Kacper Przybylko took advantage of Romell Quioto’s first half red card as he scored two goals on either side of the half to lead the Philadelphia Union to a 4-1 win over the Montreal Impact Sunday night at Red Bull Arena.
Alejandro Bedoya and Anthony Fontana also scored as the Union wore down a fatigued Impact team playing their third game in eight days. With the win, the Union return to second place in the Eastern Conference, still three points behind the Columbus Crew. The Union have now won five of their last six games.
Thierry Henry returned to Red Bull Arena where he scored 52 goals in his five seasons following a prolific career with Arsenal, Barcelona, and the France national team. The Impact were looking to bounce back from their 3-1 loss to Vancouver on Wednesday night in which they failed to clinch a spot in the Canadian Championship after a 37th minute Rudy Camacho red card also forced them to play shorthanded for most of the game.
The Impact started a majority of their lineup from Wednesday’s game with leading scorer Romell Quioto playing up top in front of Algerian international Saphir Taïder. Premier League veteran and Kenyan captain Victor Wanyama started in central midfield alongside Canadian international Samuel Piette.
The Union made numerous changes with Kai Wagner and Jack Elliott still out due to injuries. Sergio Santos, Ray Gaddis, and Ilsinho began on the bench as well. Jose Martinez was also out due to yellow card suspension, which meant Union coach Jim Curtin had to lean on his youth again with Olivier Mbaizo and Matt Real starting as the outside backs. Warren Creavalle started for Martinez in central midfield.
Montreal opened the scoring in the 5th minute when Romell Quioto’s free kick passed through the Union wall. The free kick originated from a Union giveaway 35 yards from their own goal, which resulted in a phantom foul on Quioto after he fell to the ground and took out Mark McKenzie. The goal was Quioto’s sixth goal of the season.
The game changed dramatically nearly 10 minutes later when Quioto was sent off after throwing a forearm to McKenzie’s head. The referee initially gave Quioto a yellow card, but the decision was overturned through VAR. Quioto’s red was the Impact’s third straight game with a red card.
The Union leveled in the 22nd minute after a long cross from Matt Real bounced off Andrew Wooten’s thigh and fell to Alejandro Bedoya, who buried the ball inside the near post from close range. The goal was Bedoya’s second of the season. The Union gained more of the game’s possession up a man following the equalizer but were plagued by sloppy passing that resulted in a few turnovers that Montreal could not convert. The Union managed a couple chances in short succession before the break, one of them a heading sequence off a corner that ended with Przybylko’s header being nicked by McKenzie over the bar.
Philadelphia took the lead late in first half stoppage time when Przybylko headed home Matt Real’s cross. Real sent a deep bending ball to the far post over Impact keeper Clément Diop that Przybylko ran onto and nodded home.
Anthony Fontana, Wednesday night’s hero, came in for Creavalle at half time, and the Union jumped on the Impact at the start of the half, pushing their lead to 3-1 two minutes in when Przybylko finished off Brendan Aaronson’s cross. McKenzie sprang Aaronson free down the left side with a perfectly weighted ball that Aaronson took in stride. Aaronson pushed the ball across the goal to Przybylko, who needed a touch but easily stuck it past two Impact defenders into the net. Przybylko’s second was his club leading 7th of the season.
Up a man, the Union looked more in control of the game in the second half, content with allowing Montreal to force a response. Fontana nearly made it 4-1 in the 54th minute when Diop pushed away his driven shot that was headed for the top corner. But he found his goal in the 65th minute when he drilled home a pass from McKenzie for his third goal in two games.
Fontana’s goal likely ended the game as the Union dominated possession, creating numerous chances that could have extended their lead. Przybylko had a shot to the bottom corner saved by Diop, and Aaronson had a sitter following a quick combination on the counter, but Diop made a reaction stop with his hand. In the final twenty minutes, the Union held Montreal at arm’s length and almost scored their fifth from late chances by Mbaizo and Ilsinho, eventually seeing out the game to secure their third straight win.
After the game, Union coach Jim Curtin expressed concern for his team’s first half performance as the Impact gave the Union problems even though they were down a man. “At halftime, as a staff, we said there was two positive things, that we were winning 2-1 and that we couldn’t play worse. To the players credit, they responded in the second half and killed the game off pretty quickly.”
Mark McKenzie had another stellar night in center back, but also contributed offensively. Curtin expressed his pleasure in seeing McKenzie emerge as one of the top center backs in the league, praising his two assist performance. “The ball he plays to Brendan, I get excited by. He looks off the defenders and threads that through a window that is incredibly tight.”
McKenzie spoke about his team’s desire to win decisively in the second half, knowing that goal differential could be an important factor. “Tonight, we’re up a man, they’re a little wounded, and now was the time to maximize these opportunities because at the end of the season, these details matter.”
The Union face former teammate Haris Medunjanin when they travel to Cincinnati on Wednesday while the Impact travel to New England to face the Revolution.
MTL: 5’ Quioto
PHL: 22’ Bedoya
PHL: 45’+3 Przybylko
PHL: 47’ Przybylko
PHL: 65’ Fontana
Blake, Mbaizo, Glesnes, McKenzie, Real, Creavalle (Fontana 45’), Bedoya (Turner 87’), Monteiro, Aaronson (de Vries 87’), Wooten (Ilsinho 64’), Przybylko (Santos 72’)
Unused Subs: Bendik, Gaddis, Collin, Ngalina
Diop, Bralt-Guillard, Binks, Waterman (Yao 53’), Raitala, Wanyama, Piette, Bojan (Lappalainen 60’), Taïder, Quioto, Okwonkwo (Corrales 76’)
Unused Subs: Bush, Fanni, Sejdic, Shome, Bayiha