Philadelphia Union kicked off this Eastern Conference clash looking to unleash their quick-strike offense against CF Montreal which they knocked off earlier this year. That threat was in the mind of goalkeeper Sebastian Breza as he raced off his line twice in the opening minutes to punch clear a pair of Union chances.
The back to front attack came alive in the fourth minute as Kai Wagner connected with Mikael Uhre with a long volley. The Dane dribbled into the box and sent a hard cross to Julian Carranza who saw his lay-off pass to Daniel Gazdag intercepted just before a shot could be taken.
Eight minutes later it was Gazdag pulling the strings in Montreal’s final third. Looking to capitalize off a turnover, the Hungarian raced into space, pulling a pair of defenders with him. Seeing the open space to his left, Gazdag dropped a pass to Leon Flach who sent a difficult cross through the red zone searching for Uhre.
Goal | Carranza opens the scoring from the PK spot
The Union didn’t hang their heads and continued to test Montreal’s transitional defense and were rewarded in the 19th minute. Uhre provided the pressure near the halfway line with Wagner and forced a turnover that sent the Union onto the hunt. He quickly got Gazdag into the attack and once again the midfielder got the full attention of the Canadian defense. Gazdag made the selfless play, trying to play Carranza in on goal. Montreal’s Kamal Miller reacted late, taking down the Argentinian that had the referee quickly point to the PK spot. The 21-year-old finished off the play with a smooth finish in the 21st minute to get Subaru Park rocking.
Montreal turned up the pressure following the goal but the Union defense stook strong to take the one-goal lead into the locker room. Goalkeeper Andre Blake made a difficult save look easy in the 30th minute, blocking a Ismaël Koné shot from 25 yards out to keep the lead.
Save | Blake blocks the skipped shot
CF Montreal Head Coach Wilfried Nancy sought to turn the match with the halftime injection of forward Kei Kamara to pair with Romell Quioto up top. The idea was a keen one as the 37-year-old had scored seven times against the Boys in Blue, the most by an opposing player against the Union. In the 59th minute, Kamara notched his eighth against the Union by finishing off a cross from Quioto that snuck past Blake.
After surrendering the lead, the Union were quickly back on the front foot with Gazdag and Uhre leading the way. The duo combined in the 61st minute but Montreal’s Joel Waterman was issued a yellow card for a hard tackle on Uhre just outside the box. Gazdag had a go on the free kick opportunity but sent it just over the crossbar.
In the 67th minute, Curtin employed his first subs of the contest with homegrown Jack McGlynn and Cory Burke coming in after strong shifts from Flach and Carranza. The change saw Montreal deepen their defensive presence, forcing the Union to try and beat them with long balls over the three back system.
Burke’s pace was put to use immediately, tracking down a pair of long ball volleys from the Union defense. In the 81st, Wagner connected with Uhre in the final third but a timely tackle from Victor Wanyama saw the play come to an end.
Philadelphia Union is back in action next weekend as they head to Nashville SC on Sunday, May 1st. The match sees the two sides square off for the first time since their penalty kick showdown in the Eastern Conference Semifinals that the Union won behind clutch saves from Andre Blake. The contest will also mark the grand opening of GEODIS Park, the new home of Nashville SC. Fans can watch the match on ESPN and ESPN Deportes at 4 p.m. ET on Sunday, May 1st.