Union conclude homestand with clash against Impact

COLUMBUS, OH - MARCH 12: Ilsinho
COLUMBUS, OH - MARCH 12: Ilsinho /

Following a dominant performance against FC Dallas a week ago, the Philadelphia Union welcome the Montreal Impact to town this Saturday. 

The ins and outs:

Philadelphia Union (8-10-5) vs. Montreal Impact (7-8-6)

When: Saturday 8:00 p.m. ET – Talen Energy Stadium (Chester, PA)

Where to Watch: The Comcast Network (TCN)

Streaming: MLS Live

PRO Referees: Rubiel Vazquez, Frank Anderson (AR1), Adam Wienckowski (AR2), Jose Carlos Rivero (AR4), Mark Geiger (VAR).

Coaches: Jim Curtin (Philadelphia Union) – Mauro Biello (Montreal Impact)

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The Philadelphia Union have been one of the most interesting teams in Major League Soccer this season. Following a 3-0 road loss in New England to close out July, the Union rolled their way to a 3-1 home win over FC Dallas on August 5th. A brace from C.J. Sapong paired with a goal from Ilsinho, saw the Union on their way to three points at Talen Energy Stadium.

Now Jim Curtin’s side turn their attention to the Montreal Impact this week, a side that sits only two points behind the Union in the Eastern Conference. Earlier this season, the Union blew a 3-0 lead against Montreal and had to settle for a 3-3 draw. At Saputo Stadium in July, the Impact used a 51st-minute winner from Blerim Dzemaili to snatch a home victory. Since the last meeting between these sides, the Union have gone 2-2-0 while Montreal has gone 1-2-0.

Playmaking midfielder Ignacio Piatti returned to the Impact’s starting XI last weekend, scoring his ninth goal of the season. Dzemaili has four goals and four assists this season, while striker Anthony Jackson-Hamel has  five goals. The only absentee for the Impact is defender Ambroise Oyongo who is out for six months after right knee surgery.

Possible Lineups/Injury Report:
Goalkeeper Andre Blake is questionable for Saturday’s showdown, while John McCarthy looks to keep his starting place in-goal. Maurice Edu and Fabian Herbers remain the lengthy absentees from the Union squad, while Oguchi Onyewu (left groin strain) and Fafa Pinault (left hamstring strain) are also questionable.

Projected Starting Line-up, from right to left: GK: John McCarthy – Raymon Gaddis, Oguchi Onyewu, Jack Elliott, Giliano Wijnaldum – Alejandro Bedoya, Haris Medunjanin – Chris Pontius, Ilsinho, Fafa Picault – C.J. Sapong.

Next: Philadelphia Union: Four Union players make MLS Team of the Week

Keys to the Game:

  • Shut down Piatti at all costs
    For the Montreal Impact to be successful, Ignacio Piatti needs to be in the starting XI. The Argentinian is a main player in the Impact’s midfield and runs the show on most occasions. His nine goals proves his ability to score, while he always tries to find the best option offensively. I feel for the Union to be successful and keep the Impact off the board, they will need to show Piatti down. Haris Medunjanin will be the man who marks Piatti, and will need to follow him around the pitch for 90 minutes. If Piatti is slowed down, the Impact will have to try other ways to break down the Union.
  • Player to Watch – C.J. Sapong
    C.J. Sapong is having his best season in the blue and gold, scoring 12 league goals in 22 matches so far. In his last six matches, Sapong has four goals and two assists. He has already set a single-season personal record for goals in a season, and doesn’t show any signs of stopping. His physical presence will always cause problems for opposing defenders, while his ability to help the team in other aspects is unteachable. Sapong will be relied on again Saturday night if the Union want to inch closer to a playoff spot.