Match previews / Union

Match preview: CF Montreal vs Philadelphia Union

Photo: Marjorie Elzey

Who: Philadelphia Union (5th in the East, 2-0-1) vs CF Montreal (14th in the East, 0-0-3)

What: MLS Regular Season, Matchday 4

Where: Olympic Stadium, Montreal, Quebec

When: Saturday, March 18, 7:30 PM

Watch: Apple TV, MLS Season Pass

Whistle: Nima Saghafi; Lyes Arfa, Oscar Mitchell-Carvalho; Filip Dujic; Daniel Radford, Craig Lowry

Philadelphia will travel to Quebec Saturday to face a CF Montreal squad that’s struggled early in the season. The Union are playing their third consecutive game on short rest thanks to their Champions League appearances. Also they are still missing Andre Blake, who’s recovering from an injury he suffered against Chicago last week. Montreal will be hoping to take advantage of their first home game of the year in order to pick up their first points of the season. The game will be played at Olympic Stadium due to the winter weather that often affects Montreal in the early season, a venue that often draws the ire of visiting teams thanks to its unusual configuration. 

Scouting report: CF Montréal

Montreal is coming into the game against Philadelphia losing their first three of the season, all while scoring a grand total of no goals. It’s not a hugely surprising start for Montreal. While the club finished second in the east behind Philadelphia in 2022, major changes across the club have left Montreal struggling early this year. Over the offseason the club lost both head coach Wilfred Nancy, and arguably their best player in Kei Kamara. 

Under the new management of Herana Losada, top contributors from last season’s campaign that remain have failed to deliver, and the attack has looked largely uninspired. Compounding their initial struggles will be a heap of notable injuries going into their game against Philadelphia. First choice left back Kamal Miller is out with a calf injury, starting keeper James Pantemis is out with a shoulder injury suffered vs Inter Miami, and newly acquired defender George Campell is still recovering from a pre-season ankle injury. 

On the positive front for Montreal, the game against Philadelphia will be played at Olympic Stadium, a historic venue for Montreal that usually draws large, rowdy crowds. The venue which has been maligned by visiting MLS teams for its rock-hard playing surface, has also seen an upgrade, with a new modern turf surface installed. Montreal will be hoping that the venue gives them an edge in a matchup where on paper, the opposition will be heavily favored. 

Injury report: George Campbell (ankle), Matko Miljevic (knee), James Pantemis (shoulder), Jojea Kwizera (hamstring), Kamal Miller (calf)

Scouting report: Philadelphia Union

If there was ever a time for an early season statement win, it would be now. While the Union are 3-1-1 across all competitions this season, only the season opening win vs Columbus really had the Union look like shield contenders many believe they are. Heading into their game against a struggling Montreal squad, they’ll be looking to put together a cohesive and decisive performance. 

Looking ahead to the lineup, it should be a relatively full strength lineup for Philadelphia, minus the absence of Andre Blake. Any major rotation should be saved for next week’s fixture against Orlando, where the Jim Curtain said the squad is expecting to lose “eight or nine” players due to the international window. 

Of the players expected to start against Montreal, special attention will be paid to Mikael Uhre, who’s failed to score so far this season, and only had three scoring attempts across all competitions. He had 13 goals in 2023 and was critical to distributing the attacking workload. Getting him going early in the year will be key for the Union as they aim to follow up 2023’s historic offensive performance. 

On the other side of the ball for the U, the back line will be looking to minimize good looks from Montreal in order to support backup keeper Joe Bendik. Bendik is getting only his fourth MLS start for the Union, replacing Andre Blake who’s recovering from a grade 1 abductor strain. 

Injury report: Andre Blake (adductor strain)

Match-up to watch: Uhre vs Montreal’s backline

Uhre has no goals to his name to start the 2023 campaign. The Union striker will be looking to remedy that against a depleted Montreal backline that’s looked porous early in the season. Look for Philadelphia to go out of their way to target the frontman early against Montreal, especially on the counter.

Player to watch: Romell Quioto

Quioto was Montreal’s leading scorer last season, netting 15 goals in 30 games played. With Montreal opening their home slate, and the added energy of playing in a newly resurfaced Olympic Stadium, Quioto will be looking to get on the board for the first time in 2023. 

Prediction: Philadelphia 3–1 Montreal

Home field advantage can only do so much to make up for genuine gaps in skill. Montreal are due a goal after going empty in three times out to start the season, and a home opener against a back-up keeper seems as good a time as any to get one. That said, it’s hard to imagine Philadelphia won’t score more than a few against a depleted Montreal backline. 3-1 is the prediction, but maybe a two goal Philadelphia win by any score is more accurate.


  1. santo bevacqua says:

    Excellent analysis and presentation, look forward to future articles…Good luck in all endeavors philly sports Tom.

  2. Nice read Tom!! Really hoping you keep up the work with PSP! I know college can be quite demanding. But this place is awesome and I’m sure as you have seen the readers here enjoy when a young person is contributing! Keep em coming!

    • Delco Roots says:

      Agreed. Great insights. I love reading your pieces, and look forward to more. Thanks for making time to contribute here.

  3. Atomic Spartan says:

    Ever been in Savannah? SCAD influence is everywhere. Not surprised about the erudite treatment. Welcome to PSP.

  4. Brendan Aaronson Report

    Have watched every Leeds game this year. He is in over his head and does not appear to be having too much fun. He is on the ground 50 of the time he comes in contact with an other player He rarely puts a shot on frame. He hesitates on deciding to pass or or shoot, mostly opting to pass. In his defense he hustles all the time. He has been ignored several times when he was open for a clean shot. He has made some nice passes in the final third that his team mates missed. The play in the premier league is very rough and he is boy among men. He needs to put on 15 to20 pounds of muscle to have any success in this league and not always look to make the perfect pass and just pul the trigger.

    • Chris Gibbons says:

      Fair assessment – but he also plays on a bad team that just fired their coach and was going to be relegation fodder regardless. Tough to be impressive under those circumstances.

    • He’s also recovering from appendicitis

  5. Good stuff here.
    Let’s earn those 3 pts

  6. I know this isn’t the game review article, but Mbaizo is soft.

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