On a night that was supposed to be a celebration, there wasn't much of anything except sadness for the 16,375 Fire fans in attendance on a cool, wet Wednesday in Chicagoland. The Fire came out flat, and never seemed to get it going like they would have not even two weeks before. And the Philadelphia Union took advantage. They scored early and never looked back and came away from Bridgeview with a 3-1 victory.
The first goal came just 7 minutes in. Jack McInerney receved a through pass from Danny Cruz. He then danced around Arne Friedrich, and slotted it past Sean Johnson in to the back of the net. "Normally, if a defender steps up, the rest have to cover." Friedrich said. "It's what we did very good for weeks. Today we didn't do it good."
Cruz left the match for Gabriel Gomez after being Injured in the 45+1 minute, and from the sound of interim head coach John Hackworth, it doesn't sound good. "It looks like he might have a fracture there. We have to evaluate it. Our medical crew is already on it, but he'll be evaluated with x-rays and MRIs when he gets back to Philadelphia."
The second half was almost as bad as the first. Boos rained down on Toyota Park in the 66th Minute when Gabriel Gomez put one top corner, far post to make Philly go up 2-nil. A lob from the foot of Michael Farfan opened the defense, allowing the goal scorer McInerney to head it down to the feat of Gomez, who promptly one-timed it across Sean Johnson's body into the top corner. The shot was picture perfect, and there was nothing Sean Johnson could do about it.
Almost immediately, the Fire got one back, as Dominic Oduro ended his goalless streak in the 69th. Patrick Nyarko made Raymon Gaddis look like a U-16 player as he danced around him, then played a nice 1-2 with Guillermo Franco, who came in to the game at the 63 minute mark for Alvero Fernandez. Flaco played his worst game in red tonight. Nyarko got the ball to the feat of Oduro, who with his off foot, steered it past a surprised Zack McMath and into the back of the net.
It was a game then for all of 10 minutes. Franco was sent off for what looked like a 50-50 ball. "I went for the ball, it was a normal play at midfield, neither relevant nor dangerous" Franco said. " I [explained] to [the] ref I was on the field to play and [was] not diving or elbowing anybody. And on the first 50-50 ball that I go for I get sent off. This is the first time that I come in as a sub and get sent off."
To add insult to injury, the Fire let in a third, as Antoine Hoppenot cheekily backheeled a ball from Michael Farfan around a lunging Sean Johnson to ice the game at 3 to 1 in the 87th minute.
The Fire were awful. There is no way to sugarcoat it. And Leo Percovich was honest in the post game press conference. "They way we started the game was bad. We expected to change something in the game to get it better but with the way we started we didn't have the right attitude to win the game.
"I think it was the worst game we've played of the season. Especially when we play at home you never expected that. And tonight, humbling. They played. We saw the pressure. We put too much pressure on ourselves, I don't know. We couldn't find each other. And you saw. We were with the ball, we were very different than we were before. And sometimes that happens. This is soccer. This is not a science. Sometimes soccer works on emotion. It's not an exact science. Sometime these things happen and they happen in the worst moments. You never expect it. That's why we reorganize. Try to take the experience of what happened tonight and get ready for the next games because there's another opportunity three, four days later."
It's was a weird night at Toyota Park. The normally pristine pitch was splotchy and slippery and full of patched sod. It was rainy, but not really. And there was a drumline on the west side of the stadium. Seriously. The Alan B Shepard High School drumline were invited to play in the stadium during the game by the front office after doing a 30 minute set in the tailgate area.
The Players realized they stunk, and took full responsibly after the match. "This was the perfect opportunity to win, but sometime there are games where nothing comes. We were very sloppy in the final third tonight and that was our own fault," said Sherjill MacDonald.
When we roll the ball out it's our responsibly," said Dan Gargan, who played at left back because of the Red Card suspension of Gonzalo Segares. "We didn't do the job we needed to do. It's as simple as that."
While it did not affect the outcome of the result, the officiating was atrocious and reprehensible once again. The lack of consistency, not only from match to match, but from half to half and minute to minute was just plain bad. We keep saying it, and they insist something is being done, but the USSF needs to be quicker with the referee fix.
The one bright spot for the Fire? Patrick Nyarko was routinely making the people defending him on the ball look silly. And one of those times ended in the back of the net.
Chicago Fire 1 - 3 Philadelphia Union
Chicago Fire: Sean Johnson; Jalil Anibaba, Arne Friedrich, Austin Berry, Dan Gargan (Alex 77'); Alvaro Fernandez(Guillermo Franco 63'; red card 79'), Logan Pause © (Dominic Oduro 46'), Daniel Paladini, Patrick Nyarko; Chris Rolfe, Sherjill MacDonald
Substitutes not used: Paolo Tornaghi, Michael Videira, Corben Bone, Wells Thompson
Philadelphia Union: Zac MacMath; Sheanon Williams, Amobi Okugo, Carlos Valdes ©, Raymon Gaddis; Michael Lahoud, Brian Carroll, Michael Farfan; Danny Cruz (Gabriel Gomez 45+'), Keon Daniel (Chris Albright 78'), Jack McInerney (Antoine Hoppenot 71')
Substitutes not used: Chris Konopka, Zach Pfeffer, Roger Torres, Chandler Hoffman
PHI - Jack McInerney (Danny Cruz) 7'
PHI - Gabriel Gomez (Jack McInerney) 67'
CHI - Dominic Oduro (unassisted) 69'
PHI - Antoine Hoppenot (Michael Farfan) 87'
PHI - Michael Lahoud (caution; Foul) 18'
CHI - Austin Berry (caution; Dissent) 45'
PHI - Sheanon Williams (caution; Time Wasting) 78'
CHI - Guillermo Franco (ejection; Foul) 79'
Referee: Abbey Okulaja
Assistants: Kermit Quissenberry, Peter Manikowski
Fourth Official: Edvin Jurisevic