Al Lang Stadium, St-Petersburg, Florida –
A 27thminute front post finish by new striker Maxi Urruti, after good combination work on the right by Sagna and Novillo was enough to secure victory over The Union.
While it’s important to bear in mind this is pre-season, Remi Garde will have been pleased with his team’s performance. They were organized, disciplined, and possessed the ball better and more consistently than usual. That’s probably going to be important as they get ready for six road games on the trot once the serious stuff begins, in a couple of weeks.
If there was a disappointing aspect it was the failure to create chances, but losing Piatti in the warm-up won’t have helped, and new striker Orji Okwonkwo has still not caught up with his new team-mates.
Rival coach Jim Curtin, about to enter his sixth season at the helm, must also been concerned with his team’s inability to function coherently in the final third, where despite the inclusion of Mexican international Marco Fabian for the first time, The Union failed to click. Post-match, Curtain did however praise Montreal for their organization and discipline.
The Impact had the hallmark of a Remi Garde side. Contrast today’s events with the same time 12 months ago, and you can see a huge amount of difference. Still not yet time to become carried away, but the Impact now looks like something resembling the vision the French coach talked about when he first arrived; a team that possesses the ball.
“I’m satisfied for the players, who put in a big effort,” said Montreal Impact head coach Rémi Garde. “It wasn’t easy, and it was quite hot as well. Despite everything, the individual level of focus from each player regarding our game plan was very satisfying. The players respected the game plan, and it was important for us to repeat what we wanted to see.”
Seventeen players saw game time, with Mathieu Choiniere playing a full 90 mins, after replacing Piatti in the starting line-up.
Especially in the first-half, the contest between experienced Montreal right-sided pair, Bacary Sagna and Harry Novillo and Philadelphia’s youthful combination in left defense, 18-year-old Brendan Aaronson abetted by Kai Wagner, a 22-year-old recent arrival from Wurzberger Kickers in Germany’s third tier, proved a mis-match.
Indeed, this was the source for the game’s only goal, the Montreal pair combining effectively before Sagna supplied the cross from which Urruti cleverly converted at the front post.
The Union pushed hard for an equalizer during the closing stages, however despite the best promptings of particularly Derrick Jones, a 60thminute substitute, Montreal quite comfortably maintained their slender lead.
Montreal next play at the same venue on Wednesday evening 7pm, against the Tampa Bay Rowdies.
Philadelphia also next play Wednesday evening 7pm, against DC United at Joe DiMaggio Sports Complex at Clearwater.
Montreal Impact: Clement Diop; Bakary Sagna (Zachary Brault-Guillard — 86’), Zakaria Diallo, Victor Cabrera, Daniel Lovitz,; Samuel Piette, Saphir Taider (Shamit Shome — 77’, Michael Azira (Ken Krolicki — 69’), Mathieu Choiniere (Clement Bayiha — 90’+2’); Harry Novillo (David Choiniere — 82’), Maxi Urruti (Anthony Jackson-Hamel — 73’)
Philadelphia Union: Carlos Miguel Coronel; Raymon Gaddis, Mark McKenzie (Jack Elliott — 30’), Aurelien Collin (Auston Trusty — 60’), Kai Wagner (Matthew Real — 60’); Haris Medunjanin (Derrick Jones — 60’), Alejandro Bedoya (Anthony Fontana — 60’), Marco Fabian (Ilsinho — 46’), Brenden Aaronson — CJ Sapong (Kacper Przybylko — 60’), Fafa Picault (David Accam — 60’)