Faced with the adversity of playing in the rain, the adversity of playing on short rest, and the adversity of playing a team also at the top of the Eastern Conference Standings, the Union managed a come from behind 1-1 draw early Saturday evening at Stade Saputo in Montreal.
Despite the overall performance being sound for the bulk of the match, the Union got off to what Peter Pappas kindly described as an "atrocious" start. A 3rd minute Montreal Impact corner went awry for the Union as C.J. Sapong's attempt at a clearance went directly to the foot of an unmarked Didier Drogba. Drogba did as Drogba does and elevated the ball past a helpless Andre Blake and into the net for an early opening goal.
And while the Union would somehow avoid conceding again in the half, Montreal's avalanche was not done yet. Ignacio Piatti deked Josh Yaro into another dimension, paving the way for a shot that ricocheted off the woodwork and away from danger. Then four minutes later, Piatti again had yet another point blank chance but this time Blake was up to the task of stopping the danger and keeping the Union deficit at 1.
But the Union succeeded in settling down and building back up their rhythm after Montreal sliced and diced them for the first ten minutes of the match. The Union began getting sustained periods of possession and had been working on building something when finally things broke their way in the 24th minute. Tranquillo Barnetta played Chris Pontius through. Pontius then sent a cross in to Sebastien Le Toux and while Le Toux may have been eager to have a go at goal, he directed it to Sapong in front of goal instead. Sapong took the easy tap-in for the goal, redeeming himself in the minds of fans following his early gaffe and capping off a gorgeous team goal. Sapong's tap-in evened the score at 1-1 and put the Union back in position to gain at least a point out of this critical Eastern Conference match they played on short rest.
Part of the Union's success this season has been courtesy of their goalkeeping. The Union have finally found a solid, consistent presence in goal in the form of Andre Blake, and he continued to leave a positive impression on Union fans tonight against Montreal. Faced with a point blank shot from striker extraordinaire Drogba, Blake stood tall and parried it away, keeping the score knotted at 1 and the Union in the match.
The Union continued to hold steady in the second half against a good Impact team, though Montreal's attack force became weakened by the injury to and later forced substitution of Drogba. For the Union's behalf, their final two substitutions in of Brian Carroll on for Vincent Nogueira and Roland Alberg on for Tranquillo Barnetta were indicative of a team content to settle for a the road draw. Which given the fact that the Union were playing a rainy road game on short rest playing a team on a full rest, that's okay. And though the Union's rhythm seemed to break down following their substitutions, Montreal never really came particularly close to grabbing a game-winner, either, so no harm no foul there.
Up next for the Union they will return to Talen Energy Stadium where they will play host to D.C. United. Following a series of draws against formidable competition, the Union will be hoping to grab all three points at home against United.