It wasn’t a win, and it certainly wasn’t perfect, but the Chicago Fire posted their highest scoring, most entertaining match of the season on a soggy Saturday at Soldier Field, drawing 3-3 with the Philadelphia Union.
Chicago defender Miguel Navarro helped the Fire open the scoring, with a shot that deflected off Union defender Jakob Glesnes in the second minute. Boris Sekulić and Mauricio Pineda, who started alongside Navarro in a new look 5-3-2 for Chicago, also tallied goals in the second half of the draw for the Fire.
Philly scored two first half goals, a spectacular bicycle kick from 17-year-old Quinn Sullivan for his first professional goal, and a bad angle blast from noted Fire killer Cory Burke just before halftime.
Good teams win their home games, but for a Fire team that had only scored four goals in nine games all season coming into the match, earning a point against a quality Union side and scoring three goals—especially after being down at halftime—isn’t a terrible result.
“I think we take the positive out of this,” Fire coach Raphael Wicky said after the match. “Against Philly, it’s a good point, coming back, coming back, fighting back. Yeah, we are disappointed about the last goal but at the end of the day, I think it’s a good point against them and we take the positives.”
The Fire looked to have three points secured, before a late own goal rescued a point for Philadelphia. On the play, Fire goalkeeper Bobby Shuttleworth made a diving save, which deflected off Sekulić’s shoulder back into the net.
“We had 1-0 and then 3-2, so I think we’re all angry,” Sekulić said. “In the end, it’s good that at least we have one point but I think considering that we were leading 3-2, 10 or 15 minutes before the end, I think we were all angry about the result in the end.”
After a day of heavy rain in Chicago, the Soldier Field pitch was so waterlogged that players were splashing with every cut, dribble, pass and shot. At least one Fire player—Álvaro Medrán—switched shoes at halftime. It must have helped—Medrán recorded assists on both second half goals for the Fire.
The pitch continued to get worse as the game went on.
“There was a lot of water, especially on our right side in the second half,” Sekulić said. “It was full of water. It was hard to pass and hold the ball, so this game was mostly about duels and fighting.”
The Fire are now halfway through a four game homestand, their longest of the season. They will train in Bridgeview this week before hosting Atlanta United at Soldier Field on July 3 (7 p.m. CT, WGN and CFFC Live). After a disastrous, 1-7-2 start to the season, the Fire will need to find a way to carry these positives forward, and dig themselves out of the 27th place hole.
“I think mentally, hopefully that gives the players confidence because obviously we spoke about that last time, when you don’t win many games, your confidence level of an athlete goes down very, very quickly. So hopefully, this gives them confidence,” Wicky said.
Chicago Fire FC: GK Shuttleworth, D Sekulić, D Kappelhof, D Pineda, D Calvo ©, D Navarro (Bornstein 85’), M Stojanović (Frankowski 63’), M Medrán, M Herbers, F Berić (Offor 63’), F Aliseda (Collier 90’+3’)
Subs not used: GK Slonina, D Espinoza, M Monis, M Casas Jr., M Gutiérrez
Philadelphia Union: GK Blake, D Powell (Mbaizo 61’), D Glesnes, D Findlay, D Wagner, M Sullivan (M Gazdag, 61’), M Elliott, M Flach (Real 90’), M Monteiro, F Burke, F Santos (Przybylko 61’)
Subs not used: GK Freese, D Collin, M Turner, M McGlynn, M Aaronson
Stats Summary: CHI / PHI
Shots: 14 / 14
Shots on Goal: 5 / 6
Passing Accuracy: 72.6% / 74.3%
Saves: 4 / 3
Corners: 6 / 6
Fouls: 11 / 9
Total passes: 303 / 397
Offsides: 3 / 4
Possession: 42.7% / 57.3%
Attendance: 7,308 (limited capacity due to COVID-19-related safety protocols)