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Monday Morning Game Changers: Canadian Edition

Union battled Eastern-Conference-leading Montreal Impact to a 1-1 draw at Stade Saputo. Here are the major talk-points of Saturday's match, eh.

Jean-Yves Ahern-USA TODAY Sports

1). The short week: Philadelphia Union hosted LA Galaxy this past Wednesday, while Montreal Impact did not play during the week. Jim Curtin only made two changes in his starting XI from the previous match, and Union's ability to play high-press was affected by it. One of the differences in the starting lineup was at left back, where Ray Gaddis started in place of Fabinho. Ray is a really good athlete, but when he gets himself into the final third, his lack of quality is glaring. He doesn't have Fabi's passing vision or crossing ability, as Fabi can cross from that left wing with his left foot, and Ray has to cut it back to his right foot. Gaddis also doesn't seem confident in where to pass the ball, so forward progressions stall at his feet.

2). A lapse in set-piece marking: It's never a good idea to leave an opposing player unmarked inside of the 18 during a corner kick. It's a worse idea to leave the opposition's striker unmarked in said position. It's a brutally terrible and unforgivable offense to leave unmarked a striker of Didier Drogba's quality. Montreal had a corner kick from the Union's defensive left side, which was met first by the head of CJ Sapong. Sapong's touch, however, resembled something he would do for his own offense, as he gently cushioned it down. It became an unfortunately good assist to the Chelsea FC legend, who made no mistake on his second-touch strike into the far-side upper corner for the lone Impact goal.

3). Hip injuries: Not hip as in being popular, but referring to the top of the leg. Both Richie Marquez and Didier Drogba incurred injuries to their hips during Saturday's tilt. Marquez picked his up late in the first half. He struggled to make it to halftime, and Ken Tribbett was warming up in preparation to replace him. But he managed to persevere until the midway whistle and was an important factor in the second half.  here were a couple of sliding tackles that took the ball away from Dominic Oduro which prevented Andre Blake from being 1-on-1. A play involving Marquez became the last bit of action for Drogba. The Ivorian picked up his knock during the second half, and was clearly laboring. He walked off the pitch to receive treatment under his own power while the ball was still in play, indicating his belief the injury was serious.  He returned to play, but was clearly limited. He made one final attempt at breaking the deadlock when he leaped in the air over Richie Marquez, but his header went wide of the goal frame. Almost immediately upon landing, his limp became more pronounced, and he swirled his index fingers in the end-over-end rotation that is the internationally-recognized symbol for "I need to be substituted for." His departure took much of the danger out of the Montreal side.

4). Replacements for the replacements: Jim Curtin's starting sides are playing attractive, aggressive, and cohesive soccer, and have been all season. The 67th minute saw Curtin bring rookie Fabian Herbers in for Chris Pontius. Herbers is a striker like Sapong, but CJ is also capable of playing left wing, so he went there to replace Pontius's spot in the formation. Neither one was nearly as effective as the prior occupant. Herbers's appearances have all been as a substitute, and the 24 minutes he played Saturday were the most he has played in an MLS match, but he continued to look lost. Not only does he seem to not no where his teammates want him to be to receive passes, his teammates don't seem to have any idea where he'll be, so it slows all offensive progress down.  A substitute to a wide midfield position should have fresh legs, not someone who's already been on the pitch for 66 of them.  Union looked capable of finding a winning goal up until the point that Curtin altered his personnel.