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By Siobhan Nolan, Contributing Writer
The Union were able to salvage a point from their matchup against CF Montreal at Subaru Park, with an absolute banger of a goal from 17-year-old Quinn Sullivan tying things up late in the game.
Jim Curtin made a couple of changes to his lineup, pairing up Sergio Santos and Cory Burke for just the third time this season, along with adding Jamiro Monteiro back to the starting lineup, but putting him on the right side of the midfield diamond rather than his preferred central attacking midfielder position.
The Union started off strong, looking much quicker in transition against Motreal. Kai Wagner looked particularly strong on the left side during this game, making several dangerous crosses into the opposition’s final third. Although Montreal was able to clear away the Union’s balls into the penalty box, the home team had multiple threatening scoring opportunities. Santos in particular fired a couple of almost-goals just wide of the net.
On the defensive side of things, Andre Blake proved yet again why he’s more than deserving of his spot on the 2021 MLS All-Star Team. When faced with a nervy Montreal free kick, Blake punched the ball away and out of danger. Jakob Glesnes and Jack Elliott combined to keep things tidy on the back line, while Wagner found himself making an incredibly important clearance on the goal line as halftime drew closer. The Boys In Blue also found themselves in referee Chris Penso’s book twice within the first six minutes of the game. Both Monteiro and Olivier Mbaizo received yellow cards in the early minutes of the game.
Despite the Union having the majority of possession and the better scoring chances, Montreal were able to draw first blood during the first half stoppage time. Joaquin Torres found himself with plenty of space as he made a run towards the Union’s 18-yard box. While his initial run didn’t amount to anything, Torres was able to double back and find Djordje Mihailovic, who promptly sent it flying past Blake.
At halftime, Curtin admitted that Montreal were able to throw the Union off finding a consistent attacking rhythm, but his players were more than ready to get that equalizing goal in the second half. Alejandro Bedoya, Kacper Przybyłko, and Jack McGlynn were brought on to bolster the attack, but Santos was still the player that was all over Montreal’s defense.
Curtin then decided to try his luck by bringing Quinn Sullivan on for Mbaizo, and it proved to be just the tonic Philadelphia needed. A lovely cross from Wagner (who else?) landed at the 17-year-old’s feet, who hit a one-touch scorcher into the top corner of the net in the 85th minute. Although they were able to put pressure on Montreal’s defense throughout the entire half, the Union would walk away with just the one point.
Man of the Match: The obvious answer would be Sullivan, but immense credit needs to be given to Santos for bringing the necessary intensity to the Union’s attack. He caused the most problems for Montreal’s defense, and although his finishing left something to be desired, he brought the fire that helped the Union establish consistent control over the game.
The Main Takeaway: This was one of those games where the result doesn’t reflect the performance of the Union. It was a great team effort, especially on the offensive side, and showed that Curtin can (and should) mix up his lineup. It’s understandable why he’s stuck with essentially the same players the entire season, but trying out new partnerships, putting players in new positions, and making those strategic substitutes could work wonders for this team. The Union can afford to be a little more experimental, and it could give them a huge advantage knowing that they have so many different lineup combinations that can bring them positive results.