Week 21 Preview: Union vs. CF Montreal

By Siobhan Nolan, Contributing Writer

No rest for the Union as they prepare to take on CF Montreal on leapfrog NYCFC for third place in the Eastern Conference standings.

Montreal currently sit just outside of playoff contention, with their most recent result being a scoreless tie against FC Cincinnati. They failed to record a single shot on target, marking the fifth time in club history that they haven’t recorded a shot on target but avoided a loss.

On the other hand, the Union are in high spirits after beating NYCFC 1-0, thanks to a powerful header from captain Alejandro Bedoya. The win comes after two consecutive losses to the New England Revolution and Club America, and Philadelphia will be looking to continue the strong performance against Montreal.

Speaking about keeping the team’s form up, head coach Jim Curtin said, “It was one of our stronger performances of the year and we were very good in defense and attack against a really strong opponent. I stressed to the guys that a great result means nothing if we don’t follow it up with another strong performance at home against a very organized Montreal side.”

The squad depth will also continue to be tested, as right back Olivier Mbaizo is ready for action against Montreal following an injury sustained during the first leg of the CONCACAF Champions League semifinal.

“There is great competition now at the [right back] spot,” Curtin said. “The game at Mexico and following up with the great performance against NYC. No matter who New York City put on his side, and it escalated from a $3 million player to a $5 million player to a $10 million player, he did his job. He got tired doing it, but he did his job in that game. We have a healthy competition at right back, which is good for the club.”

Curtin commented on Mbaizo’s fitness by saying, “He’s fine, and it was a fake tooth that we found out after the game, so at least it wasn’t like one that needed to be replaced completely, so maybe that is why it came out like a cartoon in that instance. He’s fine and doing fine. No concussion or diagnosis of a concussion so everything is fine with Mbaizo. He was suspended last game, which is why he didn’t play, but he’s available for tomorrow.

Predicted Lineup: Andre Blake, Kai Wagner, Jakob Glesnes, Jack Elliott, Olivier Mbaizo, Jose Martinez, Leon Flach, Alejandro Bedoya, Quinn Sullivan, Kacper Przybyłko, Cory Burke

  • Now that Mbaizo is available for selection, it’s likely that he will resume his position on the right side. Although Jamiro Monteiro will be available for selection, he will probably stay on the bench as he reintegrates into the squad following an unsuccessful bid to be transferred away from the Union. Since Montreal aren’t nearly as threatening as NYCFC, Curtin will want to give some of the young guys more minutes.

Score Prediction: The win against New York clearly fired up the Union and put the devastation of their two previous losses out of their minds. They’ll keep the momentum going for a good 2-1 win.

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