Here’s how Chicago will lineup: Lampson, Vincent, Meira, Kappelhof, Polster, McCarty, Conner, Solignac, Mihailovic, Alvarez, Nikolic.
Pregame Thought: Happy to see that Joao Meira is back in the starting lineup. I am a big fan of the Portuguese defender, and I think that the Fire are generally a better team when he is on the pitch. Hopefully he will bring stability back to Chicago’s defense today and going forward into the playoffs.
1- And we’re off!
2- Lots of #USMNT talk to start the broadcast. <sighs heavily>
3- GOOOOOOOOOOAL!!!! Nemanja Nikolic scores his 22nd goal go of the season! To quote Dan Kelly, “the boot is starting to look pretty golden!” Vincent gets the assist for his ball over the top.
5- Fabinho whips a ball into Chicago’s technical area, but Pontius’ header floats harmlessly over the crossbar.
5- Meira remained down for a moment. He seemed to have turned his ankle a little trying to cover that ball into the box. He’s back on his feet.
6- Goal - Philadelphia Union - Sapong’s slashing shot is tapped home by.... Johan Kappelhof. The Fire fell asleep there, and this one is tied 1-1.
10- This game is so open it feels like there’s 10 minutes left, not that we’re 10 minutes in. Both teams are asking questions of one another’s defenses.
13- Goal - Philadelphia Union - Lampson is at fault for this one. He didn’t commit to closing out fast enough, and Bedoya was able to chip him at the back post.
15- Another chance for Philly. Sapong finds some space at the penalty spot, but Lampson is able to get down to make the save.
17- Nikolic with a chance! Alvarez’s corner finds Meira at the near post, who flicks it on, and Nikolic nearly heads home his second goal of the day.
20- Mihailovic finds Luis Solignac at the back post! But the Argentine can only turn his header wide of the goal.
23- Conner does well to win a tackle on the top of Philly’s box, but Alvarez’s ensuing cross could not beat the first defender.
27- Alvarez’s ball nearly picks out Solignac who was darting to the far post. Philly manage to get a toe on it and it roles out for a corner.
29- Vincent and Pontius smack heads during an aerial duel. Both players are back on their feet after being a little shaken up.
32- Lampson doing Lampson things. The Fire’s goalkeeper plays a pass out for ... a corner. I didn’t know someone could misplace a pass so badly.
36- Chicago just can’t make the critical pass in the final third right now. They’ll need to be sharper if they want to turn this game around.
42- Meira clears away a Philadelphia half-chance. The Fire can’t get anything going right now.
44- Polster makes a hard run to the top of the box, and McCarty is able to pick him out with a pass. The outside back decides to pass instead of shoot, though, and nothing comes of the chance.
45+1- One minute of added time for the first half.
Halftime Thought: The Fire look sloppy, and are lacking their normal cutting edge in the final third. I think bringing Accam on would be hugely beneficial to this team to start the second half.
46- David Accam comes on for Drew Conner. Paunovic seems to have one thing on his mind: goals.
49- Alvarez whips in a ball to the near post and Accam is nearly able to get on the end of it. Philly manages to clear, though, and Blake easily catches the ensuing corner.
52- Fabinho brings down Polster from behind near the end line. Alvarez steps up to serve the ball. Nikolic is brought down at the back post. No penalty given.
54- Accam releases Mihailovic down the left flank, but the 18-year-old is once again unable to pick out Nikolic with a first-time pass.
58- Alvarez and Nikolic exchange passes outside of Philadelphia’s technical area, and Alvarez’s strike is eventually turned behind for a corner.
60- Blake does well to come and smother a chance. Nikolic nearly picked out Mihailovic with a clever pass, but the Jamaican goalkeeper beats the youngster to the ball.
63- The referee has pointed to the spot! Accam was brought down by Elliot as the Ghanaian dribbled away from the goal.
64- GOOOOOAL! That’s 23 goals on the season for #23. Blake guesses the right way, but Nikolic is still able to finish the spot kick. All square at 2-2.
66- Dicey moments for the Fire. First, hints of a hand ball on Vincent. Second, Meira barely gets a toe on the ball and is lucky not to give up a penalty.
70- Alvarez scoops a free kick over the wall, but McCarty lost his footing and the chance was gone.
75- The Fire look much sharper so far this half. Paunovic wanted the Men in Red to play with energy, and they have not disappointed through 75 minutes.
77- Niko tries to lay the ball off for Accam, but the ball spins off the Hungarian’s foot and into the hands of Blake.
78- GOOOAL! Nikolic gets his hat trick! Accam springs Vincent down the left flank, and the young outside back does wonderfully to pick out Niko at the top of the box. Nikolic coolly passed it by Blake and into the far post. #23 now has 24 on the season!
84- McCarty nearly picks Accam out down the left side of the pitch. The ball is just too far in front of the speedy striker, though, and Elliot is able to clear.
85- Alvarez and Nikolic exchange back heels at the top of Philly’s box, but they are unable to really open up the Union’s back line.
86- Philly looks very static for a team that is losing. Not a lot of desire to go forward and get a goal.
87- Accam breaks into the box and dances around two Philadelphia defenders. He eventually earns Chicago a corner.
89- Solignac with a great defensive effort. The Argentine earns a free kick at the midfield line after breaking up a Philadelphia attack.
90+1- We’ll be having three minutes of added time.
90+1- Nikolic is replaced by David Arshakyan. A standing ovation for the Hungarian as he leaves the field tonight.
90+3- Arshakyan does well to hold the ball up at midfield. The big forward is eventually fouled and Chicago can take even more time off the clock.
90+3- There’s the whistle!
Final Whistle Thought: The Fire manage to salvage this game. It was not an overly convincing win, but it gets them what they need: 3 points. with NYCFC falling 2-1 to New England today, the Fire are now within one point of second place in the East (and a first round bye in the playoffs).