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A View from the Top Row DC United vs CF Montréal Game Review


In the match between DC United and CF Montreal there was an intriguing clash of styles. Under Lesesne, United is playing a controlled pressing strategy, while CF Montreal under Courtois wants to play out of the back with a controlled possession game.

Right from the start of the game, DC United adopted an aggressive pressing strategy. Their forwards and midfielders relentlessly closed down Montreal players, denying them time and space to build up their attacks. The pressing was particularly effective in the middle third of the pitch, disrupting Montreal’s passing lanes and forcing hurried decisions.

DC United’s midfielders, led by Mateusz Klich and Matti Peltola, intelligently cut off passing lanes. They anticipated Montreal’s movements and intercepted passes, preventing the ball from even reaching the halfway line for much of the first 15 minutes.

By stifling Montreal’s passing options, the Black & Red disrupted Montreal’s rhythm and prevented them from establishing their controlled possession game.

United sought to capitalize on their forced turnovers. When they won the ball back, they quickly transitioned into attack mode. Stroud especially sought to exploit the spaces created by the turnovers, and made a number of crosses into dangerous areas. Unfortunately none were able to create any true chances.

The game had a chance of being truly frustrating with a number of realistic scoring opportunities going by the wayside for the home team. However a timely strike by Pedro Santos gave DC United a one goal advantage, which would be enough as Bono would record his second clean sheet of the season.

Head Coach Troy Lesesne earned his first victory on the sidelines.

DC United 1 CF Montreal 0

First Half: 

The Black & Red opened the game in dominant fashion and perhaps unfortunate not to take a lead.

Playing at Audi Field provided the Black & Red sought to take advantage of their home field. They played with energy and tenacity, which helped to create an electric atmosphere in the stadium, which fueled the team’s determination, and allowed United to keep up the press longer than usual.

Its best chance came in the 24th minute, when Benteke's header of a cross from the right forced Sirois into a sprawling reflex save.

Throughout the first half DC United had some very legitimate shots on goal. Benteke put one headed shot on goal that the goalie was able to get just enough of his fingertips on that it slowed the ball enough for a defender to clear it off the line. At another time Benteke got open in a crowd of defenders, but was too under the ball and it went over the bar. Then another time he put a header off the post. There were also shots from Stroud and Ted KDP that were blocked by defenders before they could go in. It seemed that at some point there would be a goal by DC.

That point nearly happened just before the end of the half. Ted KDP earned the Black & Red a free kick with his dribbling in tight spaces. A Montreal defender lashed out and caught the young forward’s ankle. Mateusz Klich stepped up and took the free kick. His shot was perfect, it bent around the wall and was on target, unfortunately, Jonathan Sirois, CF Montreal’s goalkeeper made a beautiful diving save. He was completely stretched out, and just got his hand on the ball.

At the half  DC United 0 CF Montreal 0

Second Half: 

The first half was pretty much DC United all over CF Montreal, and the second half continued much of that, though not quite as dominating. Benteke continued to use his size and strength to dominate the defense, and was unlucky to score.

Ted KDP continued to push the ball forward and demonstrated a second gear in the open field that seemed to catch Montreal off guard. It forced CF Montreal Center Back Joel Waterman into a cynical foul that was initially ruled a Red card offense, but was downgraded to a Yellow by VAR. It probably should have remained a Red, yes there was another defender past Ted KDP, so it wasn’t a sure scoring opportunity; however Waterman made no attempt on the ball, put his studs into Ted’s calf and heel, and is a really dangerous play, the Achilles ligament is extremely vulnerable to that tackle.

The game continued with both teams creating opportunities. Josef Martinez would get the best opportunity of the night for CF Montreal, when he was able to receive and turn with the ball at about the spot. His shot got past Bono, but not Aaron Herrera, who cleared the ball off the line.

The hero of the game would turn out to be Pedro Santos. The 35-year-old defender started the game on the bench, and came in to replace Conner Antley in the 74th minute.

In the scoring play, Benteke won the initial aerial challenge off a throw-in in the penalty area to keep the ball alive, and then it was only half-cleared by Montreal's defense.The ball ended up in front of Pedro Santos who ran up and shot with confidence to score his first goal of the season in the 85th minute. It was a one-touch shot from just inside the penalty box into the top corner of the net for the game's only goal.

As the game wound down, the Black & Red setup in a compact defensive shape with a lower block, denying Montreal any gaps to exploit. United’s backline worked well as a unit, making it difficult for Montreal’s attackers to find any pockets of space.

DC United’s high-intensity pressing, tactical discipline, and timely transitions stifled CF Montreal’s controlled play for most of the game, and when Montreal did create chances, individual United players made the plays necessary to keep the clean sheet. 

It was maybe harder than it had to be, but United earned those three points.

DC United 1 CF Montreal 0

Game Stats

Words from the Head Coach:

“A big message throughout the week: We want to push for more. We're not very happy with some of the draws we've had.”

“I wanted to see us get what we deserved. We deserve three points on the night, but we needed to go earn it, and we continued to push, and the guys that came on pushed in a big way. Not just because Pedro scores, but Kristian Fletcher, Jackson Hopkins, and Gabby Pirani come on and push. I’m very satisfied to see them realize what we probably should’ve done in a few of the draws this season.”

Observations From the Upper Deck: 

  • Surprised DC United came out in a 3-5-2

  • Connor Antley getting his second start

  • Pirani, starting on the bench a bit of a surprise

  • DC United came out like their hair was on fire. They are all over. See if Montreal.

  • Depress is working Montreal keeps turning the ball over

  • Klich is setting the tone

  • The press is really working tonight. 

  • Stroud with a cross but it’s cut off by the defender 

  • Klich forces a turnover 

  • Quick pass to Benteke 

  • GOAL!

  • Waived off for offsides 

  • More pressure by United 

  • Stroud needs Dajome or Benteke to make a near post run

  • Benteke heads the ball past the goalie, but the defender clears before it fully crosses the line 

  • Benteke headed the ball just over the goal 

  • Klich nearly scores on free kick

  • Curled the ball around the wall forcing a great save 

  • Halftime tied at zero 

  • Benteke headed the ball into the post 

  • Benteke spins past defender on a the throw in to get goal side on the defender 

  • Benteke is in on goal, but his shot is saved

  • Aaron Herrera saves a goal.

  • Joseph Martinez gets the ball wide-open net because they’re on the rebound put it on goal. Aaron Herrera takes it off the line.

  • Jackson Hopkins comes in the 62nd minute coming in for Peltola - that’s a surprise

  • Hopkins as a six

  • Hopkins is beginning to fill the Swiss Army knife role that Durkin played 

  • Conor Antley, the Right Center Back dribbled the ball all the way into Montreal’s box

  • 73rd minute Pirani comes in for Dajome 

  • Pedro Santos comes in Conor Antley

  • Lucky for DC, Ruan still doesn’t like to shoot because he was in on goal. He should have shot on goal but he crossed it and it was cut off by McVey

  • Ted KDP has jets!

  • Who knew he was that fast?

  • Ted taken down from behind 

  • Red Card to Waterman 

  • VAR Review waves off the Red Card

  • DC United passing the last two minutes of just not been as sharp guys not seeing the 

  • Montreal players are like falling over when you breathe on them. Luckily the ref isn't calling anything right now 

  • Hopkins plays the ball up to Benteke 

  • Aaron steals the ball to kill another Montreal scoring opportunity 

  • DC United is just keeping Montreal pin back right now. 

  • Herrera tries taking a shot from halfway line. The ball was on target but the goalie easily got back, but if the goalie had been slow that ball would’ve gone in 

  • Seven minutes of Stoppage time. That seems excessive

  • Game ends


Man of the Match: Mateusz Klich

Midfielder Mateusz Klich had a brilliant outing, creating five goal-scoring opportunities and making nine recoveries throughout the match. His presence on the field was crucial to D.C. United's success, contributing both defensively and offensively.

Player Ratings:

  • Alex Bono                      7.1

  • Conner Antley                8.0

  • Lucas Bartlett                 7.4

  • Christopher McVey     7.0

  • Aaron Herrera                 8.4

  • Cristian Dájome            6.5

  • Jared Stroud                6.8

  • Mateusz Klich                 8.2

  • Matti Peltola                    7.2

  • Ted Ku-DiPietro              7.6

  • Christian Benteke          8.5


  • Jackson Hopkins          6.7

  • Gabriel Pirani                   6.2

  • Pedro Santos                   7.7

  • Kristian Fletcher              6.7

Up Next: On the road at Stadium to play current MLS Cup Champions Columbus Crew.

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