Alejandro Bedoya and Daniel Gazdag scored minutes apart in the second half to lead Philadelphia Union to a 2-1 win over CF Montréal at Stade Olympique Saturday afternoon. Down 1-0, the Union rallied minutes after a disallowed CF Montréal goal to score twice in a four-minute span, then survived the final twenty minutes after Julian Carranza’s second yellow to earn their first win of the 2022 season. The win was the Union’s second on the road in 15 games and the first since beating Cincinnati FC last October.
For the second week in a row, the Union were stammered by another slow start and failed to capitalize on Montréal’s reluctance to push the game. The Canadian Champions, playing without leading scorer Romel Quioto, who was dismissed in the season opener against Orlando City, held back in the opening minutes with an upcoming CCL quarterfinal against Liga MX Clausura champions Cruz Azul on Wednesday. The Union were also limited by the rough turf, reminiscent of the NASL days where passes bounced high off ground and the ball stuck in players’ feet.
The Union gained momentum in the middle stages of the first half, establishing a higher press with newcomer Carranza and Sergio Santos adding a physical presence against Montréal’s experienced back four. Carranza had the best chance in the opening fifteen minutes after running onto a long ball deep in Montréal territory, but his waist-high strike was pushed away by Sebastian Breza. Carranza helped the Union gain some possession in the attacking third, holding the ball up while dropping into midfield, which resulted in him being the target of several tackles from behind, drawing cautions from Ismaël Koné and captain Victor Wanyama. Other than Carranza’s shot, the Union’s best attempts in the first half stemmed from two Kai Wagner free kicks from distance that failed to find their targets and another from Daniel Gazdag that missed Glesnes’ head by inches.
Montréal scored the first goal in the 32’ when Lassi Lappalainen’s shot deflected off Nathan Harriel, looped over Andre Blake’s head, and bounced into the far corner of the net. Kone, against the run of play, received a through-ball at the top of the box and found time to slip it across to Lappalainen, who took it first time. Harriel, making his third MLS start, replaced Olivier Mbaizo, whose mistake led to Minnesota’s goal last week. Caught out of position, Harriel’s challenge arrived late but the young Homegrown suffered an unlucky result.
The action in the second half picked up five minutes in, and the Union were fortunate not to fall behind 2-0 when Djordje Mihailovic dribbled through four defenders and tucked the ball under Blake’s diving right hand. But the goal was called back after a VAR check for a foul on Carranza, which led to Mihailovic’s break.
Two minutes later, Bedoya scored the equalizer after a scramble at the top of the box. The Union worked a combination through the top of the box until Gazdag was stripped, but Sergio Santos forced the ball into a Bedoya tackle, and the Union captain made no mistake, slotting the ball home with his left foot shot that curled beyond Breza’s reach into the corner.
The Union doubled their lead three minutes later when Gazdag scored on one of his rare touches of the game in the final third. Wagner found time wide and picked out a streaking Caranza, who took the ball off his chest and slid it across the goalmouth to Gazdag. The Union midfielder took one touch off the bounce with his right foot and slid the ball past Breza with his left. Gazdag’s goal was his first of the season.
Sitting with a comfortable 2-1 lead, the Union thwarted a couple Montréal chances with strong defensive challenges and a Blake fingertip save, but the Union added unnecessary drama to the game when Carranza took a second yellow for a late challenge on Zachary Brault-Gillard in the 70’. Shifting to an even more defensive-minded lineup, Union coach Jim Curtin swapped Mbaizo for Gazdag and shifted into a 5-3-1 with new DP signing Mikael Uhre left to work on his own minutes after making his team debut.
Uhre had his first shot after getting in behind the Montréal defense, but his low volley hit the side netting inches outside the near post. Kamal Miller crept beyond Mbaizo and missed a free header in the 81’ that could have tied the game at two. Uhre almost scored his first late, but Breza stopped his narrow angle breakaway, and the Union withstood late Montréal pressure to secure three vital road points against a potential playoff team.
The Union will return home to play Jamiro Monteiro’s San Jose Earthquakes next Saturday at Subaru Park.
MTL: Lappalainen 32’
PHI: Bedoya 53’
PHI: Gazdag 56’
PHL: Carranza 71’
MTL: Kone 20’
MTL: Wanyama 23’
PHI: Carranza 64’, 71’
MTL: Zouhir 67’
Union: Blake, Harriel, Glesnes, Elliott, Wagner, Martinez, Bedoya (Sullivan 87’), Flach, Gazdag (Mbaizo 75’), Carranza, Santos (Uhre 67’)
Unused subs: Freese, Findlay, Real, Bueno, McGlynn, Aaronson
FC Montréal: Breza, Johnston, Wanyama, Camacho, Miller (Bassong 81’), Koné (Zouhir 65’), Torres, Mihailovic, Choinière (Brault-Guillard 65’), Lappalainen (Miljevic 90+ 2), Kamara
Unused subs: Ketterer, Pantemis, Thorkelsson, Corbo, Waterman, Miljevic