly thereafter, but nothing came of either – until a flicked ball to the far post found the entire Union side ball-watching again. Fortunately for the good guys, the pass was too quick for any Montreal player to run on.

Sergio Santos had another chance in the sixty-third minute, heading Leon Flach’s cross just wide of the far post. The Union were still far too eager to send the ball to the wing, but they were finding chances in the routine – and Gadzag flubbed a low and dangerous ball from Mbaizo on the right moments later.

As the half wore on, Montreal were content to sit deeper and deeper behind the ball. Joaquin Torres still gave the Union’s backline pause with his passing and vision – and he was excellent on the night – but the Cluster Friends were packed tightly between the midway line and their eighteen yard box. Chris Penso began to swallow his whistle and the Union began to show their frustration: there fewer than twenty minutes left and the Boys in Blue looked as far from a goal as they had all night.

Jose Martinez tried to make something happen in the final third, but was dispossessed. The ensuing counter had danger written all over it, but the Union’s back line were stout. Jim Curtin changed the team’s formation after that, removing Mbaizo in favor of three in the back. The home side needed something – anything – in the attack, but gave the ball and precious seconds away just moments later and a counter with Jack McGlynn seemingly alone in the channel somehow ended with him not even getting a touch on the ball.

Then, the rainbow.

In the eighty-seventh minute, a Union cross was settled by Jack Elliott and slipped to Quinn Sullivan at the top of the box. He set the ball up perfectly on his right foot and lashed it into the visitor’s net, leaving the keeper completely frozen. It was a goal that had shades of Anthony Fontana in it and brought the home crowd to their feet.

Six minutes of stoppage started with a Union counter that was fiercely met by an enlivened Montreal bus – the visitors were certainly not going to give a result away that easily. There was a parry in gray and another in blue, one finding the keeper’s hands the other a lonely end line, there was some professional time-wasting as well.

Then a real Bedoya-back sighting happened – it was an odd match. In the end, the Union were better on the night but undone by their final ball and their lack of striker prowess.

Three points
  • Jim Curtin benched a slumping striker and his timeless captain, then he made some early subs for truly ineffective starters. He still hasn’t given Stuart Findlay a fair shot, but is beginning to rotate his squad in step with fan’s expectations – no small Feet.
  • Daniel Gazdag isn’t bringing enough to the lineup to warrant his spot right now. Too much redundancy in his movement and not enough quality in his final ball, the Union need so much more out of him to reach their potential.
  • Quinn Sullivan and his Homegrown Homies continue to earn their keep. It’s time they start doing so in starting roles considering the less-than-stellar form of the men in front of them.

Philadelphia Union

Andre Blake; Olivier Mbaizo (Quinn Sullivan, 81′), Jakob Glesnes, Jack Elliott, Kai Wagner; Jose Martinez, Jamiro Monteiro, Leon Flach (Jack McGlynn, 65′), Daniel Gazdag (Kacper Pryzbylko, 65′), Sergio Santos, Cory Burke (Alejandro Bedoya, 57′)
Subs: Matt Bendick, Alvas Powell, Stuart Findlay, Paxten Aaronson, Davo

CF Montreal

Breza, Miller, Struna (Kizza, 88′), Waterman, Choiniere (Bassong, 69′), Wanyama (Maciel, 77′), Piette, Braut-Gillard, Mihailovic, Torres (Ibrahim, 77′), Johnsen (Hamdi, 77′)

Subs: Pantemis, Bahiya, Kone, Zouhir

Scoring Summary

MTL – Mihailovic (45’+)

PHI – Sullivan (87′)

Disciplinary Summary

PHI – Mbaizo (3′)

PHI – Monteiro (6′)

MTL – Choiniere (44′)

MTL – Miller (68′)

MTL – Greza (90+’)

MTL – Kizza (90+’)


  1. The Union really need to be better in the final third. Le sigh.

    • In Tanner We Trust says:

      Yep. The ref was awfully inconsistent but our biggest obstacle was an inability to finish off good chances. I liked what Sergio brought tonight but I was frustrated with Burke and Kacper pretty often.

  2. In Tanner We Trust says:

    Couldn’t agree more with your 3 points. Gazdag deserves patience, it takes time. But right now we need wins and I tend to think he’d be better getting 25 minutes at a time. Problem is, do we start Aaronson? Because I can’t take another string of games with Monteiro’s box to box brilliance wasted at the 10 where he’s somewhat less effective. I don’t know what it’ll take Sullivan to start. Remember we used to track how many points Blake would single-handedly save us 5 years ago? I feel like Quinn is getting to that point, bailing us out in the few minutes he’s given.
    And it’s so nice having Monteiro in form. Best player on the pitch and it’s a shame his passes downfield didn’t result in anything from the guys making runs. And that leads me to my other thought:
    Flach is struggling to do anything productive in attack, it just doesn’t seem to be his strong suit. I don’t doubt that we can learn but Wagner needs someone to combine with or we risk wasting the best LB in MLS’ full potential. I personally think Sullivan should get that spot, with Flach rotating with Bedoya. And if Martinez ever needs a rest, I’m comfortable with Flach at the 6 too.

    • el Pachyderm says:

      This is excellent commentary. Carry on.

    • Dave Greene says:

      Quinn coming off the bench is working. No need to change it. Santos is also a spark but ok with him starting too. They need a forward to run behind.
      McGlynn should start ahead of Flach. Much better player on the ball and can provide the passes to Miro and into the final third.
      Better to change the system to 4-2-3-1. Cannot play with two similar strikers that cannot press and expose the midfield.

      • In Tanner We Trust says:

        I disagree, but truthfully I’d be happy with either of them starting. I like McGlynn too. You make good points here.

  3. el Pachyderm says:

    Lost points tonight. Not gained a point tonight. Facts.
    Back to so many missed touches. Again.
    Back to a kid bailing them out. Again.

    So strange.

    The game was an absolute dead heat and it is a bummer the difference was 1 second of complete neglect by Glesnes. How do you get to the highest levels of soccer as a central defender and not be more intimately aware of your mark. He looks once then never looks again. Worth a benching in my opinion. I like the player but he has attention issues and played tonight blacked out as though pulling whippets. I had a buddy who would pull so many whippets from his mom’s basement—he’d black out -then come to laughing — generally patchy blue and do it all over again. It’s actually called cyanotic in medical parlance but yeah… lots of whippets back in the late 90’s. So strange.
    In other news….the strikers are an issue at the soccer. I know I know. But I said it. And at least I didn’t say the word I wanted which is s- – k. But it’s the truth. They each have some redeeming qualities individually on the field but if it takes three players on a roster to score the number of goals one quality goal scorer scores — it’s poorly construed and from my perspective not arguable.
    Bedoya. Kacper. McGlynn. Boy that was enthralling to watch. Rescued again…by a kid.

    • In Tanner We Trust says:

      I agree with a lot of this. My take on the striker situation: Santos could be a super sub if he had the opportunity, with his speed attacking fresh legs and making good diagonal runs, but Przybylko and Burke starting together up top just doesn’t cut it at this level. Kacper has proven to be too inconsistent and at times clumsy with the ball at his feet. Burke offers more but he’ll completely disappear way too much. I just hope Davo can be an upgrade and maybe even good enough to give Santos a chance to be instant impact off the bench.

  4. Penso should go ref 3rd grade games, that’s about all he’s qualified to do. He clearly doesn’t know the rules, like the fact that the ball’s not supposed to change possession when it hits him. He’s an embarrassment to the league. (And some of those were in the Union’s favor like not give Wagner a yellow when he fouled to stop a Montreal break.
    That being said, I disagree with your comment that the Union were better on the night. Montreal was getting to almost every loose ball. Martinez was a disaster waiting to happen the way he was giving away the ball every time he was pressured. It was shades of the Club America game, only 10 times worse. Every long ball would bounce over the forward’s head (or just be out of reach). Given that next week is their last full strength game before the second half of the semifinal (the New England game is during an international break), they really need to get on the same page soon if they want to have any chance.

  5. Lot can be said and has been above. U weren’t good enough.
    Penso sucks.
    Quinn needs to start over Flach – Flach is #6 not #8.
    Looking forward to seeing the new striker.
    This is rebuilding year.

  6. Really tough to see the strikers struggling in the final 3rd. Sullivan is nearing supersub status! I mean if you come off the bench and save the game/team, your a super sub!

  7. Given that he came off the bench today despite being the subject of trade rumours, is Harry Kane now the Jamiro Monteiro of Tottenham?

  8. Guy LaFleur-de-Lis says:

    They practice tackling a pressing a great deal, it seems. Not so much passing, receiving and finishing.

    Damn near 90 minutes before finding somebody willing to pull the trigger. Of course it was a kid…….

    The “attack” is and has been woeful all season-now bordering on unwatchable. The year is a step back. Playing out the string, contending for nothing.

    Can the new guy be any worse? Don’t answer that……

  9. Gruncle Bob says:

    Spot on with the three points. Sullivan should start. The strikers are not good enough.

  10. Frustrating game. In part I blame the manager for the dropped points. The starting lineup, with rests, was fine. But this team has major trouble once down a goal, and it takes something significant to get us over into breakdown scoring mode. And so he brings in… Jack McGlynn?? I like the kid, he’s solid, he deserves minutes. But he’s not the one gonna get us a goal. Bedoya?? Same thing. I was yelling for Quinn or Paxten starting in the 55th minute. I was proven right, for good and bad.

  11. This was frustrating….
    At least we didn’t have to endure the vanishing black hole that is Ilsinho this game, but McGlynn did not have a single really positive touch IMO (and how did not even touch that through ball in the channel – like he just ran after it and then watched it roll out of bounds). t seems like that is the case too frequently – not showing the same brash willingness to take people on that the other young players do. Dare I call him the next Brian Carroll???
    Sullivan was the only person on the field not afraid to shoot. This is a player who actually produces in games. I don’t know if you’ve watched him in warm-ups, but you can see that this kid truly loves to play the game and has real technical skill. He always has a smile and is bringing balls out of the air and passing them to his partner without the ball touching the ground. Reminds me of a clip I saw of Grealish, Foden and Mount doing the same thing knocking the ball around after training for England at the Euros.

    • OneManWolfpack says:

      We need to start playing Sullivan consistently before the secret really gets out and he’s sold. Kid can play. Period. He needs to start.

  12. You are spot on with your three points. For what it is worth, here is my take: If the Union are going to play an uptempo, pressing and counterattacking style, then they need players who fit that style of play. Pryzbylko and Bedoya (whom I greatly admire as both a person and a player and whom I think will be a future USMNT coach) are too slow; Corey Burke is fast enough, but not skilled enough. So far, Gazdag has not been an especially good fit, though I cannot pinpoint a reason why. I think that you are a bit to harsh on Flach because he has been an excellent defensive presence, and he has bailed out the defense on numerous occasions. I think that the best option right now is to start the kids (Aaronson, Sullivan and and McGlynn) in favor of Pryzbylko, Bedoya and Burke. Hopefully, they can outpace the opposition so that 1) the Union might be ahead in the 60th minute when 2) it is fine to slow the game down and play possession. My thinking here is that this should be done in the Club America game where the Union absolutely have nothing to lose. And yes, they pass up far too many shots where one of the results might be a block and a resulting corner.

  13. OneManWolfpack says:

    On a different note: Just wanted to put on record that the Q&A after the game with The Man, The Myth, The Legend Ray Gaddis was awesome. He signed autographs and just talked about life and answered questions from anyone who wanted to ask. Really a nice time and while I wish he was still playing, I’m glad he seems happy and content with his decision. Continued success Ray!

    • Andy Muenz says:

      Thanks for the update. We would have considered going except it was on the other side of the stadium and my wife was already having health issues with the humidity being so high.

  14. Plain and Simple

    I have said the same thing several times. and its still the main reason for our weak offense.

    Plain and simple The Union did not replace Brendan Aaronson with a player of his equal ability. His attack style his ditribution, his vision, his quickness, and his creativity and goal scoring ability.

    The Union management failed.

    • Chris Gibbons says:

      Counterpoint: if Aaronson was as influential as you say, replacing him would have been a pretty tall order. Maybe Gazdag is that guy, but needs a year? Maybe it’s Bueno? Maybe it’s one of the homegrowns, who also need time.

      I think people overrated Aaronson at the time, but either way replacing the franchise’s all time best youth player isn’t as simple as picking the next one off the shelf.

      • Rich Myers says:

        It was exciting to see Brendan Aaronson’s development as a member of the Union. Without question, he is a much better player today than he was when he played here. In 2018-2019, his minutes were limited, much as the homegrowns have had their minutes limited. I don’t know what flipped the switch to get him more time on the field, but what he may have lacked in skill he made up for with his motor. I have not seen that motor out of Gazdag, for whatever reason. Is it too much to ask that the players give maximum effort? I would rather see a less skilled homegrown giving his max than a more skilled (but with less pace and perhaps, less fitness) international give less than his max.

      • time will tell if Gazdag can fill Aaronsons shoes but so far it does not look good. I think we would have been much better off getting a “Barnetta”, a seasoned versatile skilled player with a few years of hi level performance still in the tank who could contribute immediately and mentor the upcoming guys like Aaronson Jr. and the other Union JV team. The Union were one of the top scoring teams last year. They have significantly regressed in scoring and enjoyability to watch.

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