Alejandro Bedoya and Daniel Gazdag showed quick feet in tight spaces as they scored three minutes apart to lead the Philadelphia Union to a 2-1 come-from-behind win at CF Montreal. Julian Carranza set up Gazdag’s goal before receiving a second yellow card just after new Designated Player Mikael Uhre entered the match.
Jim Curtin handed homegrown right back Nathan Harriel his first start of the year and added Sergio Santos to the lineup in place of Cory Burke in the club’s second match of 2022.
Philadelphia Union deployed its high press system straight from the opening whistle, putting the Canadian side under intense pressure on their unpredictable temporary home turf. The fast-paced defense led to chaotic soccer with both sides playing quick passes through the midfield.
CF Montreal fired the first shot of the contest that was no trouble for two-time MLS Goalkeeper of the Year Andre Blake as he caught a long-range effort from Joaquín Torres. The Union’s press led to chances moments later as Sergio Santos and Julian Carranza combined for a one-two chance that forced a difficult save from the keeper three minutes later.
Chance | Carranza nearly bags his first goal
With the Union dominated the run of play, it was CF Montreal making the most against the Union with a deflected goal in the 32nd minute. Ismael Kone led the counter attack for Montreal, racing into the box and finding Lassi Lappalainen to his left. Tightly marked by a defender, the midfielder floated a shot that skipped off a Union boot and somehow into the upper 90.
As the clock ticked up to the halftime whistle, the home side nearly doubled its lead but were turned away by Blake once more. With a play off the training ground, Djordje Mihailovic send a quick pass to his right to an awaiting Torres at the edge of the Union’s 18-yard-box. Going for a golazo with a right-footed blast, Blake read it perfectly to fly through the air to keep the deficit at just one goal going into the break.
Save | Blake gets up to deny MTL
Montreal continued to push the Union central and leave space on the wings, collapsing whenever Philly came inside. In the 50th minute, that strategy nearly paid off when Mihailovic knocked over Julian Carranza in the center circle and broke through the middle to slot home past Andre Blake. After initially awarding the goal, referee Drew Fischer went to the VAR monitor and called the play back and awarded the foul on Mihailovic.
That call proved pivotal as Philly finally turned their frustration into aggression. Persistence from Santos and Gazdag in the Montreal box nearly put the Hungarian through. But when the ball popped loose, Santos and Bedoya counterpressed until Bedoya could regain possession smack the ball into the net with his left foot to even the scoreline.
Goal | Bedoya ties it up at MTL
Three minutes later, the halftime scoreline was completely flipped by a silky connection between Carranza and Gazdag. Streaking up the left channel, Carranza put a low cutback into a tight space but Gazdag’s first touch was perfect, and he dug the ball out of his feet to tuck it home.
Goal | Gazdag's puts the Union up 2-1
A chaotic period followed, with Montreal more dedicated to attacking up the Union right and Philly sensing weakness when they could quickly stretch the pitch vertically. Sergio Santos became a one-man wrecking crew up front as Jim Curtin asked him to chase the defense relentlessly.
In the 68th minute, Santos made way for new signing Mikael Uhre. The Danish striker, Philly’s record signing, was immediately thrown into the action as he chased a deep free kick to the back post.
Montreal’s next opportunity came from a cutback off the right that found the head of ageless poacher Kei Kamara.
In the 71st minute, Carranza received a second yellow card when he arrived late to a tackle. Jim Curtin responded by pulling off Gazdag and dropping Olivier Mbaizo into midfield on the right. Bedoya dropped in alongside Martinez to form a deep pairing that let Mbaizo and Flach attack through the midfield channels and supporting Uhre.
The Dane broke up the right but the ball wouldn’t settle and he lashed it into the side netting.
Chance | Uhre nearly gets a debut goal
The home side’s response came up the right, with Kamal Miller sneaking behind Harriel to head a beautiful cross wide of target. Alone up top, Uhre was tenacious challenging in the air, understanding that his role was less about attacking than defending from the front. After Quinn Sullivan replaced Bedoya in the 87th minute, Flach stepped into the center and let the homegrown midfielder push in front of him.
Sullivan was the most energetic player on the pitch when Uhre turned his man and broke free from the halfway line. With Montreal in pursuit, Uhre couldn’t find Sullivan in the center and fired a low shot on frame that Sebastian Breza turned away.
Although the home side pushed continuously for an equalizer, the Union front five outworked them and forced chances to come through angled crosses to the back post. In the final minutes, with Breza playing as a sweeper, Philly was still pressing and trapping in the channels to close out the game.
The Boys in Blue are back at home next weekend with they host the San Jose Earthquakes on Saturday, March 12th. Fans won’t want to miss the Saturday night showdown as Mikael Uhre could make his Subaru Park debut. The contest will also be the Union’s lone home appearance for the entire month March so be sure to get your tickets for match by clicking here. Kick off is set for 7:30 p.m. ET with coverage on both PHL17 and PhiladelphiaUnion.com.