Philadelphia Union vs. Montreal Impact | MLS Match Preview

PHILADELPHIA UNION vs MONTREAL IMPACT
PPL Park, Chester, Pa.
March 29, 2014 (WEEK 4, MLS Game #26)
4 p.m. ET (WPVI-6abc; TVA)

Philadelphia Union return home for a key Eastern Conference matchup when they greet the Montreal Impact for a Saturday afternoon clash at PPL Park. Union lost for the first time in 2014 last weekend, dropping a 2-1 decision at the Columbus Crew. The Impact are still looking for their first points of the campaign, falling 2-0 to Seattle Sounders FC in their weather-delayed home opener at Olympic Stadium last weekend.

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REFEREE: Edvin Jurisevic. SAR (bench): Frank Anderson; JAR (opposite): Mark Cahen; 4th: Daniel Fitzgerald
MLS Career: 68 games; FC/gm: 22.5; Y/gm: 3.4; R: 8; pens: 10

SUSPENDED: none
DISABLED LIST: none
INTERNATIONAL ABSENCES: none

HEAD-TO-HEAD
ALL-TIME (5 meetings): Union 1 win, 6 goals … Impact 3 wins, 10 goals … Ties 1
AT PHILADELPHIA (2 meetings): Union 1 win, 2 goals … Impact 0 wins, 0 goals … Ties 1
RETURN MATCHES: 4/26: Montreal Impact vs. Philadelphia Union, 4 p.m. ET; 8/9: Philadelphia Union vs. Montreal Impact, 7 p.m. ET

LAST YEAR (MLS):
5/25: MTL 5, PHI 3 (Di Vaio 2, 28, 32; Wenger 74; Smith 94+ – McInerney 5; Hoppenot 69; Le Toux 85)
8/31: PHI 0, MTL 0
10/19: MTL 2, PHI 1 (Di Vaio 64; Ouimette 84 – Fabinho 29)

  • The Impact are undefeated in their last four meetings with Union, including victories in all three encounters in Montreal. Since a 2-1 Union win in the first meeting ever between the clubs, July 14, 2012 at PPL Park, Montreal is 3-0-1 in the series.
  • Coaches record: John Hackworth vs. MTL: P5 W1 L3 D1 … Frank Klopas vs. PHI: P7 W3 L3 D1

PHILADELPHIA UNION

Philadelphia Union returned to the road and couldn’t build on their first victory, falling 2-1 to the Columbus Crew on Saturday evening at Crew Stadium. Union are in a tie for fourth place in the Eastern Conference with 4 points from 3 games.

LAST MATCH

  • The Crew took the lead in the 24th minute. Federico Higuain provided a looping ball from a corner, and Bernardo Anor streaked untouched through the Union defense to powerfully head past Union goalkeeper Zac MacMath.
  • The lead was doubled in first-half stoppage time. From a turnover near midfield, Crew midfielder Wil Trapp found Anor in the center of the pitch. He turned upfield and fired a left-footed blast from more than 30 yards out that bent to the left and flew past the 'keeper.
  • Union did pull a goal back in the 62nd minute. Sebastien Le Toux found space behind the Crew defense and played a low cross to Leo Fernandes, who tucked a shot past Crew 'keeper Steve Clark from the top of the goal area.
  • Union manager John Hackworth made two changes to the team that held out for a 1-0 win against the New England Revolution at PPL Park. Aaron Wheeler started in central defense in place of Austin Berry, and Brian Carroll came back into the team for Leo Fernandes.
  • PHILADELPHIA UNION (4-2-3-1): Zac MacMath - Raymon Gaddis, Amobi Okugo, Aaron Wheeler, Fabinho - Brian Carroll, Maurice Edu - Sebastien Le Toux (Danny Cruz 80), Vincent Nogueira, Cristian Maidana (Leo Fernandes 55) - Jack McInerney (Antoine Hoppenot 72).

TEAM NEWS

  • For a second time in three games, Union conceded a goal from a corner kick. Two of their three goals allowed have come from set pieces.
  • “I’m really not happy we’ve given up two restart goals,” Hackworth said. “And two of those restarts were just missed clearances. We have to solve that. And we’ve given up two goals in the extra time of a half – one in Portland at the end of the game and one here at the end of the first half. We have to solve that because we were actually pretty strong until then.”
  • After recording his first career assist the week before, Leo Fernandes scored his first professional goal in the Columbus match.
  • “He obviously has proven he belongs here this year,” Union manager John Hackworth said. “Preseason, he was definitely prepared for the opportunity he was given and he played well. I say it all the time, but players have to be ready for when they get their name called. Leo, early in the season, has gotten his name called twice and has played very well. It’s a great sign for him and a great sign for us, too.”
  • Union maintained their 4-2-3-1 scheme installed over the offseason, meaning Conor Casey is still awaiting his 2013 debut. He started the season suffering from a calf injury.
  • “I wanted to make sure Conor is 100 percent. I think he could have played in that game ñ probably 15-20 minutes. But there are other guys, and the staff decided it wasn’t the best option in that game,” Hackworth said. “In the big picture, you’re going to see Conor play in a lot of games this year. The reality is, it might move McInerney out wide or you might put Conor straight up for Jack. I’m happy with Jack, so when it comes to player selection, you have to make sure you’re not putting a guy on the bench who is playing well. We have to balance it out.”
  • Aaron Wheeler, converted from a striker to a center back over the offseason, made his first MLS start at the position, playing the full match in place of Austin Berry. Wheeler had come on as a substitute each of the first two games.
  • I thought we battled back into a difficult situation. We created plenty of chances. We had counter after counter and we just couldn’t pull a play off. We couldn’t execute that was our fault,” Hackworth said. “So we are not good in that regard, then to give up a goal in extra time in the first half was really, really frustrating.”

MONTREAL IMPACT

The Montreal Impact lost for the third time in as many starts to open the 2014 season, falling 2-0 to Seattle Sounders FC on Sunday afternoon at Stade Olympique. The Impact are in a tie for eighth place in the Eastern Conference with 0 points from 3 games.

LAST MATCH

  • Sounders FC took the lead after just eight minutes. From a free kick in the center of the park, Gonzalo Pineda curled a delivery in the box that found the head of Lamar Neagle. His header came back off the crossbar and rebounded off retreating Impact goalkeeper Troy Perkins into the net.
  • The visitors doubled the lead in the 58th minute. Kenny Cooper corralled a loose ball near the end line and pull back a cross for Obafemi Martins at the far post to head home.
  • Impact head coach Frank Klopas made no changes to the team that fell 1-0 to the Houston Dynamo at BBVA Compass Stadium.
  • MONTREAL IMPACT (4-2-3-1): Troy Perkins - Eric Miller, Matteo Ferrari, Hassoun Camara, Jeb Brovsky (Heath Pearce 69) - Patrice Bernier (Blake Smith 70), Hernan Bernardello (Santiago Gonzalez 78) - Collen Warner, Felipe Martins, Justin Mapp - Andrew Wenger.

TEAM NEWS

  • The Impact have lost three consecutive games to start the season for the first time in their MLS history. They began their inaugural campaign in 2012 with an 0-4-1 record.
  • “We are home and we gave up an early goal,” said head coach Frank Klopas. “If we look at the game, our overall possession, quality crosses, ability to get in good spots and to then come away with nothing, it just seems like we’re not getting any little breaks. Although, the guys pushed all the way to the end and worked extremely hard so we have to keep going forward.”
  • After back-to-back shutouts, the Impact have now gone 205 minutes without scoring, since the second goal in the 3-2 loss at FC Dallas.
  • The Impact also allowed another goal from a set piece, the Sounders FC opener scored by Lamar Neagle coming from a free kick. Two of the six goals allowed by Montreal this season have come from deadball situations.
  • “Giving up goals on set pieces is frustrating. This league is built on duels and winning the ball in the box. We have to concentrate and focus when defending these situations,” said defender Hassoun Camara. Added Matteo Ferrari: “We have to work hard in defense; but it’s not just the four from the defense, it’s the attitude of the team. We already [gave up] six goals, but they're too much. We can't handle it like that.”
  • For a third consecutive game, Klopas ran out Andrew Wenger as a lone striker in the Impact tactical scheme.
  • “Every time you play balls to the middle, you’ve got to have guys that are moving off [Wenger],” Klopas said. “And we talked about it before the game: finding the gaps between the lines when you play balls to him. Then you’ve got to have midfielders that move in so you lay balls off. It’s very difficult to have a guy on your back that’s 200 pounds and holding balls off. So he definitely moved at the right moments, but we needed to give him more options so we could play it quicker and get the ball out wide where we had success.”
  • After serving their three-match suspensions to open the season, levied following the Impact’s match in the MLS Cup Playoffs a year ago, Marco Di Vaio and Andres Romero will both be available for duty.
  • “Marco is a player that brings fear to the other team and more confidence to our team by knowing that you have a guy on your side that can change the game in the spur of a moment,” said Patrice Bernier. “We still, as a team, need to be a unit and create better chances for ourselves. Maybe having Marco back will give us fresh legs and that spark to come out with some points next game.”
  • Added Klopas: “Marco does have very good qualities and will make any team better. I know Marco feels the same as us in that the team comes first. He never wants to lose and the group feeds off of that.”