Chester, PA - The Chicago Fire made their only trip to PPL Park this Saturday to take on the Philadelphia Union for the second time this season. The Union have been looking like an improved side since firing Piotr Nowak in June, but with Jack McInerney out on suspension and Carlos Valdez out from international duty, this was a game that the Fire should walk away from with three points and nothing less.
A quick run down of tonight's action after the break.
Early on in the match, Chicago struggle to put a consistent attack together, but they did manage two very solid chances on goal. One chance came from Sherjill MacDonald, who appeared to get turned in the penalty area by a Union defender grabbing his arm. Unfortunately, there was no call. The second early chance came from Alvaro Fernandez who had a great look on goal but had to chip the ball over an onrushing Zac MacMath. Alvaro chipped it a little too hard and sent it over the goal.
The Union looked to be the better squad early on as they had a majority of the possession and a couple of dangerous opportunities in the early minutes. Much of Philly's success, however, was owed to Chicago's defensive ineptitude. Chicago's back line made a number of careless passes and allowed too many Union players space around the penalty box.
In the 26th minute, Chicago had an injury scare as Logan Pause landed awkwardly after jumping on a set piece. Pause would return to the game before getting subbed off about 20 minutes later. Hopefully, this is nothing serious as Pause was able to walk off the field under his own strength. Patrick Nyarko was subbed on for Logan Pause in the 44th minute.
In the 33rd minute, Jalil Anibaba put the Union ahead by unintentionally redirecting a Chandler Hoffman...well, I'm not exactly sure what Hoffman was attempting, but whatever it was, Anibaba put in the back of the net.
The Philly goal seemed wake the Fire up as Chicago's attack began to pick up. In the 43rd minute, Sherjill MacDoanald completely owned former Fire defender Bakary Soumare down the flank and sent a ball into the front of the net where Chris Rolfe could tap it in for a goal.
Then in added time of the first half, the Fire took the lead as Arne Freidrich headed home a corner kick past Zach MacMath for his first career Major League Soccer goal.
Philly started the second half fired up and immediately began pushing down field trying to get the equalizer. in the 50th Minute, Chandler Hoffman cam close to tying the game up off a shot right in front of net. In general, the Union were pressuring, but most of their attempts seemed more desperate than anything. Keon Daniel fired two consecutive off-target shots from quit a distance away from goal.
The Fire struck again in the 56th minute as Rolfe blasted a shot from outside of the penalty area. Zac MacMath got a mit on the ball, but the shot powered it's way through, giving Rolfe his 2nd goal of the game and 4th of the season.
in the 59th minute, Sherjill found himself in a 1-on-1 with MacMath on a counter attack. MacMath came up huge and denied Sherjill his first MLS goal. His save basically kept
The Union continued to fight, but the Chicago defense looked much tighter in the second half and snuffed out any opportunity Philly got. With so many Union players committed forward, the Fire had a few dangerous looking counter attacking opportunities, but came up empty handed.
Michael Farfan came close to getting the Union back into the game in the 60th minute but his shot was deflected off the left post.
Sherjill MacDonald came close again to getting his first MLS goal in 66th minute. He had another beautiful look on goal, but fired his shot just a little high. It would be his last shot of the game as he would be subbed off in the 70th minute for Michael Videra.
Aside from Nyarko getting beat up a little and Rolfe nearly getting a hat-trick, not a whole lot worth mentioning happened beyond the 70th minute. Philly seemed to give up after the 80th minute. Chicago didn't just sit on the lead for the final minutes, but there was definitely a lot of time wasting going on.
With the win, Chicago now passes D.C. United to take 4th place in the Eastern Conference with 38 points and a game in hand on the top three teams. Chicago will have to face Philly once more this season on October 3rd at Toyota Park. Chicago's next game is Saturday, August 18th against the New England Revolution at Toyota Park..