Julian Carranza turned in his fourth multi-goal of the season as he capped off a total team performance that saw Philadelphia Union defeat CF Montreal, 3-0.
Carranza notched goals in both halves while Mikael Uhre collected his sixth goal of 2023 to power the Boys in Blue's unbeaten streak to nine league matches.
With both teams playing their third match in eight days, both sides lined up with some fresh legs on the Subaru Park pitch. Head Coach Jim Curtin made three changes but kept five at the back, with Kai Wagner sliding inside to the third center back role opening up a place for homegrown Matt Real. Jesus Bueno and fellow homegrown Nathan Harriel also added speed to the Boys in Blue, and in the first half, the trio put that pace to work.
As both teams settled into the contest with different pairings, there were chances on both ends that saw key blocks by regular starters. CF Montreal nearly opened the scoring five minutes into the contest as their forwards dragged Jakob Glesnes and Jack Elliott to the right side of the Union’s formation. With Wagner the lone defender, a quick combination saw the visitors about to test Andre Blake from distance but Leon Flach hustled back with a sliding block to deny Bryce Duke any chance of getting a shot off.
After successfully defending the opening corner kick, the Boys in Blue went onto the attack with Julián Carranza dropping into the midfield to drag a center back out of position. Bueno went full sprint, taking a pass from his South American teammate and getting to the edge of the Montreal box. Bueno opted for a hard cutting pass to his left for a blast from Carranza, but the forward’s shot was blocked by the Canadian defense.
Carranza was just getting warmed up as he helped the Union grab the early lead with a 12th minute finish. Like the midweek approach during Wednesday's contest against Charlotte FC, which was getting the ball out on the flanks and striking off a cross, the Union continued on went that route, going from a lost chance to a remarkable goal.
Harriel raced down the right side and smashed a cross over the box that was recovered via a sprint from Real. The homegrown quickly shot a pass to the boots of Carranza who had 1v1 setup against CF Montreal outside the box. A quick step over and touch to his right was all Carranza needed for an inch of space to rifle a shot to the back post that snuck through everyone and sent Subaru Park into a frenzy.
Real was right back at it with his defensive duties as he helped maintain the lead as CF Montreal sought to equalize shortly after falling behind. A quick cross into the box from Ilias Iliadis somehow snuck through the vast amount of bodies in the box, but Real reacted quickly when it did with a key block on Zachary Brault-Guillard.
Confidence build for the Boys in Blue after the defensive stop as Uhre nearly doubled the Union’s advantage in the 21st minute. Combining with Daniel Gazdag, the Danish forward sought to copy the finish of Carranza but missed just inches wide with a back post attempt on the grass.
With the Union in control on their home turf, Montreal nearly turned the match on its head but were again reminded that the Boys in Blue have the best goalkeeper in Major League Soccer. Sunusi Ibrahim set up a perfect feed for Lassi Lappalainen to get the Montreal playmaker 1v1 against the Union’s shot stopper but Blake made the difficult seem easy with the reaction stop.
As has been the case for Philly throughout their unbeaten streak, key defensive plays gave that little bit of extra energy and a goal soon followed. Harriel recovered a Union pass outside the box and quickly turned to feed Carranza toward the end line. With a goal to his account, the forward went for the brace which forced a low save by Montreal’s James Pantemis. The keeper made the initial save but the rebound fell into the path of Uhre who ripped the rebound into the back of the net for a 2-0 lead.
With a Canadian Championship Final on Wednesday night for CF Montreal, the visitors made a trio of changes with Joel Waterman, Mason Toye and Matko Miljevic coming on has halftime substitutes.
Despite facing a trio of players with fresh legs, the Union still looked the fresher side as they continued to push for another goal and did at the hour mark. Real sent a pass forward to the boots of Flach in the attacking third of the pitch. Seeing the both Carranza and Gazdag both as options outside the box, the midfielder set things in motion with the Union forward tipping the pass right to Gazdag. As the Montreal center back stepped to mark the Hungarian, he quickly got it right back to Carranza who didn’t think twice about ripping a shot from distance. There was some Philly magic in the shot as it deflected off a pair of defenders and into the back of the net to give King Julian his fourth multi-goal performance of 2023.
As Curtin had hinted at in his pre-game presser on Friday he turned to his loaded roster of substitutes with Damion Lowe and Jose Martinez entering just after the Union made it 3-0. With Subaru Park channeling a playoff-like atmosphere, Carranza nearly bagged the hat trick as he got a one-timer inside the box that went over the bar and into the River End.
In the 70th minute as all of Subaru Park did the famous Sha-la-la chant, the Boys in Blue sought another goal for the Union faithful with a long spell of possession presenting the opportunity for a Harriel shot from outside the box that forced a diving stop by the keeper.
Philadelphia Union is back on the road next weekend as they make the cross-country trip west for a showdown against the San Jose Earthquakes on Saturday, June 10th. Kick off from California is set for 10:30PM ET with the match available to fans on MLS Season Pass on Apple TV.