Julian Carranza continued his fine run of form as he scored twice in the Philadelphia Union's 3-0 win against CF Montreal at Subaru Park.
Carranza opened the scoring in the 12th minute as he bent a shot into the far bottom corner from the edge of the penalty area.
The Argentine turned provider in the 36th minute when his low-driven cross was deflected towards the Montreal goal, forcing James Pantemis to palm away. The ball sat perfectly for Mikael Uhre to rifle the ball into the top corner from a tight angle to double Philadelphia's lead.
Just after the hour, Carranza scored his second in fortunate fashion. He and Daniel Gazdag played a one-two before Carranza shot goalward from 20 yards. The ball took two deflections before looping over the head of a helpless Pantemis to put the game out of sight.
The Philadelphia Union made three changes to the starting XI that beat Charlotte 1-0 in midweek. Nate Harriel, Matt Real and Jesus Bueno came into the starting XI, while Damion Lowe, Olivier Mbaizo and Jose Martinez dropped to the bench.
Harriel had the first opportunity of note in the eighth minute. Bueno ran onto a through ball, and as he latched onto the ball, he had Harriel making an underlapping run. The Venezuelan midfielder backheeled it into the path of Harriel, who struck the ball inside the box. His initial effort was blocked, and the ball fell back to him. However, he failed to hit the target with his second shot at goal.
In the 12th minute, Julian Carranza gave the Union the lead with a fantastic strike. Real got to the ball down the left before cutting it back to the forward, who was just inside the penalty area. Carranza took a touch to bring the ball to the outside of the box to create space before bending a shot into the far bottom corner with a right-footed effort.
Real was at the heart of the action moments later as he provided a goal-saving block. Montreal had the ball on the left and played a low-driven cross towards the six-yard box. It found its way to Zachary Brault-Guillard, who directed the ball goalward. The attempt was going to cause Andre Blake a problem, but Real was on hand to get in front of the ball to block the shot.
Daniel Gazdag forced James Pantemis into a save in the 19th minute. Gazdag received the ball inside the penalty area before aiming a powerful strike towards the near post, but Pantemis got a big hand on the ball to send it wide of the post.
Mikael Uhre had a good opportunity moments later as Philadelphia began to ramp up the pressure. Gazdag played the ball into the feet of the forward, who turned before sending a left-footed effort towards the far corner. It failed to test Pantemis as it curled wide of the goal.
Blake was called into action to deny Lassi Lappalainen. Ahmed Hamdi played an excellent defence-splitting pass towards Sunusi Ibrahim, which left the Union exposed at the back. Ibrahim then smartly backheeled the ball into the path of Lappalainen, who was one-on-one with Blake inside the box. The Jamaican international quickly came off his line to close down the angle and made a huge save to keep Philadelphia in front.
In the 36th minute, Uhre doubled the Philadelphia advantage. Real's attempted cross into the box eventually fell to the feet of Harriel, who played a pass down the right of the box for Carranza to run onto. The Argentine tried to direct a low-driven ball towards the six-yard box, but it took a deflection sending it goalward. It forced Pantemis to push the ball away, but it came out to Uhre, who smashed the ball into the far top corner from close range at a tight angle.
HALF-TIME: Philadelphia Union 2-0 CF Montreal
Montreal made three changes at half-time as they looked to find a way back into the game. Matko Miljevic, Mason Toye and Joel Waterman replaced Bryce Duke, Lappalainen and Ilias Iliadis.
The Union made it three just after the hour. Leon Flach played a pass towards Carranza, who then played a one-two with Gazdag. Carranza struck the ball goalward from around 20 yards, and it took two deflections before looping over the head of Pantemis and bouncing into the back of the net.
Carranza had a golden opportunity to complete his hat-trick a few minutes later. Uhre did well to take the ball past Waterman before trying to square the ball across the box for Gazdag to score a tap-in. However, a Montreal defender did well to cut out the pass, but his attempted clearance only went as far as Carranza, who fired the ball over the crossbar from close range.
Harriel stung the palms of Pantemis in the 70th minute. Gazdag chipped the ball back to Harriel, who was on the edge of the penalty area. He took a good first touch before firing a powerful effort goalward on the half-volley, which Pantemis was equal to as he pushed it away from the danger.
Philadelphia were inches away from adding a fourth through Jack Elliott. Kai Wagner curled a corner in from the left, which was eventually headed by a Montreal defender into the path of Elliott. He drilled the ball towards the far post, where Waterman was stood, as he cleared the ball off the line with it inches away from crossing it.
FULL-TIME: Philadelphia Union 3-0 CF Montreal
Philadelphia Union: Blake, Harriel, Glesnes, Elliott, Wagner, Real (Lowe 63'), Bueno (Martinez 63'), Flach (Perea 78'), Gazdag, Carranza, Uhre (Torres 77')
Unused Substitutes: Bendik, Mbaizo, Odada, Rafanello, Donovan
CF Montreal: Pantemis, Corbo (Jabang 81'), Campbell, Thorkelsson, Brault-Guillard, Saliba, Iliadis (Waterman 46'), Duke (Miljevic 46'), Hamdi, Lappalainen (Toye 46'), Ibrahim (Rea 64')
Unused Substitutes: Ketterer, Herrera, Vilsaint, Kwizera