CF Montréal rallies to edge Union for first victory of MLS season

Romell Quioto’s 11th-hour heroics saved the day, avoiding a devastating fourth consecutive defeat for CFM.

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That it took four games, or the fact it came on a penalty kick in the third minute of the match, were rendered moot about two hours later, when CFM registered its first win this season under chaotic conditions and in improbable fashion.

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Just when it appeared likely the home side was destined for a fourth consecutive defeat after falling apart in the second half, CF Montréal rallied for a 3-2 victory against the undermanned Philadelphia Union in the team’s regular-season home opener before 23,352 Olympic Stadium spectators.

Quioto, who scored a team-leading 15 goals last season, fought through Union defenders to head home Mathieu Choinière’s long cross just past goalkeeper Joe Bendik and the far post. Bendik was starting for the injured Andre Blake, nursing a groin injury.

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The Union, which finished first in the Eastern Conference last season, now has a 2-2 record and was reduced to 10 men in the 69th after Julian Carranza was issued a red card for a late challenge on Joel Waterman.

The game wasn’t without controversy.

Referee Nima Saghafi, following a video review, initially disallowed Offor’s goal, believing the play was offside. It was only after a complaint from the CFM coaching staff — relayed to captain Victor Wanyama — that a second video review was ordered. And this time, the goal counted.

“We had to push because there was a player on the line off the post; there was an opponent there,” Wanyama explained. “The (video review) wasn’t picking it up. But we have a good bench and they follow up everything, although we had to complain about that. We’re happy they turned down the decision and they gave us the goal.”

Although he obviously disagreed with the decision, Union head coach Jim Curtin was remarkably restrained, but made his feelings painfully clear.

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“Much more chaotic than I’d like,” he said. “It hurts for sure. I’ve never seen anything like that in my life. Within all the chaos, I had no idea what they were even looking at because they don’t have to explain it for some reason. I don’t know what they were looking for … but they don’t have to answer any questions.

“Look, I’m not going to just blame the chaotic (nature) of the game. Anywhere in the world, if you’re watching an MLS game for the first time, I would just say you wouldn’t be impressed with the chaos. That’s not good for our league — review, called back, goal, no goal, scramble. It’s not good for anybody. I know everybody tries to do the best they can and I understand when there’s mistakes and I know they try to get it right, but just to the eyeballs that can’t look good for anyone. I guess it was exciting for the fans, but it’s not professional.”

The 11th-hour heroics saved the day for CFM, while avoiding a devastating fourth consecutive defeat, although it appeared the club would be unable to take advantage of the extra man. Of Philadelphia’s 11 shots, seven were on target, forcing Sirois to make five saves.

“I think I’m getting more comfortable each game,” Sirois said. “I’m just trying to learn every game, trying to fix one or two things I can always do better.”

CFM, which started last season 0-3-1 before rallying to finish second, returns to action April 1, following the international break, at Vancouver.

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