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U in Review — Matchday 24: Montréal Versus Philadelphia

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The Philadelphia Union were unable to lift the mood on a somber night at Talen Energy Stadium, as they fell 3-0 to the visiting Montreal Impact.

August 12th, 2017. It’s the date that the Philadelphia Union season may very well have ended.

Falling to a club below them in the Eastern Conference standings, a team that has two matches in hand on them while chasing an elusive playoff spot is not the way to back into the playoffs.

The Union stood pat during the Secondary Transfer Window, while several other teams in the Eastern Conference got better. At the whistle, they were beaten handily, after another stand-out performance from the oppositions newest addition.

First Half

Wait. There was a first half played?

Both teams spent the early stages of the match feeling each other out, and while both the Union and the Impact had some early chances, they ultimately failed to take advantage of them.

In the second minute, Matteo Mancosu had a shot that looked a sure goal, but Union shot-stopper, John McCarthy stood tall, and parried the shot away, as he has countless times during Andre Blake’s absence.

CJ Sapong followed Mancosu’s effort up with a chance of his own just a few minutes later, but Montréal’s No. 1, Evan Bush came to the rescue with a spectacular save to keep the score level.

As for scoring chances in the half, well, that was about it. To be fair, both sides were pretty abysmal in the final third, which led to, all in all, a pretty boring first half of soccer.

Worst of all, it was that the Philadelphia Union who were making all the right decisions with the ball, but ultimately, it was their passes that seemed to carry a little too much weight.

Second Half

A half that started similarly to how the first ended.

Talen Energy Stadium (briefly) burst into excitement when Chris Duvall was shown a yellow card for a foul on Union winger, Fafa Picault. After that, it was more of the same, until about the 60th minute of the match.

In the 62nd minute, a bad clearance by the Union’s budding defender, Joshua Yaro, led to a two-on-one situation for Montréal, with Ignacio Piatti and Blerim Dzemali roaring up the pitch toward Giliano Wijnaldum.

Against all odds, Gili played his cards perfectly, forcing the Swiss talisman to have a go. A goal was averted in the end, after Dzemali’s shot was cleaned up by McCarthy in net.

Off of a corner, the Union would fire back with their best opportunity of the match. After a bit of commotion and chaos in the box, the ball fell to the feet of Gili, who ripped his effort off the post.

It was a missed chance that the Union would rue quickly, as Montréal would go up a goal, via none other than Blerim Dzemaili, who signed for the Canadian outfit back in May. Daniel Lovitz fired a ball into the box that after taking a deflection off of Josh Yaro fell to the feet of Dzemaili. It was a chance that he did not miss.

Shortly after Montréal went up, Roland Alberg came on to add some creativity to the attack, but in the end, it wasn’t enough to make a difference for the Union. In the 83rd minute, a second striker, Jay Simpson was called upon, with Jim Curtin desperate to get a much-needed result at home.

Instead, the wheels fell off for the Boys-in-Blue.

Dzemaili drew a penalty after contact from John McCarthy. It was fired home in the 90th minute, which ultimately knocked the wind out of everyone inside the stadium, except the visitors, of course.

Dzemaili doubled his tally late into stoppage time, after he beat Yaro and fired off a beautiful finish to give Montréal their final tally and seal all three points.

It’s a deflating loss for the Union, especially after their impressive dismantling of FC Dallas last week, but they’ll have to regroup quickly to get back in the race (if one still exists).

Man of the Match 

In a team containing Ignacio Piatti, Dzemaili was the lone danger man on the night. Yes, he had the goals to show for, but his performance went far beyond that as he was the key cog in the Impact’s performance on the night.

Next up for the Union is a cross-country road trip to San Jose, California on Saturday to take on the San Jose Earthquakes. Look out for the next U in Preview, which will offer a closer look at the Union’s next match.

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