The Union blew a 3-goal lead as they settled for a 3-3 draw with the Montreal Impact on Saturday afternoon at a soggy Talen Energy Stadium in Chester.
Union starting XI: Blake; Gaddis, Marquez, Elliott, Fabinho; Bedoya, Medunjanin; Pontius, Alberg, Ilsinho; Sapong
Montreal starting XI: Bush; Oyongo, Ciman, Duvall, Camara; Bernadello, Donadel; Piatti, Bernier, Oduro; Mancosu
The Union wanted to get out of the cellar, and the Major League Soccer schedule was kind to them by serving up the next-to-last team in the Eastern Conference, the Montreal Impact, who went into the match 4 points ahead of the U in the standings. The weather wasn’t so kind, as chilly rain showers passed over Chester on and off during the afternoon. A win would also end both their 4-game losing streak, and the non-winning streak that stretches back to August of last season.
For the first time since 2015, the Union starting lineup didn’t include Keegan Rosenberry. In fact, this was the time he would sit on the bench ever. Raymon Gaddis, once himself a regular, got an opportunity to show that he deserves more time on the pitch. Curtin added another twist by switching the sides that wingers Chris Pontius and Ilsinho usually play on.
The Union gave themselves hope early on when Roland Alberg scored a goal in the 5th minute. C.J. Sapong got the ball to Alberg in the box. Alberg had only Laurent Ciman and goalkeeper Evan Bush to beat. Alberg made a nice step-around on Ciman and shot the ball past Bush.
Sapong got a goal of his own in the 23rd minute to make it 2-0. Haris Medunjanin sent a cross from the corner of the box which found Pontius’ head who was close to the left post. Pontius bounced the ball into the center of the box where Sapong was waiting in front of the goal. Sapong headed the ball past Bush to give the boys in blue the 2-0 lead.
C.J. Sapong’s goal gives the Union a 2-0 lead. Photo: Frank Fimmano
The Union made it a three-goal lead in the 39th minute on an Alberg penalty kick. Dominic Oduro took out Jack Elliott in the penalty area to set it up. Bush actually got his hands on the penalty kick and tried to push it away, but the ball took a weird ricochet off him and the ball ended up in the right side of the goal.
Of course, not even a three-goal lead is comfortable when you’re playing a team that has Ignacio Piatti. The Impact’s Argentine DP caught the Union defense sleeping as he ran past several players into the box and shot the ball into the low right corner of the net in the 41st minute. Still, at 3-1, the U had a nice 2-goal lead after a strong first half performance.
In the 62nd minute, Impact head coach Mauro Biello replaced Oduro with Anthony Jackson-Hamel, which showed itself to be a shrewd move 7 minutes later when Jackson-Hamel scored to bring the Impact within one. Marco Donadel crossed a perfectly placed ball into the box where Jackson-Hamel could flick the ball into the goal off his head.
Curtin tried kick start the offense by replacing each winger with his first two substitutions. In the 66th minute, Fafa Picault was in for Ilsinho, and Fabian Herbers took over for Pontius in the 73rd minute. However, the Union were unable to get that insurance goal heading into the dying minutes of the match. In an attempt to protect the one-goal lead, Curtin replaced Alberg with Derrick Jones for greater defensive presence in the 86th minute.
It was a good move, but the Union still gave up the tying goal when Jackson-Hamel scored his second goal one minute later. Matteo Mancuso took shot from just outside the penalty area arc. Blake stopped the ball but wasn’t able to grab a hold of it, and the ball rebounded to a waiting Jackson-Hamel who made no mistake in placing the ball into the net.
Five minutes of stoppage time was added on, but neither team could find the winning goal and the game ended at 3-3.
Giving up a three-goal lead at home, and missing out on their first win of the season. That was so Union.
After the game, Alejandro Bedoya called it “Pure frustration”, and called the defense “soft” (to be fair, he was including himself in that). “If we’re going to give up a minimum of two goals every game, we’re not going to win a game”.
The Union failed to take a step towards getting out of the Eastern Conference cellar with this draw. There is no talk of playoffs now. The season has now devolved into whether the U can get out of last place or not.
- Medunjanin may be turning out to be a defensive liability in the number 6 spot. I wouldn’t suggest benching him, but the Union are missing Brian Carroll in that role.
- Gaddis played a solid game, but didn’t do anything to stand out.
- The sooner Joshua Yaro gets back, the better.