Jamiro Monteiro returned to the starting lineup and new striker Davo made the bench but a Homegrown stole the show on Saturday night.
After Montreal took the lead in the final moments of the first half, Quinn Sullivan strode into the spotlight in the second frame and cracked the equalizer into the top corner in the 87th minute.
The Union found themselves walking a tight rope early in the contest against CF Montreal with Olivier Mbaizo and Jamiro Monteiro entering the referee’s book in the first six minutes. The Boys in Blue weathered an early storm from the Canadian side and found their rhythm with the game’s first scoring opportunity coming in the 15th minute off a corner kick. Kai Wagner began the sequence but his ball in was partially cleared and chased down by Monteiro. He quickly sent a pass wide to Wagner for a second cross that connected with Sergio Santos’ head but the Brazilian’s shot was just over the Montreal goal.
With Santos and Burke on the field, the Union’s attack was simple but effective: Utilize the pace of their strikers and put the Montreal’s defensive trio on the back foot. That back-to-front ideology was put to use in the 17th minute when Jack Elliott sent a long clearance from the Union’s 18-yard-box over midfield and into the path of Santos. With reinforcements on the way, Santos connected with Leon Flach but the midfielder’s threaded ball into the box intended for Burke was cut off by a goal-saving tackle from Montreal.
Moments later, Daniel Gazdag forced a turnover and sent a hard pass to Burke who backed down his man before turning and sending a hard shot over the goal.
The Union’s dominance of the first half continued with back to back corner chances beginning in the 37th minute when Jakob Glesnes backheeled a cross from Wagner slightly over the head of Santos’ impressive leap. The Boys in Blue employed a play from the training ground on their next attempt with Monteiro and Wagner quickly picking out Gazdag open inside the box but the attacker’s shot went high.
The opening goal would come in the first half, however it was the visitors that finally tucked one home. Forcing a Union turnover, Montreal quickly found playmaker Joaquin Torres on the flank. The Argentinian doubled back after the initial attack fizzled and he picked out a run from the edge of the box by Djordje Mihailovic. The young American left his feet and tipped the cross just past Blake.
It was clear that only one side would be pushing the pace in the early going of the second half. As had become standard, Philly swept through the Montreal defense in the 50th minute only to see the final ball across the box from Kai Wagner slide just behind Burke’s run.
In the 57th minute, Alejandro Bedoya replaced Cory Burke to give Philly more control of the ball in the attacking third. Gazdag shifted into a deep striker role and Monteiro stepped in as the point of the midfield diamond.
Montreal responded with a dangerous flicked header off a corner kick before Philly’s own corner routine nearly ended in disaster as Wagner’s loose touch led to a 3v3 counterattack.
The 63rd minute saw Philly attacking up the left once again, and Leon Flach’s finessed cross was boosted toward the far netting by Santos but slid wide once again.
The pressure was building and the entire stadium could feel it. Bedoya was pulling defenders away from the touchline and Mbaizo loped forward to create a 1v1 for himself on the right. A shimmy opened room for a low cross that Gazdag tagged at goal only to see the attempted smothered under a mass of bodies.
Kacper Przybylko and Jack McGlynn joined the fray as Curtin recognized Montreal’s retreat into a defensive shell required the introduction of his top finisher and one of the best passers in the American youth system.
The 76th minute saw Sergio Santos continue his assault on the Canadian back line as the striker sprinted onto a long bouncer and knocked it free from Breza, only to see it roll jut ahead of him over the endline.
From the sideline, Curtin decided to test the mettle of his young bench. Quinn Sullivan’s number was called as Mbaizo bowed out and Bedoya shifted to right back.
It was an inspired move.
Moments later, Sullivan joined his teammates in the box as they awaited a cross from the left. Seeing a gap at the top of the box, the Homegrown rotated, and waited. Wagner’s ball into the mixer fell to Elliott and the center back showed off nimble feet to work it back to Sullivan.
First touch, eyes up, dinger.
Breza didn’t move; he didn’t have the time. Sullivan got all of the ball and rifled it into the top right corner before leaping into Przybylko’s waiting arms.
Philly wanted three points, but after suffocating Montreal throughout the half, they had the minimum deserved.
After a hectic two-match week the Boys in Blue will have some time to rest up before hitting the road for a rivalry showdown against D.C. United on Saturday, August 28. Kick off from the nation’s capital is set for 8 p.m. ET and can be seen on PHL17 and PhiladelphiaUnion.com. And be sure to catch Kai Wagner and Andre Blake in the 2021 MLS All-Star game on Wednesday, August 25 in Los Angeles.