The starting line-up of CF Montreal announced a difficult match, but with a little more finishing, the result could have been very different.
With one eye on the Canadian Championship final, the Bleu-blanc-noir resisted as best he could before losing 3-0 to the Philadelphia Union on Saturday night at Subaru Park.
The final score is final and the statistics do not lie. The Union dominated the shooting column, 23 against nine, and the shots on target, eight against two, but he still felt the hot soup on a few occasions. And all this against a group of players mostly auditioning.
Against a club that rarely gives away free points at home, CF Montreal head coach Hernan Losada decided to drop eight of his 11 starters in Wednesday night’s draw in Washington.
Losada gave minutes to several different players while resting his regulars, who have been in high demand since the beginning of May and who will face the Whitecaps in Vancouver in the final on Wednesday night.
Quebec goalkeeper James Pantemis notably made his first start since February 25, when he injured his shoulder in the first game of the campaign. Forward Mason Toye returned to action after a two-month absence. Nathan Saliba and Ilias Illiadis have started for the first time since April. Ousman Jabang played his first career minutes in MLS. In short, the evaluations were well and truly under way.
“We gave a lot of minutes to players who haven’t played a lot in the last few weeks, the last few months. We gave opportunities to several players to have a good analysis and to know which players are ready for more minutes and which ones still have things to improve,” said Losada.
Despite everything, his men knocked on the door a few times. Goalkeeper Andre Blake and his defenders had to stay alert because the Montrealers could have gone into the locker room with a lead or at least a tie.
Union’s attacking trio (9-4-3) of Mikael Uhre, Julian Carranza and Daniel Gazdag ruled the roost in enemy territory, however, and were behind the team’s three goals.
Carranza hit the target twice, in addition to missing a golden chance, and Uhre netted the other goal for Union, who have suffered only one loss in their last 31 games in front of their supporters (23-1-7).
“They are good players who know each other well. They always know where they are placed on the field. When you don’t know what they’re up to, but they do, it becomes very difficult to defend. These are players who have great individual qualities, ”observed defender George Campbell.
« It’s always a tough game in Philadelphia and the crowd is loud, » added Losada. The movement of their three offensive players is very coordinated. »
CF Montreal (6-9-1) suffered a first defeat in its last four outings, but it was shut out for the seventh time on the road this season.
“We created a lot of attacking chances, especially at home, but I also want to bring energy and attack abroad. We have to be better on the road and hopefully I can help the team when I have those opportunities overseas,” Toye noted.
The Montrealers were able to play with the Union at the start of the game, but the local team opened the machine in the 12th minute.
After recovering a long cross, Matt Real handed the ball to Carranza at the entrance to the penalty area. The latter made Bryce Duke freeze before unleashing a well-wound shot that deceived the vigilance of Pantemis on his left.
CF Montreal managed to threaten just four minutes later, but Real got in the way of a Zachary Brault-Guillard shot to put out the fire.
The visitors thought they could level the score in the 30th minute, but Blake made a spectacular save before a close-range shot from Lassi Lappalainen.
This stop came to haunt the Montrealers a few minutes later. Nathan Harriel fired a shot that was deflected by Robert Thorkelsson and forced Pantemis to use his reflexes. The return, however, arrived at the foot of Uhre, who put the finishing touches.
The odds once again turned in favor of the Union, in the 61st minute. Carranza had space to attempt a shot. The ball touched Gabriele Corbo’s foot and then Joel Waterman’s back to go helplessly over Pantemis.
Carranza had his hat trick on the toe a few minutes later, but missed a nearly free net. Waterman also acted up by stopping a ball at the goal line to leave the score as it was.