Four unanswered goals from the Montreal Impact erased an early lead for the Philadelphia Union in a 4-1 loss on a humid Saturday night in Chester that tightened the playoff race in the Eastern Conference.
“A bad night all around. A lot of things we did real positive over the past six matches we did not do tonight,” Philadelphia Union head coach Jim Curtin said after the match. “We gave a quality team too much time, too much space and they punished us for it.”
The Impact nearly opened the scoring in the sixth minute when defender Bacary Sagna found the dangerous Ignacio Piatti inside the box, but Piatti skied the one-timer deep into The River End.
Despite the excellent early opportunity for Montreal, it would be the Union’s young star centerback Auston Trusty that broke the scoreless match early on. In the 11th minute, the Media native collected his first career goal off a corner kick delivered with precision from Borek Dockal. The assist put Dockal alone at the top of the MLS scoring charts with 15 assists.
Trusty showed his prowess as the rock in the Union backline a few minutes later with an excellent one-on-one tackle on Impact forward Quincy Amarikwa. However, as the Union have learned way too many times, if Piatti is given space with the ball, he is going to burn you. In the 28th minute, a bad pass from Ray Gaddis in the offensive half led to a quick break where Piatti found a streaking Alejandro Silva with a perfect through ball to send the winger through. Silva did well to beat a closing-down Andre Blake to the ball and slid it past the Union keeper to tie the match at one.
It would be only a little over ten minutes later when Montreal added a second to take the lead on the cusp of halftime. In the 39th minute, Amarikwa on top of the box hit a low driving powerful shot that was parried away with a great save by Blake. But with the ball still inside the six-yard box, Impact midfielder Saphir Taider hustled to the loose ball inside the box to beat a recovering Blake to give Montreal the lead going into halftime.
The Impact continued to hammer the Union on the counter in the second half. In the 63rd minute, Montreal would add a decisive third goal when Impact centerback Daniel Lovitz, of Wyndmoor,Pa., hit a low-cross from the end line that trickled across the goal mouth, where Amarikwa was waiting to tap it into the net to seal the victory.
Silva would add his second goal of the night, in the 76th minute, off another Piatti counterattack that left Union left back Ray Gaddis fending for himself against the duo with Silva coolly chipping it to the left of the encroaching Blake.
Beyond all doubt, the best player on the field was Montreal’s Piatti, who seemingly had some hand in starting every single counter for Montreal. Even though the Union were the hot team coming into the match, the Impact were comfortable in sitting back, waiting for a mistake from the Union and punishing them.
With the win, the Impact move within one point of the Union for fifth place in the Eastern Conference with five games left to play. The Union are six points clear of seventh place, D.C. United, who does have a game in hand.
The Union now will have a Wednesday-Sunday-Wednesday in the next week, where they will have to go on the road to Seattle Wednesday, return home to take on Western Conference second place Sporting Kansas City, and then travel to Houston to take on the Dynamo for the final of the Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup.