Home MLS Montreal Impact Union edges Impact after wild finish to match

Union edges Impact after wild finish to match

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After 80 minutes of 0-0 soccer, Saturday’s match between the Philadelphia Union and Montreal Impact exploded with three goals in the final 10 minutes and change.

Unfortunately, for the Montreal Impact, the Philadelphia Union got two of them.

A bizarre, frenetic finale was punctuated by a stoppage time goal from Union defender Carlos Valdes, as the red hot Union handed the Impact its fourth loss in its last five matches, a 2-1 decision at PPL Park.

A long throw from Union defender Sheanon Williams wasn’t cleared by the Impact defence, and Valdes was able to hook a low shot over the line. Not only did the goal give the red-hot Union another win under interim coach John Hackworth, it also got keeper Zac MacMath off the hook.

That’s because in the 89th minute, MacMath collided with a couple of his own players on what looked to be a harmless corner kick from Patrice Bernier. The ball caromed into the goal — and the own goal was credited to Keon Daniel. But, really, it’s MacMath who should have paid for the team dinner Saturday night for not coming off the line stronger and calling off his defenders.

It ruined what had been a sterling night for the young goalkeeper, who twice made diving, sensational stops to rob Impact Designated Player Marco Di Vaio — one in each half. Di Vaio is still searching for his first MLS goal.

The scoring was opened with less than 10 minutes left in the second half. Two Philadelphia subs broke down the Impact, who had bravely resisted the red-hot Union for the majority of the match. Antoine Hoppenot skipped through a couple of Impact defenders and beat Montreal fullback Zarek Valentin to the touchline. Hoppenot tried to cut the ball into the front of the goal, but it hit keeper Donovan Ricketts. But, the big Jamaican couldn’t hold on, and Lionard Pajoy scrambled the ball in.

The Impact came in losers of three of its last four games, and has given up the most goals in the league. Since Hackworth took over as interim coach of the Union, the team has been surging and scoring goals at will; including wins over Sporting Kansas City and last week’s 3-0 domination of Toronto FC.

But, for 80 minutes, the stars of the game were Impact centre halves Shavar Thomas and, especially, Hassoun Camara. It’s ironic — a team brings in a couple of new players on defence, and the defenders who could be in risk of losing their jobs elevate their games.

Centre half Alessandro Nesta was not available for the Impact’s match Saturday, and fullback Dennis Iapichino came in as a late sub. But Camara, the central defender brought over from last year’s NASL roster, looked for most of the game like a true stopper out there. He won 50-50 ball after 50-50 ball, and made an outstanding sliding challenge on a ball that looked like it was going to put Daniel in the clear late in the first half.

But, even though it took more than 80 minutes to break the deadlock, it’s not like there weren’t chances before that.

The Union, coming off a U.S. Open Cup semifinal loss to Sporting Kansas City, came out strong in the first 10 minutes, and Ricketts had to make a diving stop on a low drive from Freddy Adu.

But the Impact dominated much of the first half, an Felipe came close to opening the scoring, looping a header off the bar off a nice cross from Justin Mapp.

In the second half, Ricketts was called upon to make several excellent saves.

Off a Williams cross, Union forward Jack McInerney made a driving run and got his head to the ball. To complicate matters, the ball deflected on Camara — but Ricketts was able to swat the ball away.

Ricketts outdid himself with a double save later in the second half. He dove to stop Gabriel Farfan’s attempt, then got up and smothered Pajoy’s try to put home the rebound.

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