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Things we learned from the Union’s win in Montreal

The Union saw a contested three points go their way on Saturday. Here are some takeaways from the match.

Philadelphia Union v CF Montreal Photo by Minas Panagiotakis/Getty Images

Two games in, four points down. The Philadelphia Union got their first win of the season in a battle with the Montreal Impact (ugh fine, Club de Foot Montreal) in a 2-1 match Saturday night.

The Union looked fine for their second performance, but there were definitely some mishaps. Let’s break that the good, bad and goofy from Saturday night’s game.

Staying focused, playing through the whistle

Montreal’s best chance of the night wasn’t a goal, but it was most certainly frustrating for Union fans. Djorde Mihailovic’s dash down the field to score on Andre Blake was discounted posthumously after a review of a foul against Julian Carranza, but it showcased a huge Union weakness.

Mihailovic was able to make his way down the entirety of the Union’s defensive half without being adequately challenged for the ball by a single Union defender. Each player on the team looked to be (rightfully so) waiting for the call for Carranza, but didn’t consider Mihailovic running down the pitch. As a result, Mihailovic, who started the run with five defenders in front of him, didn’t have a single man in front of him several steps before he took his shot.

Most of the blame here falls upon Jose Martinez and Jack Elliott. Martinez had the first good look at Mihailovic, and simply let Mihailovic run by him. Elliott was several paces ahead of Mihailovic, but looked like he expected Jakob Glesnes to make a play for the ball, despite the fact that Glesnes was trying to mark Kei Kamara.

The Union is lucky that they didn’t suffer a goal there, but it’s disappointing to see one of MLS’s best defensive duos in Glesnes and Elliott fail at the simple task of communication en route to conceding what would have been a critical goal.

Julian Carranza, a piece to the puzzle

Julian Carranza was never meant to be Ernst Tanner’s gem signing of the 2022 offseason. Mikael Uhre, who had a strong performance himself in the last third of the match, was always meant to be the Union’s number one man. All the same, Carranza looked spectacular in his second game in a Union jersey.

The former Inter Miami man was all over the field on Saturday afternoon. Carranza finished the game with .5 xG (compared to .1 xG last match), two shots, and the game-winning assist in a perfectly placed ball to Daniel Gazdag.

Carranza’s ejection is frustrating, especially based on the seemingly weak primary yellow card that contributed to his sending off. All the same, the 71 minutes that Carranza played showed Union fans enough.

Mikael Uhre will be a good striker. But the Union most likely won’t play a lone striker system, and they’ll want a second man up top to contribute. Julian Carranza has shown so far he most certainly can be that man.

Credit where credit is due

If the Union spends their whole season playing as they did on Saturday, then it’s a long haul for Philadelphia soccer fans. The team’s performance was ugly and simply not enjoyable to watch. They struggled to control the ball on the pitch, gave the ball away on poor passes, and for much of the game seemed to be on their heels. But as they say, three points is three points.

The Union was playing on an awkward surface that made my dorm room carpet look luxurious. They traveled to Canada to play a team that is in the Concacaf Champions League (though, the jury is still out on if Montreal is a good squad.) And most of all, they are in early season form. The lineup wasn’t what it was supposed to be a week ago, and the team has plenty of time in the season left to gel. Let it happen.

The Union has never been a team to start the season quick, and the fact that they have four points after two games is something to brag about. They will finish the season as one of the best teams in Major League Soccer. Give them time. Better play will come.