After enjoying his first win as head coach of CF Montreal, Hernan Losada was still struggling to explain what had just happened.
“This is football,” he said. “That’s why fans come to the stadium, and that’s why it’s the most popular sport in the world.”
The fans got their money’s worth when Romell Quioto hit the target in second-half stoppage time to give Montreal a dramatic 3-2 victory over the Philadelphia Union on Saturday night.
The Honduran easily beat an opposing defender and then redirected a Mathieu Choiniere cross behind goalkeeper Joe Bendik to give Montreal CF (1-3-0) its first win of the season in its home opener.
“The win feels good, and so does the way it was done,” said Losada. “Tonight, we didn’t deserve to lose the three points. I’m relieved, but more for the players than for me. I have always felt the support of everyone in the team. The players have worked very well and have given everything since the beginning of the season.”
CF Montreal’s Romell Quioto (30) celebrates his goal against the Philadelphia Union during first half MLS soccer action in Montreal, Saturday, March 18, 2023. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Graham Hughes
All the celebration would not have happened without Chinonso Offor’s first goal in a CF Montreal uniform in the 90th minute of play.
In a bizarre sequence that only seems to happen in MLS, Offor had his goal disallowed after a video replay check before finally being awarded after another check.
The referees clarified the situation after the game, confirming that it was Union defender Kai Wagner, positioned in the right corner of the pitch, who put Offor onside for the goal. The image had initially escaped referee Nima Saghafi’s notice during the first review.
“There was a player on the line on the right, and the video referee didn’t see it,” said defender Victor Wanyama. “We also have access to technology, so we had no choice but to complain. At the end of the day, we are happy that the goal was awarded.”
When he appeared before the media, Union head coach Jim Curtin still did not know what happened on the goal. The one thing he did know, however, was that he had never experienced a similar situation in his career.
“I have to say that I have never witnessed a situation like this. It’s not good for our league when a goal is disallowed after a check, and then it’s allowed after another check. I don’t even know what the explanation is,” he said.
It was a red card for Julian Carranza in the 69th minute after a hard tackle on Joel Waterman that opened the door for the Bleu-Noir. Losada made four changes to create more chances in attack, and the result was positive.
“We found solutions with the four changes at the end,” he said. “It was all or nothing. Sometimes it works, and sometimes it doesn’t. Before the game, you can do a lot of planning, but on the day of the game, things can turn out differently. In the end, we got the three points and made our fans happy.”
CF Montreal fans cheer on their team following a goal during second half MLS soccer action against the Philadelphia Union in Montreal, Saturday, March 18, 2023. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Graham Hughes
Quioto also ended CF Montreal’s 273-minute goal drought when he took a penalty to open the scoring.
Mikael Uhre almost made it 2-0, but the Union (2-2-0) suffered their first defeat in seven meetings with the Montreal team since the start of the 2020 season.
The Montreal club will be able to rest during the international break before returning to action on Saturday, April 1, against the Whitecaps in Vancouver.
The energy of the 23,352 fans at Olympic Stadium quickly gave Montreal a boost, as they scored their first goal of the season after just three minutes of play.
Choinière’s shot hit defender Jakob Glesnes’ left hand in the penalty area, giving the Montrealers a penalty. Quioto, the team’s top scorer last year, did not miss the opportunity, lobbing the ball into the top corner.
Buoyed by the goal, the bleu-noir were more insistent in the first quarter of the game, but did not add to their lead. The best chance came from the foot of Mason Toye, who saw his volley narrowly miss the target.
Quietly, the Union managed to establish their rhythm and had several chances to score late in the first half, but Jonathan Sirois found a way to put his stamp on the game.
The Quebec goalkeeper shut down Alejandro Bedoya, Jack Elliott and Uhre in the space of three minutes before the referee blew the whistle to end the half.
But Sirois was unable to do anything when his team came back on the field to start the second half. Some sloppy passing allowed the Union to get the ball back. Daniel Gazdag found Uhre on the edge of the box, and he hit the target with a low shot.
The Gazdag-Uhre duo played the ball back to the Montreal side in the 60th minute. Uhre broke away from defenders Rudy Camacho and Waterman to latch onto a superb pass from Gazdag and scored his second goal of the game.
After Carranza was sent off for a second yellow card, Montreal missed several chances in the box before finally escaping with the win.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published in French on March 18, 2023.