Sunday, August 05, 2012

Union fall in Montreal

(The Phanatic Magazine) - The Philadelphia Union suffered just its second defeat in six MLS games on Saturday evening as Montreal Impact recorded a 2-0 home win at Stade Saputo.

John Hackworth’s side traveled north looking to continue their good form after taking 12 points from a possible 15 in July but were made to pay for missed opportunities as goals from Andrew Wenger and Felipe Martins gave the hosts all three points.

It was Montreal who applied the pressure in the opening moments, with former Union man Justin Mapp – who played 44 times for the club – over-hitting a cross from the left while Felipe Martins was denied at the last as he shaped to test Zac MacMath.

Former Reading United man Andrew Wenger almost opened the scoring for the Impact after 13 minutes; the striker penalized for controlling with his hand before lashing a shot across MacMath and off the right post.

But it was the Union who carved out the first real chance of the game. Captain Carlos Vald├ęs went on a sensational run forward, striding forward from his usual defensive berth before beating a number of men and releasing Lionard Pajoy inside the Montreal half. Despite a terrific first touch, the Colombian was unlucky to see his fizzing low drive rebound off Donovan Rickett’s post and to the safety of an Impact defender who gratefully cleared.

While Mapp continued to be a presence, hitting a speculative effort well wide from the left, the Union were back on the attack just moments later; Michael Farfan’s in-swinging delivery from a wide left position was measured to perfection but Donovan Ricketts was on hand to block Jack McInerney’s powerful downward header to keep the scores level.

Yet it was the hosts who would open the scoring on the stroke of half time; Mapp’s corner was taken short to Patrice Bernier and the Quebec native stood the perfect cross up for the glancing header of Pennsylvania-born striker Andrew Wenger, giving MacMath no chance.

Hackworth’s side emerged from the locker room with attacking intent from the off and they could have been level just three minutes into the second half. Michael Lahoud cut in from the left and exchanged wonderfully-weighted short passes with Lionard Pajoy but the latter saw his firmly-hit shot sail high into the crowd with Ricketts’ goal teasingly close.

And the visitors were at it again less than two minutes later; Michael Farfan heading a difficult chance wide with Ricketts rooted to the spot and brother Gabriel seeing a long drive repelled by a smart defensive block.

Then came a game-changing moment. Substitute Antoine Hoppenot tangled with Nelson Rivas as both players contested a high ball and Rivas reacted furiously, sending the young striker crashing to the turf to earn a straight red card. He was followed instantly by Jack McInerney, the Union man dismissed for his involvement in the aftermath.

From then, both sides pushed for that next, critical goal and it was the Impact who sealed the win with 12 minutes remaining. Hassoun Camara’s cross was met on the turn by Felipe Martins and the Brazilian’s crashing volley flew into the bottom corner to give Jessie Marsch’s side an unassailable lead.                                                                                                                                

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