Montreal Impact draw Philadelphia Union 1-1 in clash of first - second in MLS Eastern Conference
Montreal Impact score first but Philadelphia Union find the equalizing goal. | Photo: Graham Hughes/The Canadian Press via AP

The Philadelphia Union traveled to the Saputo Stadium to take on the Montreal Impact on a rainy Saturday afternoon and came away with a point

After his team’s 2-2 draw against Los Angeles Galaxy, Philadelphia Union Head Coach Jim Curtin opted to not make many changes to his starting eleven. Curtin chose to replace Fabinho with Ray Gaddis along his backline and, in midfield, opted to bring in Warren Creavalle in the number six role for Brian Carroll.

Montreal Impact, led by Ignacio Piatti and Didier Drogba, come out aggressively against Philadephia Union

Montreal wasted no time getting on the score sheet as they led within five minutes in the first half. In the third minute, CJ Sapong slipped as he tried to clear a corner kick, but the ball fell to Didier Drogba. Drogba took a touch and hit a screaming half-volley shot into the top right corner, where Andre Blake had no chance, for the early 1-0 Impact lead.

Not to be outdone by his teammate, in the first ten minutes alone, Impact midfielder Ignacio Piatti had two excellent shots on net. Piatti embarrassed three Union defenders on his first shot on net in the fifth minute and nearly doubled Montreal’s lead, if not for the left post.

Despite conceding a goal in the first minutes of the game,  Blake continued to show why many consider him one of the best goalkeepers in Major League Soccer. In the first half, alone Blake sent a point-blank shot by Piatti as well as Drogba free kick away from danger, which allowed the Union to stay in the game early on.

Philadelphia Union weather initial storm by Montreal Impact

However, after an initial pressure-filled 15 minutes by Montreal, Philadelphia regrouped to build possession and gain a foothold in the match. The Union’s improved play in the first half was rewarded in the 24th minute when Sebastien Le Toux did well to hit a Tranquillo Barnetta cross back towards the mouth of the net. Sapong was left wide open on the play and easily collected his fifth goal of the season to tie the game at one.

Philadelphia Union celebrate CJ Sapong's fifth goal of the MLS Season against Montreal Impact (Photo Courtesy of Jean-Yves Ahern/USA Today Sports)

After the score was leveled at one, both squads played back-and-forth soccer by exchanging good spells of offensive soccer until referee Drew Fischer blew the whistle for halftime.

When play resumed, Philadelphia flipped the narrative by forcing Montreal on the back foot with surmounting pressure and possession on the ball. 

In the 70th minute, the Union's pressure nearly paid off when Keegan Rosenberry sent in a low hit cross that managed to get passed both Barnetta and Sapong. To add, in the 78th minute, rookie Fabian Herbers nearly opened his MLS account, when he got past the Impact backline, but sent his shot wide of the  net.

However, Philadelphia would be unable to find a second goal as the full-time whistle blew with both teams still tied at one.

Coming up 

For Philadelphia, a road point ends a solid week against two tough opponents. The Blue and Gold will be back in action next week against DC United on Friday, May 20th.

Montreal will accept the point, but will be more concerned about the health of Drogba, who was seen limping throughout the second half. Luckily, the Impact will have two weeks off as they resume play on May 28th against Los Angeles Galaxy.

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