Kei Kamara’s second-half equalizer wiped out Julián Carranza’s first-half penalty as CF Montréal drew 1-1 against the Philadelphia Union Saturday afternoon at Subaru Park.
The Union remain unbeaten against Montréal in six games (3-0-3) and atop the Eastern Conference standings though the result leaves concerns about the team’s late-game prowess. The familiar opponents, who met seven weeks ago, felt each other out in the opening minutes with the Union seeing more of the ball against a Montréal side trying to play straight up while pushing a high line that the Union had trouble breaking. Other than a second minute José Martinez cross deep into the box that put Sebastian Breza on his toes with a diving punch to deny Nathan Harriel, neither side generated any scoring chances in the first ten minutes.
Twelve minutes in, Leon Flach had a golden opportunity on the left side to hit Mikael Uhre in stride inside the box but his cross went behind the Danish striker, who let it run with no one behind. The Union had their first real chance in the 19th minute when Flach’s pressure and Uhre’s tackle resulted in Daniel Gazdag surging into the Montréal final third. Gazdag slid a through-ball that beat a lunging Rudy Camacho and found Carranza, who was leveled by Kamal Miller and left no hesitation by referee Lukasz Szpala to point to the spot. Carranza converted the penalty, sending Breza the wrong way to give the Union a 1-0 lead. The goal was Carranza’s third on the season, equaling his total in two seasons with Inter Miami.
The Union rode the momentum over the next several minutes with Uhre taking a long through-ball off his knee before Montréal pushed back in search of an equalizer. Djordje Mihailovic tested Blake from a tight angle in the 24 th minute and Ismaël Kone forced Blake to redirect a hard bouncing shot wide minutes later. Less than seven minutes remaining in the half, Uhre broke in behind the Montréal defense, sliding a cross that missed Carranza on the doorstep by inches, and Mihailovic pulled a shot wide on the resulting counter. After a fairly even opening forty-five minutes, Carranza’s goal remained the difference.
Montréal made one change at halftime bringing Kamara on for Sunusi Ibrahim, and the MLS All-Star and former top scorer gave Harriel a birthday wish, knocking heads on a challenge inside the box minutes later. Harriel stayed down, which could have signaled the return of Olivier Mbaizo, but the Union Homegrown defender remained in the game. But Kamara’s real damage came fifteen minutes into the half when he met Quioto‘s cross and tapped it past Blake to tie the game at 1-1.
The Union had a great chance to go ahead again in the 61 st minute after Montréal defender Joel Waterman dragged Uhre down just outside the box, earning a caution, but Gazdag’s ensuing free kick sailed over the bar.
Cory Burke replaced Carranza and Jack McGlynn replaced Flach with twenty minutes remaining, and Burke had a look after stepping onto the field when Uhre held the ball up inside the box, but Burke’s shot deflected wide for a throw in. In the 77 th minute, Gazdag picked out Burke with a cross behind the Montréal backline, but Breza came out and snatched it before Burke could knock it home.
The Union searched for a winner in the final fifteen minutes and generated several counters but couldn’t connect, leaving points on the field and a sour taste of early 2021 as they were certainly the better side in an evenly played match but lacked the bite at the end. The Union will head to Nashville next week to begin a grueling stretch on the road against several top-tier MLS opponents.
PHI: Carranza (PK) 21’
MTL: Kamara 59’
PHI: Bedoya 55’
MTL: Waterman 61’
PHI: Martinez 83’
MTL: Miller 90’
PHI: Wagner 90+1’
MTL: Bassong 90+3’
Union: Blake, Harriel, Glesnes, Elliott, Wagner, Martinez, Bedoya, Flach (McGlynn 67’), Gazdag, Uhre (Aaronson 89’), Carranza (Burke 67’)
Unused subs: Freese, Real, Findlay, Mbaizo, Bueno, Sullivan
Montréal: Breza, Waterman, Camacho, Miller, Johnston, Koné (Piette 82’), Wanyama, Lappalainen (Bassong 82’), Mihailovic, Ibrahim (Kamara 46’), Quioto
Unused subs: Pantemis, Brault-Guillard, Corbo, Torres, Miljevic, Hamdi