CHESTER, Pa. — The Philadelphia Union did exactly what they were expected to do on Saturday.
That is a sentence that hasn’t been typed much in the history of the franchise, but it rang true following their 3-0 dismantling of the Montreal Impact at Talen Energy Stadium.
Cory Burke, Jamiro Monteiro and Alejandro Bedoya found the back of the net against an Impact side that was without injured playmaker Ignacio Piatti for the fifth straight match.
Burke deposited his second strike of the 2019 campaign into the back of the net in the 14th minute, when he was given space to shoot from outside the box by a pair of backpedaling Impact defenders.
“The defenders went with the guys who were off the ball and I decided to take a shot from outside the box and scored,” Burke said.
The Jamaican received an unexpected amount of space from the Impact, who packed in their defensive lines and attempted to make it hard for the home side to break down.
“We talked all week about Montreal, they haven’t given up a goal in the past three games, they are hard to break down,” Union coach Jim Curtin said. “When you do score early, it forces them to change what they are excellent at, which is being organized, being behind the ball, hitting you on the counter.”
“For Cory to get that goal on the break and to punish them when they made a mistake is critical,” Curtin said. “Goals change games and that really set the tone for the afternoon.”
However, the Union’s shift to a 4-2-3-1 that included Ilsinho, Monteiro and Brenden Aaronson, all of whom are good in tight space on the ball, rendered the game plan of Remi Garde’s team useless, and forced a pair of halftime changes.
Right before the halftime whistle, the Union extended their advantage to two goals by way of the penalty spot.
Jack Elliott was brought down in the middle of the box on a set piece by Zakaria Diallo, which led to referee Robert Sibiga awarding the PK.
Monteiro became the latest Union player to take a chance from the penalty spot, and he easily finished into the right side of the net.
Twelve minutes into the second half, the Union padded their lead further on a strange set of events that ended in Bedoya finishing from the right side of the box.
Haris Medunjanin played a beautiful ball in the direction of Kai Wagner, who played across the face of goal. Burke tried to get his boot on the cross, but he missed, allowing Bedoya to clean up the move with his second strike in three matches.
Unfortunately for the Union, not every moment of the 90 minutes went in their favor.
In the 54th minute, goalkeeper Andre Blake exited the game with a right groin injury after experiencing pain on a goal kick.
“I just spoke with (Blake),” Curtin said. “It sounds like it wasn’t a bad one in terms of his foot giving out or anything like that. It’ll probably be some time. I don’t want to speculate and put a timeline on it. It’s not likely that it’s going to be in time for Vancouver.”
In his place, the Union sent on Homegrown goalkeeper Matt Freese to make his MLS debut.
Apr 20, 2019; Philadelphia, PA, USA; Philadelphia Union mascot Phang searches for Easter Eggs outside Talen Energy Stadium before a game against the Montreal Impact. Mandatory Credit: Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports
Center back Mark McKenzie, who was supposed to start in place of the suspended Auston Trusty, was diagnosed with appendicitis before the match and was not in the match day squad.
The Impact return to the field on Wednesday at New England, while the Union are back in action on Saturday at BC Place against the Vancouver Whitecaps.
The Union will be without Wagner for the trip to Vancouver after he was sent off in second-half stoppage time following Video Review.
“Silly. Really silly,” Curtin said of Wagner’s tackle.
“Now we’ll be without a left back, who for my money, has been the top left back in the league,” Curtin said. “Kai has to do better and be smarter there and recognize the situation.”