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Another Step Back: Union concede late in draw with Montreal

A late goal from Matteo Mancosu denied the Union breathing room in a tight Eastern Conference playoff race.

Trey Madara / Brotherly Game

The Philadelphia Union and the Montreal Impact finished all square in a key Eastern Conference playoff match-up on Saturday night. Both halves were bookended with goals, as Tranquillo Barnetta tallied in the 45th and Matteo Mancosu evened it up in the 88th minute.

Montreal had the better of the chances early on, but they couldn't make the Union pay. Lucas Ontivero failed to redirect a Matteo Mancosu cross past Andre Blake in the 7th minute, and Patrice Bernier couldn't connect with a hard-hit cross from Ignacio Piatti two minutes later.

After running onto a ball in the box in the 26th minute, CJ Sapong had a chance to put his side ahead. He dwelled on the ball for just a bit too long, though, and Laurent Ciman recovered to knock the ball out of play.

Montreal's Matteo Mancosu had an opportunity of his own just minutes later, but Andre Blake came off his line to deny him.

Tranquillo Barnetta broke the deadlock just before halftime. With his momentum pulling him to the far post as he ran across the top of the box, Barnetta closed his body quickly and cracked a shot to the near post, beating Eric Kronberg. The goal was his fifth of the season, and his second in the last three games.

The Union were denied a penalty in the 58th minute, when Impact midfielder Marco Donadel bowled over Fabian Herbers in the box. Referee Armando Villarreal's whistle stayed silent, as it did much of the night.

In the 62nd, Mancosu had another chance to get one by Blake, but he was no more successful this time.

With his sixth and final shot, Mancosu finally got his goal. Following a corner, the big Italian forward got his head on a flick-on from Donny Toia. Warren Creavalle had an opportunity to clear the ball, but he didn't have the best angle on it and unfortunately decided to let it run.

Thanks to Mancosu's late equalizer, the Union are still winless (0-3-2) against Canadian teams this season. In the Eastern Conference, they sit in fourth place, just three points ahead of Montreal. Despite their currently comfortable position, other teams will be able to make up ground as they play out their games in hand.

Notes:

  • Montreal's center-back pairing of Laurent Ciman and Hassoun Camara absolutely dominated CJ Sapong on Saturday night. The forward was limited to one shot, a long-range effort from 50 yards out that flew over the crossbar. On his best scoring chance of the game, Sapong didn't even manage to send the ball goalward as Ciman swooped in deny him a shot. Sapong has only managed five shots in his last six games. He has to heat up if the Union have any intention of getting past the first round of the playoffs.
  • On the bright side of things, Warren Creavalle put in a complete performance with Brian Carroll and Maurice Edu still working their way back to full health. Playing as the more withdrawn of the two center midfielders, Creavalle put in a ton of work defensively. As adept as he is at running down the ball, Creavalle can get caught up too high on occasion, but that wasn't the case today. In addition to playing well off the ball, Creavalle's distribution was even better than Designated Player and central midfield partner Alejandro Bedoya's. Creavalle is an average player, but he can put together very complete games like this on occasion.
  • The Union have a tough three-game stretch ahead of them, as they'll take on the Portland Timbers, Toronto FC, and the New York Red Bulls all on the road.

Post-match Press Conference