Philadelphia Union 2 Fabián 11’, Fontana 65’
Chicago Fire 0
You’d think that we’d be used to this now. This playing even with or better than your opponent and then blowing it with a couple of mistakes thing. And yet here we are, feeling angry, disappointed, dejected, sad. The 2019 Chicago Fire are a never ending nightmare, and I’m running out of metaphors to describe them.
The start was not great from the Fire. From the outset, it was clear who was where in the table, and that they each deserved their place. Philly was in control, and the Men in Red were playing catch-up. Then around the eighth or ninth minute, things started looking up. CJ Sapong made a great run on the left, but his cross was behind both Nemanja Nikolic, making his first start in a while, and Fabian Herbers. It was a good show of intent, and let the Union know they were in for a game.
Everything came crumbling down a minute later. A foul was won on the left side of the Fire penalty area. Instead of putting the ball into the box, Haris Medunjanin played the ball to Kai Wagner, waiting at the top of the box. He made a lateral pass over to Marco Fabián on the perimeter, who had nothing but time and space to direct a rocket of a shot passed everybody, including a diving Kenneth Kronholm.
It was revealed later by head coach Veljko Paunovic during his halftime interview that there was a miscommunication as to who was supposed to close out. It seems from the positioning that it was supposed to be Jorge Corrales, but we can’t say for sure. Regardless, the Fire were once again down early and had to try and find a way back into the match.
I suppose it’s to their credit that they did, for the most part, hang around. The ten minutes following the goal, the Fire were in legit control of the game, but of course, their poor form in front of goal that has dogged them all season was evident again. CJ Sapong missed two opportunities at headers that landed right at Andre Blake’s feet. Francisco Calvo hit a header over the bar, and Diego Campos hit the bar, late.
Philly put the game to bed in the 65th minute when Wagner was able to out maneuver all four Fire defenders, including Grant Lillard who came on for Jorge Corrales as an injury replacement, by going to ground to shield the ball, spinning up, and deflecting a pass off of Johan Kappelhof and onto the foot of Anthony Fontana who did not miss.
Watching this team, thinking about this team, is exhausting. It’s not just tonight. Tonight was predictable. Jim Curtin’s Philidelphia Union are the class of the Eastern Conference. Anything less than full points at home against one of the bottom teams would have been an embarrassment.
What’s exhausting is the piling on of mistake after mistake and bad performance after bad performance. It’s going into every game knowing that the Fire will always do something at some point to sabotage themselves.
It’s the same old story with this club, and I’m ready for a new one.
The Chicago Fire (5W 8D 10L, 23pts, 10th place) are back at it on Tuesday at home when they take on Cruz Azul in the first annual Leagues Cup.