Despite controlling the match for the first hour, the Union capitulated their first half lead and ultimately all three points to the Montreal Impact, losing 2-1 at Stade Saputo.
With Montreal struggling for goals and the Union needing a victory to keep any realistic playoff hopes alive, John Hackworth would have been relieved to see his side go 1-0 ahead when Kleberson threaded the needle, sending Fabinho in behind to lash home past Troy Perkins.
When Montreal manager Marco Schallibaum changed his team’s tactics though, the Union had no response.
Just after the hour mark, Marco DiVaio found the equalizer as he spun in the box and fired beyond Zac MacMath. After a series of a close calls for the Union, Karl Ouimette bagged the winner in the 84th minute, powering home a free header to put the Union’s playoff hopes on life support.
“Giving up two goals like that is unlucky for us –- we have to do better,” Zac MacMath said after the game. “We should’ve tried to get a better control of the game in the second half, because I thought we played a very solid first half. It should have been us dictating the game ourselves and not [Montreal] dictating that last 45 minutes.”
Following a pair of one-game suspensions, John Hackworth immediately restored Sheanon Williams and Fabinho to their places in the starting lineup, replacing the injured duo of Sebastien Le Toux and Keon Daniel. Jack McInerney stepped into the side for the suspended Michael Farfan, with Kleberson pulling the midfield strings.
But it was the hosts who got out to the early start.
After Amobi Okugo recovered for Williams when Davy Arnaud got in behind, DiVaio nearly opened the scoring in the 6th minute. Upon claiming the ball in his area, MacMath looked to play out quickly, but threw the ball directly to Justin Mapp. After exchanging passes with Hassoun Camara, Mapp cut the ball back from the endline but DiVaio could not keep his shot on target, sliding it inches past the post.
With the Union looking to slow down the match, it became a midfield fight until the 15th minute. Taking the ball along the endline, Conor Casey nimbly eluded Karl Ouimette before shoving him to the ground. His cutback found the arriving Kleberson, but the Brazilian was unlucky to see his shot blocked over the bar.
While the Montreal looked punchless in all phases of play, the Union struggled to create chances of their own.
That is, until the 30th minute, when Kleberson picked off an errant pass and sent Fabinho in clean on Perkins. Minutes earlier, McInerney had played Fabinho in as well, only to see the wide midfielder make a mess of his final touch. This time he made no mistake, crushing the ball high and inside of Perkins’ near post before the keeper could react.
It was a well crafted goal, with the Impact paying dearly for the broken connections between their back line and midfield.
But the hosts were resilient and Patrice Bernier had a look at MacMath’s goal minutes later. It was Arnaud again who provided the cross, but Bernier lacked the craft to keep his volley on frame.
As the half wore down, Union captain Brian Carroll became the first player into referee Silviu Petrescu’s notebook for an unnecessary tackle from behind on Mapp. Moments later, Casey joined him with a yellow card for dissent after he voiced his frustration over one of Petrescu’s calls.
Playing angry, Casey nearly set up the Union with a two-goal lead before the break. Driving through two would-be defenders, he laid off softly for Danny Cruz at the top of the box, but the winger mishit the open look, slicing the ball well wide.
One goal to the good against a team that has lately struggled mightily in front of goal had the Union in good spirits entering the second half. But minor mistakes crept into their game, allowing the Impact the let off they needed.
At the back though, Jeff Parke remained resolute in shutting down DiVaio, doing so again when he got in the way of a shot in the 52nd minute.
Acknowledging the need for a change, Schallibaum hauled off Bernier in the 53rd minute for Lancaster, Pa. product Andrew Wenger. With an extra body in the attack, Montreal began to cause the Union problems as they dropped deeper into their defensive third.
Wenger nearly made an instant impact when he reached the endline before flicking the ball off of Parke’s arm at the near post. But despite vehement protests from the Montreal players, Petrescu rightly waved away the loud cries for handball.
MacMath raced bravely off his line soon after to punch away before DiVaio could latch on to a cross. He received a heavy clattering for his effort, and DiVaio received a yellow card.
Montreal’s pressure continued to pin the Union too deep, and MacMath had to react smartly in the 63rd minute, smothering at his near post after Mapp had beaten Ray Gaddis to the end line. In his urgency to support Gaddis, Fabinho nearly deflected the former Union midfielder’s cross into his own net.
A minute later, Montreal’s equalizer arrived.
Beating Kleberson to a ball at the top of the box, Felipe sent Arnaud behind a paralyzed Union defense. With Williams scrambling to cover, Arnaud cut back for DiVaio, who spun away from the marking of Okugo before slamming the ball off Gaddis and into the net.
Hackworth quickly hooked McInerney in favor of the more direct Antoine Hoppenot. But Montreal was on the front foot, and DiVaio could easily have doubled his tally in the 70th minute. With Arnaud hooking his cross into the Italian’s path, DiVaio could only to drive the ball into the turf and over the empty goal.
Minutes later, DiVaio again left a chance for the go-ahead goal on the table. Taking the ball down at full speed, DiVaio found enough space past Williams to angle his shot towards the back post, but his connection wasn’t true and the ball flew wide of the mark.
In the 76th minute, DiVaio was back at it, running one-on-one against Okugo. The Union defender did just enough to push DiVaio to the endline where, with the angle cut down, MacMath could push away the dangerous shot.
The Impact were now flooding the Union box in waves, with Mapp flicking Felipe’s lay-off just wide of the post before Camara rose highest to head a delivery from Mapp just wide of goal.
Hoppenot offered the Union a brief respite in the 82nd minute when, after knocking Alessandro Nesta to the turf, he tracked down the ball and spotted fellow substitute Leo Fernandes racing into the box. Hoppenot found him with his cross, but the rookie could only direct a soft header into Perkins’ waiting arms.
Montreal hit straight back, but Okugo did enough to stand up DiVaio before blocking his shot.
With Montreal looking to exploit the wings, Camara challenged with Gaddis in the 83rd minute before going to deck softly. When Petrescu awarded the free kick, Mapp stepped up to hook his left footed service into the Union box. It was there that Karl Ouimette, Montreal’s first homegrown player, was left alone to bury his free header into the Union goal.
With the loss, Philadelphia returns home knowing that even a victory in their final regular season game against Sporting Kansas City next Saturday might not be enough to insure a place in the postseason. If both Chicago and Houston win this weekend, the Union’s 2013 season will end next Saturday at PPL Park.
“Our expectations were that we were going to come in and get a victory,” Hackworth said after the game. “The players understand what’s on the line. We’ve all talked about it. And if we are still mathematically alive heading into next weekend, then you can trust we’ll be putting everything we can into it.”
Zac MacMath; Sheanon Williams, Amobi Okugo, Jeff Parke, Ray Gaddis (Roger Torres ’88); Danny Cruz (Leo Fernandes ’77), Kleberson, Brian Carroll, Fabinho; Conor Casey, Jack McInerney (Antoine Hoppenot ’67)
Unused substitutes: Oka Nikolov, Matt Kassel, Gilberto, Aaron Wheeler
Troy Perkins; Karl Ouimette, Alessandro Nesta (Wandrille Lefevre ’89), Matteo Ferrari, Hassoun Camara; Patrice Bernier (Andrew Wenger ’53), Hernan Bernardello; Davy Arnaud (Andrea Pisanu ’71), Felipe Martins, Justin Mapp; Marco Di Vaio
Unused substitutes: Evan Bush, Maxim Tissot, Collen Warner, Andrew Romero
30 – PHI: Fabinho (Kleberson)
64 – MTL: DiVaio (Arnaud)
84 – MTL: Ouimette (Mapp)
39 – PHI: Carroll (caution)
41 – PHI: Casey (caution)
56 – MTL: DiVaio (caution)
76 – MTL: Ferrari (caution)
89 – MTL: Camara (caution)
89 – PHI: Okugo (caution)
92 – MTL: Pisanu (caution)
Referee: Silviu Petrescu
|Montreal Impact||Philadelphia Union|
|18||Attempts on Goal||12|
|3||Shots on Target||4|
|9||Shots off Target||6|
|24||Open Play Crosses||16|
|4||First Yellow Cards||3|
|0||Second Yellow Cards||0|
|51%||Duels Won %||48%|
|81%||Passing Accuracy %||76%|