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Match report: CF Montreal 2-2 Philadelphia Union

Photo: Marjorie Elzey

A goal at the death from substitute Sunusi Ibrahim snatched two points away from Philadelphia Union, who drew 2-2 with CF Montreal on a rainy Saturday afternoon in Canada.  Two goals off set pieces in the second half helped Philadelphia Union recover from a poor first 45, but the later equalizer ensured the points were shared.

With much of the squad returning from international duty, Jim Curtin returned to the familiar 4-4-2 formation after going with the 3-5-2 to start against Columbus last week.  Matt Freese started in goal with Andre Blake nursing a minor injury, while Kai Wagner and Olivier Mbaizo returned to the side as fullbacks.  In midfield, Leon Flach stayed at CDM with Jose Martinez still unavailable, while Paxten Aaronson retained his place at the No. 10 ahead of Daniel Gazdag.  Up top, Quinn Sullivan started in place of the injured Sergio Santos alongside Kacper Przybylko.

The artists formerly known as Montreal Impact dominated the early part of the match, holding most of the ball and pinning the Union into their defensive half.  Philadelphia struggled to exert any control in the midfield and to bring Sullivan and Przybylko into the game.  The poor conditions at Stade Saputo impeded both teams, with wind and rain wreaking havoc on the ball.

Montreal broke the deadlock in the 33rd minute through midfielder Matko Miljevic.  Off a short corner, Djordje Mihailovic played the ball on the ground to Miljevic, unmarked near the penalty spot.  The youngster took a touch, with no Union players closing him down, and fired low into the corner of Freese’s net.

The hosts took that lead into halftime, with both sides looking miserable in the pouring rain.

Curtin’s crew started the second half brightly, showing off an energetic press largely absent in the first 45.  But with no end product in sight, Daniel Gazdag came on in the 57th minute to replace Sullivan.

Out of very little, the Union equalized in the 63rd minute.  Jamiro Monteiro hit a looping free kick from 40 yards out that floated over all the field players and doinked off the far post. The rebound hit the back of Montreal keeper James Pantemis’s leg and trickled into the net.

At the other end, Matt Freese came up big twice in the ensuing minutes.  First, Jack Elliott slid in to break up a cross in the box, but he deflected the cross towards the net. Freese did well to change direction quickly and pluck the ball out of the air, preventing an own goal of the Union’s own.  Moments later, Freese elevated to tip a dangerous blast from Joaquin Torres over the bar.

Jesus Bueno entered in the 75th minute for Jamiro Monteiro, the most significant action of the season for the summer signing from Venezuela.

One minute later, Kai Wagner gave the Union the lead. On a free kick from a sharp angle, Wagner put one low and hard toward the back post.  The ball bounced past about a dozen players and nestled into the corner of the net.

Suddenly chasing the game, Montreal huffed and puffed for the final fifteen minutes, but couldn’t manage any serious trouble — until they blew the house down with the final kick of the match.  Making a run down the wing, substitute Mustafa Kizza put a cross into the center of the Union box.  Ibrahim made a powerful run into the area, rose up between three Union defenders, and fired an unstoppable header into the far corner.

It’s a busy week for the Union, who play in midweek at Minnesota United.  Kickoff from Allianz Field in St. Paul is at 8:00 Eastern on Wednesday night.

Three Points

  • Taking advantage. It was rainy and miserable in Montreal, and the conditions favored dead balls over intricate build-up play.  The Union took advantage with two second-half goals off set pieces.
  • Slow start. Montreal came out sharp in the first half, and Philadelphia looked slow and uncertain.  Credit the Union for only allowing one goal and for making changes at halftime to get back into the match.
  • Gut punch. A point would have seemed fine before the match, but to drop two points with the final kick will disappoint Jim Curtin and his men.

Philadelphia Union

Matt Freese, Kai Wagner, Jack Elliott, Jakob Glesnes, Olivier Mbaizo, Leon Flach, Jamiro Monteiro (Jesus Bueno 75′), Alejandro Bedoya, Paxten Aaronson (Nathan Harriel 88′), Kacper Przybylko, Quinn Sullivan (Daniel Gazdag 57′)
Subs: Joe Bendik, Matt Real, Stuart Findlay, Jack McGlynn, Anthony Fontana, Matheus Davo

CF Montreal

James Pantemis, Zachary Brault-Guillard, Kamal Miller, Rudy Camacho, Joel Waterman, Mathieu Choiniere (Mustafa Kizza 84′), Emanuel Maciel (Bjorn Johnsen 78′), Samuel Piette, Djordje Mihailovic, Joaquin Torres, Matko Miljevic (Sunusi Ibrahim 59′)
Subs: Sebastien Breza, Clement Bayiha, Zorhan Bassong, Rida Zouhir, Ismael Kone

Scoring Summary

MTL: Matko Miljevic — 33′ (Djordje Mihailovic)
PHI: James Pantemis (OG) — 63′
PHI: Kai Wagner — 77′
MTL: Sunusi Ibrahim — 90+5′ (Mustafa Kizza, Kamal Miller)

Disciplinary Summary

MTL: Djordje Mihailovic — 44′ (foul)
MTL: Joel Waterman — 75′ (foul)


  1. Probably the most “deserved” result based on the play. The Union need to be able to maintain more than 36% possession if they want to be able to close out games with the lead.
    The good news is that they actually had the lead after giving up the first goal.

  2. el Pachyderm says:

    Boy that was a snoozer. I admit to switching back and forth between Chelsea and Union game the first half which as a hardcore, I probably shouldn’t have done especially after missing the last two games related to work and travel reasons… but I love watching Tuchel’s team so… it was neccessary.
    Anyway… here’s my obersavations from the choppy first half and full second half of watching -minus a helluva 12 minute or so power nap from about 49th-60th minute cause— remember- that game was a snoozer.
    I’d like to see more work rate from Paxten. I know you all are gonna think I’m picking on him and I’m not. It is an area of his game that needs to mature though if he seeks to maximize his potential in this environment then parlay it into a move overseas like his big brother. Paxten has all the skills but he cruises, patrols more than Brendan. I remember once earlier in the season when I thought Paxten tracking way way back from up top to break up a play was a harbinger but I haven’t seen that kinda effort since.
    I also find it interesting how often Montiero and Wagner seem to be cruising around out there as well and muse to myself, this is the stuff that makes MLS different than Europe because that shit didn’t fly for them coming up as Developers and I am certain it wouldn’t fly for them over there still as mature players.
    Just WAY too casual.
    Either way… that’s a lost two points— all while gaining one valuable point on the road against a pretty solid team which keeps the mojo working in the right direction.
    Boy snooze. Sheesh. Good nap though. Drool and all on my Lightening Bolt Pearl Jam T shirt.

    • Jeremy Lane says:

      I agree Paxten needs to be more consistent from a physical output perspective. That may be something that comes with physical maturity. I don’t know if he’s got the lungs and legs yet. I know young guys are supposed to be able to run all day, but maybe he’s not there yet. If it’s just desire/not what he’s used to/not what he wants to do, I’d be surprised if Jim keeps playing him.

      • I noticed Aaronson all the way back in the defensive line more than one or two times.
        He seemed unable to get things started at the 10. He ended up on the left flank and then to the right. He combined well with Mbaizo on the right flank.
        That Harriel came on for him seemed significant, as did Bueno getting trusted with the last 15 minutes of an undecided game.

      • Yeah, Tim, I saw him do some hard running, too, but it wasn’t very effective, or not consistently effective. Not sure what to make of that.

  3. Awful conditions, after Montreal scored first I would have been 100% happy with a draw so I guess I got what I wished for.

    Would have liked to see more coherent play but I think the conditions and the early kick off and everything made it hard. Sullivan was also very off his game, though so was Kacper. Kacper is getting really good at throwing his hands up when a teammate does something wrong, despite Kacper himself rarely doing anything right these days either.

    • Jeremy Lane says:

      Agreed that Kacper shows his annoyance too much, but he’s scored in like three of the last several games, so I don’t think he’s been as bad as you say. Sullivan did have an off day.

  4. The entire forward corps need to be flushed after the season.

    • Jeremy Lane says:

      Not necessarily disagreeing with you but, to be fair, only one player in the gameday roster was an actual forward.

      • That the other actual striker on the roster again saw no minutes whatsoever does not suggest he is convincing Jim Curtin he will do the defensive running.

  5. What a vintage Union result that was

  6. starting today until the end of the month they are playing every third or fourth day.

    • The good news is that so is almost everyone else (and it probably would be everyone if Don Garber understood he looks like an idiot running a league with an odd number of teams). The Union are on equal rest with the opponents the rest of the way.

  7. Nashville managed a 0-0 draw (there’s a surprise – 15th draw in 29 games) so the Union didn’t lose any ground on them but they also blew a chance to take over 2nd. Unfortunately Orlando won and moved within a point of the Union.

  8. A point on the road, against a solid team, in awful conditions, missing some key players, after giving up the first goal, is really a pretty decent result. And also a fair representation of the match. And yet it still feels like a gut punch to have it happen like that…

  9. After years of watching Curtin take too long to make moves, then make the same ones every game, I have been enjoying his increasing flexibility this season.
    They were totally overrun at midfield in the first half.
    He clearly made some tweaks at halftime, and they came out better, but not enough.
    Then he changed formations and put Bedoya and Montiero into the double pivot, which demonstrably changed the game.
    Would have liked the win, but liked what I saw in the second half.

  10. OneManWolfpack says:

    A little late here, but just wanted to comment that this team has to figure out how to take the ball to the corner flag and kill the game. They just don’t ever seem to do that when the opportunity presents itself. I remember seeing at least twice they had possession in Montreal’s half in the last few mins and extra time and both times I believe they went at the goal. Why? In this game, with just 3 mins of stoppage time, those two possession taken to the corner, could have ended this game. A deserved result I suppose – considering how bad they were in most of the game.
    Two big games this week against good opponents… especially Saturday at home.

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