CHESTER, Pa. – The Philadelphia Union and Montreal Impact continue to head in opposite directions.
Boosted by a pair of goals from the red-hot Sebastien Le Toux and the long-awaited return of center back Carlos Valdes, the Union earned a crucial 2-1 victory over the reeling Impact at a sold-out PPL Park on Saturday night.
Unbeaten in their last five, the Union (6-8-9) continue to close in one of the Eastern Conference’s last playoff spots under interim manager Jim Curtin.
A 79th-minute goal from Maxim Tissot was not enough for the Impact’s franchise-worst losing streak from hitting seven games and from last-place Montreal dropping to 3-14-5 on the season.
With his brace, Le Toux is now sixth in the league in scoring with 10 goals. The Frenchman has also scored 11 times in his last 14 games in all competitions, but hobbled off the field with a possible injury very late in stoppage time.
What proved to be the game-winner came in the 63rd minute when Le Toux gave the Union a 2-0 lead on an assist from former Impact striker Andrew Wenger, who made a marauding run just moments after coming in. After receiving the pass from Wenger, Le Toux danced around the ball a bit before hitting a shot that made it through traffic and past Montreal goalkeeper Troy Perkins.
Le Toux nearly completed the hat trick just a couple of minutes later but had a close-range shot sail just high.
The Impact cut it to 2-1 in the 79th minute after Tissot redirected a long free kick from Andres Romero, but they couldn’t get any closer than that.
In the 70th minute, the Impact nearly scored but an Anthony Jackson-Hamel backheel on a Krzysztof Krol cross hit off the far post and into the waiting arms of Union goalkeeper Zac MacMath, who remained Philly’s starter Saturday despite the recent signing of Algerian World Cup veteran Rais Mbolhi.
The Union opened the scoring in the 12th minute, thanks to a Montreal miscue.
After MacMath boomed a goal kick about 75 yards, Le Toux battled for the ball with Impact defenders Patrice Bernier and Krol. Under heavy pressure, Krol tried to head the ball to goalie Perkins but Le Toux pounced on the back pass, raced around Perkins and scored on an open net.
There were few other scoring chances in the first half, with Valdes, starting his first game back with Philly after a one-and-a-half-year loan spell in South America, slowing down a Montreal attack led by former Union striker Jack McInerney.
The Impact, despite controlling nearly 65 percent in the first half, didn’t have a shot on target until the 59th minute, when ex-Union midfielder Justin Mapp forced MacMath into a tough save.
Fresh off scoring his first MLS goal, Brian Brown whiffed on what should have been an easy tap-in in stoppage time for the Union, who improved to 2-3-2 all-time against Montreal with the result.
The Union have a quick turnaround, traveling to FC Dallas for a U.S. Open Cup semifinal game on Tuesday and then staying Texas to play Houston on Friday. The Impact return home to face Chicago next Saturday.
Dave Zeitlin covers the Union for MLSsoccer.com. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org
|Rank||Player||What We Saw|
|1||Sebastien Le Toux||A big brace for the Frenchman, who now has four goals in the Union’s last four matches.|
|2||Maurice Edu||Turned in a controlling shift in the center of the park, distributing well and destroying any semblance of rhythm for the Impact.|
|3||Maxim Tissot||Provided a late spark for the Impact, scoring a lovely goal to give Montreal hope.|