Match Report

Match report: Philadelphia Union 3-0 CF Montreal

Photo: Marjorie Elzey

The Philadelphia Union decimated CF Montreal on Saturday night, 3-0.

Jim Curtin made three changes to the team that took down Charlotte FC midweek, bringing on Matt Real, Jesús Bueno, and Nathan Harriel. The new faces slid alongside Union regulars in the team’s latest odd-numbered formation, a 3-5-2 (which looked a lot more like a 3-4-1-2 given Daniel Gazdag’s positioning). Montreal made eight changes ahead of their midweek cup fixture.

First half

The opening minutes of the match were open and chippy, with the Union earning several half-chances and Montreal earning several half-fouls, in addition to several full ones. Following some of that aforementioned open play, the Union moved the ball deftly along the right hand side. Searching for an onrushing head, Harriel’s cross was heavy, but Real received the errant ball on the wing and laid it back to striker Julian Carranza. The Argentine froze his mark at the top of the box, cut right, and curled a daisy-cutting shot into the far corner of the net.

After only 12 minutes, it was 1-0 Union.

The concession lit a fire under the visitors, but Real snuffed out a decent cross that skittered toward the goal mouth and then nearly put another of his own on the head of Mikael Uhre at the far post. Moments after that Gadzag put a rocket in the right side-netting and Uhre put his own roller inches wide. The home side could smell blood, but were playing with their food – tossing the Canadian seal into the air, letting it tire itself out.

Andre Blake reminded fans that sometimes, if the shark gets careless, the seal gets away.

On an end to end sequence featuring a back heel for its final pass in the box, Lassi Lappalainen found himself at the penalty spot with just the Jamaican talisman in his way. Like the brick wall that he is, Blake stoned the Scandinavian. Sunusi Ibrahim nearly split the Union line again mere moments later, with only the extended foot of Kai Wagner keeping his barreling chance off target – with Blake smothering the training ground set piece that followed.

They say if you find yourself in the jaws of a shark, one way to force it to release you is to poke it in the eyes. These moments were Montreal’s entrapped “Three Stooges” attempts.

Uhre made sure the Union didn’t go into halftime rueing their missed chances. Following some switching fields, Harriel played Carranza toward the end line on the right. The goal-scorer ripped a cross low toward the center of the box that caromed to the onrushing Dane’s feet. Amidst the chaos, he made no mistake, lifting the ball into the back of the net for a 2-0 lead.

Second half

A triple substitution for the visitors opened the second stanza, with Head Coach Hernan Losada’s eyes already on the team’s midweek cup tie.

It was as much a white flag as can be waived in a soccer game, but the Union weren’t quite ready to let their guests off so easy. The first ten minutes of the half were played nearly entirely in the Montreal’s end, but few real chances came from the pressure or presence. In the 61st minute though, it all paid off. Just shortly after receiving a clearance to the jewels, Carranza was on the end of a one-two from Gazdag at the top of the box. The striker settled and shot, the ball taking two deflections before nestling in the River End net.

It was 3-0 to the Union and it could’ve been much more. As the Apple TV+ commentators said, the visitors were “disappearing out of sight.”

Just a moment later, the ball was sitting on the penalty spot after an egregious Montreal error – but Carranza skied his chance high on the left side. An easier hat trick few players have ever had, but it wasn’t to be.

The Union remained relentless on the defensive end, getting stuck into every tackle and specifically not letting any of Montreal’s creative players have time or turn with the ball. It wasn’t a perfect defensive performance – particularly against a second choice visiting side. But it was indeed a masterclass.

Off a corner kick, the ball bounced to the far post, perhaps off Gazdag’s arm, and fell to Jack Elliott. The center back slid his chance across the goal mouth, inches from crossing the line. It was as close as a goal can be without counting. With a handful of new players on the field for both teams, the fresh legs were ready to run again and each new Boy in Blue was ready for his own “DOOP in the auld onion bag.”

One player who did not come off was Carranza, and it was clear from their passing sequences his teammates were eager to get him his hat trick one way or another. A back heel here, a flick there – all ending up on the Argentine’s foot, but to no avail. Even the challenges in the midfield seemed to get harsher, everyone looking to play Hero Ball and start their own counter. Montreal meanwhile was getting chippier, chattier, and less interested in having their lunch eaten while on their work trip to the Greater Philadelphia Region.

Before anything too nasty happened though, the final whistle blew. The home side earned their days of rest with their ninth straight match unbeaten.

Philadelphia Union

Andre Blake, Matt Real (Damion Lowe, 63′), Kai Wagner, Jack Elliott, Jakob Glesnes, Nathan Harriel, Leon Flach (Andrés Perea, 78′), Jesús Bueno (Jose Martinez, 63′), Dániel Gazdag, Julián Carranza, Mikael Uhre (Joaquín Torres, 78′)
Subs: Olivier Mbaizo, Richard Odada, Jeremy Rafanello, Joe Bendik, Chris Donovan

CF Montreal

James Pantemis, Gabrielle Corbo (Ousman Jabang, 81′), George Campbell, Robert Thorkelsson, Zachary Brault-Guillard, Nathan Saliba, Ilias Iliadis (Joel Waterman, 45′), Bryce Duke (Mason Toye, 45′), Ahmed Hamdi, Lassi Lappalainen (Matko Miljevic, 45′), Sunusi Ibrahim (Sean Rea, 64′)
Subs: Logan Ketterer, Aaron Herrera, Jules-Anthony Vilsaint, Jojea Kwizera

Scoring Summary

PHI – Julian Carranza, 12′

PHI – Mikael Uhre, 36′

PHI – Julian Carranza, 61′

Disciplinary Summary

MTL – Campbell, 31′

MTL – Thorkelsson, 76′

MTL – Miljevic, 88′

PHI – Martinez, 88′


  1. Random thoughts
    1. Jim was dumb putting Jose on when the game was getting chippy…you knew a yellow (or worse) was coming.

    2. Bueno keeps getting better and better. Decent backup for Jose.

    3. Torres is a complete waste of a roster spot, contributes nothing.

    • el Pachyderm says:

      After that game…2 of 3 points are negative? Fungul.

    • Andy Muenz says:

      Martinez needs to grow up and put his team before his ego. Curtin should make him fly to San Jose on his own dime and run laps the whole time he is there.

      • Deez Nuggs says:

        You’re joking, right? The dude literally grabbed his leg and pulled it and Jose gave him a little push. Dude dropped like a bag of rocks grabbing his face. Super soft yellow. You could probably appeal it. That’s how soft it was.

      • Andy Muenz says:

        It looked to us like he elbowed his opponent. In any case, when you are one card away from suspension, winning 3-0, and you have the reputation he has, you need to bend over backwards not to give the ref an excuse to give you a card.

      • Andy Muenz says:

        Just watched it again and saw it wasn’t an elbow or contact with the face. That being said, it was COMPLETELY unnecessary in a 3-0 game and showed a lack of situational awareness.
        Martinez is a selfish brat who needs to grow up if he wants to reach his full potential.

    • He put Jose in because he thought he could only play him 30 minutes without getting a card thus getting him close to having 1 taken away. It backfired unfortunately.

      • Tim Jones says:

        This season Martinez has never gone more than three games played without a yellow card.

      • Andy Muenz says:

        But getting one for retaliation on a tackle where your opponent gets one for the foul when you are winning 3-0 is completely unacceptable and he should have gone a 3rd straight game without one.

    • Atomic Spartan says:

      Re Jose “needs to grow up:” A little late for that. Brujo’s gonna be Brujo. Was Bueno looking gassed? Given the yellow card situation, a questionable sub indeed. Certainly JC wishes he had that one back

      • Andy Muenz says:

        Brujo’s gonna be Stupido is more like it. Curtin has to be able to count on his veteran players not to pick up retaliation yellow cards when they are up by 3 goals. If it had been a yellow for aggressive play, that would have been one thing, but this one was just completely unacceptable.

  2. Tonight’s starting 11 did a fine job. Harriel was particularly impressive. Bueno also did well. We gave them a few chances in the first half that a better team might have put away, but we squeezed them effectively to finish out the match. Could have really put them to the sword, though. Last year’s squad might have run this one up to 6 nil. Bravo to the boys. Well earned 3 points.

  3. el Pachyderm says:

    Outstanding game. Just Play Well. And we’ll you played.
    Crisp. Rhythmic. The ping of one touch footy had the ball moving quickly but not hurried. Staunch defending. Andre stunning at the needed time. Bueno showing he’s ready to play. Montreal didn’t even belong in the state.
    Unbeaten in 8. Onward. Upward. Carry on.

  4. Really hate missing a home game! Went to the AC beerfest. Most likely the only event that could keep me out of Chester! Sounds like a good game by the boys! Glad ill have the replay to watch. Come on the U!!

  5. HopkinsMD says:

    That. Was. Fun. El Pachyderm summed it up. And TRE rocked, and the rest of the stadium really thundered with them for a while, too. Electric.

  6. OneManWolfpack says:

    Was one of the most – if not the most (not counting a playoff game) – energetic, lively, fun, etc. crowd / chanting games I have ever been to in all the years of Talon/PPL/Subaru. Boys played great. Could’ve had 1-2 more easily. Montreal didn’t really threaten, save that one big save from Blake. Keep it rolling. Packed house as well. Fun night to be there. Awesome stuff. Starting to get that 2022 “whipping ass, ain’t nobody coming in here getting points” vibe again 🙂

  7. The Union are a good team. Montreal are a mediocre team. Good teams are supposed to beat up on average teams at home, and the Union did. Here are my observations from Section 105.
    1) Unlike Wednesday night, the Union started on the front foot. We had a perfect view of Carranza’s first goal, which he threaded between two defenders low and curling off his right foot. The curl made the shot impossible to stop. Carranza is best when he is looking for his shot, as he did this evening.
    2) With the Union up 1-0 in the 30th minute, the Union allowed a break and Andre Blake comes out one on one and saves a goal. I turned to my fellow season ticket mates and said, “Bendik saves that one, too, doesn’t he?” No, he doesn’t, and the game might have had a far different feel had Montreal scored there.
    3) But five minutes later, with Montreal thinking that they might have a chance, the Union basically iced the game by Uhre’s deft, tight-angled rebound of a Carranza shot.
    4) Bueno and Real played well as starters and they did not miss the Captain.
    5) I thought that Curtin was going to rest both Martinez and Mbaizo, and fortunately, neither of them was needed for this win. Nevertheless, Curtin subbed in Martinez and he got a yellow for retaliating against a shoestring tackle by raising his hand towards an opponent’s face. The retaliation risked a red card and El Brujo was fortunate only to see yellow. This would have been a good match for Jose to have watched the entire 90 minutes.
    6) We all thought that Carranza was going to get his hat trick after he got a goal on a double doink, but the soccer gods had other ideas. He skied a sitter from the center of the box. That makes him human.

    All in all, a fine workmanlike win from a team that is finding new shapes and depth. I like it!

    • Andy Muenz says:

      Probably would have been best to bring Martinez in for stoppage time and tell him to go stand in a corner and do nothing so he could get credit for the game towards getting a good behavior reduction on his cards.

      • Section 114 says:

        Is it possible they wanted to give him an extended break and so by taking a yellow here he resets for a game he was already going to miss?

      • Andy Muenz says:

        Not real likely since they only have one game in the next 2.5 weeks (although I don’t know if he’s in line to play for Venezuela during the international break.

      • narbrich says:

        Indeed. I am not sure what the thinking was. Perhaps we need to teach him to count to diez!

      • Tim Jones says:

        to understand the move, do NOT focus on Martinez and his needs.
        Focus on Bueno.
        Bueno played 60 minutes at the varsity level for the first time ever. He had to come off.
        The choice was between Martinez and Odada, making the assumption that Perea is being re-trained to become a shuttling midfielder.

  8. John P. O'Donnell says:

    Nathan Harriel, you were everywhere tonight. This formation really seemed to make him stand out. Montreal just couldn’t handle the press in the first half.
    Other then LAFC out West & maybe a surprising Saint Louis, nobody looks as good as the three teams on top of the East.

  9. Yes, good looking game, but more Apple TV complaints. This one – if I get started late (or even have to wait for the full replay), I want to see the game as it happened, I don’t want to know the current (or final) score before I start. So why does Apple put the score on the icon when selecting the game – a really stupid and annoying move. If I wanted to know the score before I watch, I have the option to come here (or go to the Inquirer or Yahoo Sports or ESPN, or Apple could have a current scores page if they wanted), but if I don’t want to know I don’t have the option to not see the score on Apple TV’s selection page.
    Phew, now that I got that off my chest, I was impressed with Matt Real tonight, at both ends of the pitch

    • Andy Muenz says:

      There is a way to change your settings so that the score doesn’t show up, but you have to go to your account settings on each device you use since it only changes it on that device which is a PITA. And yes, Apple is stupid for defaulting to showing the scores rather than not.

      • How do you get it to stop showing scores on the TV? I was able to do it on my phone but not able to find it on my tv and the scores still show there?? If anyone knows please help.

      • Andy Muenz says:

        When you go to Apple on your TV, there should be a few things across the top (Apple TV, MLS Pass, a magnifying glass, and a weird symbol like a Y in a circle rotated 45 degrees). Go to the weird symbol and you should get a dropdown menu. Under Privacy, one of the options is “Show Sports Scores”. Click on it and it should go from On to Off.

      • Thank you thank you thank you!!!!

      • Murphthesurf says:

        Thank you !!!

    • el Pachyderm says:

      Good call on Real.

  10. We did well by taking full advantage of a visiting team at home that was far more concerned about their Canadian Championship (their FA Cup/USOC) opportunity on Wednesday.
    . . .
    They’re playing Vancouver on Wednesday as the favorite for a national championship trophy and CCL spot. Montreal is only 10th in the East right now. It was the right gamble for them, and we made the best of the concessions.
    . . .
    We did the same tradeoffs for going for gold with the CCL this year. By capitalizing tonight, we helped negate what we spent on the balancing of interests. What goes around comes around for teams with real chances for trophies.
    . . .
    We also balanced our missing players at the U-20 (who are getting great experience) and from the midweek match, and got the three points and three unanswered goals for tiebreaker purposes. We also kept our unbeaten streak going with enough wins to rise to third place in the East and just a point behind Nashville.
    . . .
    The result was good teamwork and good management from past and present gambling considerations and capitalizing on them. That bodes well for us.

  11. Dominant and fun to watch.

  12. Andy Muenz says:

    Just saw the stat that in the last 20 MLS games at Subaru Park (including playoffs), the Union have outscored their opponents 61-11.

    • Of course!

      NOT playing in those damm SoCal Surfer kit…. SMILE.

      Dominant win.

      Here’s to hosting MLS Cup 2023 in Chester!

  13. Brandon Craig got schooled in Uruguay’s first goal.
    L-A-Z-Y… gets US knocked out.
    U20 World Cup a pre-north american WC? Yes… And the coach deserves support for HC.

  14. Andy Muenz says:

    Looks like McGlynn and Sullivan (and Craig) should be available for Saturday night’s game in San Jose. I’m assuming McGlynn will take Martinez’ spot in the lineup.

  15. Deez Nuggs says:

    F—- LAFC. I’m glad they lost.

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