CF Montréal garners valuable point in draw against strong Philadelphia Union

Julián Carranza opened the scoring for Philadelphia on a penalty in the 21st minute before CFM’s Kei Kamara scored the equalizer in the 59th.

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CF Montreal’s magical Major League Soccer run continues.

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The team might not have been the better side on this day, but they nonetheless escaped with a 1-1 draw against the Philadelphia Union Saturday afternoon before 18,476 spectators at Subaru Park in Chester, Pa.

Julián Carranza opened the scoring for Philadelphia on a penalty in the 21st minute before Kei Kamara scored the equalizer in the 59th. The Union could have easily been leading by more than one goal at halftime.

CFM started the regular season with three successive defeats, while also being involved in Champions League play. But since being eliminated from the prestigious tournament, the club is undefeated in five matches, now with an overall record of 3-3-2.

The draw also avenged a 2-1 loss against the Union earlier this season at the Olympic Stadium.

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And this one had to be considered an impressive effort, coming on the road against the Eastern Conference-leading Union, now 5-1-2. Philadelphia had won three successive contests on its home pitch and has lost only eleven in its last 20 games, dating back to May.

It wasn’t the most scintillating opening half CFM has played this season, with the visitors looking nothing like the side that has played reasonably well of late. Their play was disjointed, and there was trouble defending as well.

In the 12th minute, the Union missed a glorious opportunity to take an early lead against a team that has been prone to allowing early goals. Mikael Uhre had a chance on the left flank, but instead of shooting, he attempted a cross that went behind Leon Flach. Call it human error or a lack of selfishness.

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Nonetheless, it was a harbinger of how the match would unfold.

In the 19th, Canadian international defender Kamal Miller made a questionable challenge in the box on Carranza, who had been set up by Dániel Gazdag. It was a borderline play at best. Nonetheless, referee Lukasz Szpala pointed immediately to the spot, indicating a penalty.

Carranza, formerly of Inter Miami, scored his third goal in four games. CFM goalkeeper Sebastian Breza, never strong on penalties, dove to his right. Carranza, on a soft touch, looped the ball to the left of Breza, a well-taken opportunity.

While CF Montréal directed five shots at goalkeeper Andre Blake, he made two routine saves.

In the 30th, Ismaël Koné took a shot from a distance that bounced before it was parried away by Blake. Nine minutes later, leading scorer Djordje Mihailovic, also from a distance, directed an effort that didn’t miss the far post by much.

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Trying to produce some kind of attack, CFM manager Wilfried Nancy inserted veteran striker Kamara to begin the second half. The 37-year-old replaced Sunusi Ibrahim. Kamara, with seven career goals in 14 games against the Union, announced his retirement days ago from international competition with Sierra Leone.

Kamara made Nancy look like a genius when, despite sliding, he beat Jakob Glesnes to the ball for CF Montréal’s opening goal. Kamara converted a pretty cross from Romell Quioto.

It was the 132nd goal of Kamara’s legendary career. It also marked Quito’s first assist this season. It was only the second goal conceded by the Union at home this season.

Repentigny midfielder Samuel Piette made his regular-season debut — a late second-half substitute — following an ankle injury that sidelined him for three months.

CFM plays its next two matches at Saputo Stadium, starting next Saturday afternoon at 4 pm when it hosts Atlanta United.

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