Philadelphia Union vs. Chicago Fire | MLS Match Preview

PPL Park, Chester, Pa.
Oct. 2, 2014 (WEEK 30, MLS Game #284)
8 p.m. ET (ESPN2/Deportes; TSN5)

A crucial match for the postseason hopes of both teams is ahead on Thursday evening when the Philadelphia Union play host to the Chicago Fire before an ESPN2 audience. Union come into the match sitting in seventh place in the Eastern Conference, two places out of the final playoff position, three points below the red line following their 1-0 loss at D.C. United over the weekend. The Fire could end the weekend with their playoff possibilities extinguished, sitting in ninth place in the East following their 2-0 loss at the Houston Dynamo on Sunday afternoon.


REFEREE: Chris Penso. AR1 (bench): Craig Lowry; AR2 (opposite): Bill Dittmar; 4th: Robert Sibiga
Penso MLS Career: 58 games; FC/gm: 23.3; Y/gm: 3.2; R: 17; pens: 20

SUSPENDED NEXT YELLOW CARD: PHI: Maurice Edu … CHI: Gonzalo Segares, Bakary Soumare
SUSPENDED AFTER TWO YELLOW CARDS: PHI: Fabinho, Raymon Gaddis … CHI: Mike Magee, Chris Ritter, Patrick Ianni, Matt Watson

ALL-TIME (12 meetings): Union 5 wins, 15 goals … Fire 4 wins, 14 goals … Ties 3
AT PHILADELPHIA (5 meetings): Union 3 wins, 6 goals … Fire 2 wins, 6 goals … Ties 2

2014 (MLS):
4/5: CHI 2, PHI 2 (Magee 16; Anangono 86 – Edu 32; Fernandes 39)
7/19: CHI 1, PHI 1 (Larentowicz 60 – Le Toux 91+)

  • The teams are meeting for the third time this season. Sebastien Le Toux converted a penalty kick in stoppage time to pull Union back into a 1-1 draw July 19 at Toyota Park; Juan Luis Anangono scored the equalizer four minutes from the end to bring the Fire back for a 2-2 draw April 5 at Toyota Park.
  • The Fire have won each of the last two seasons at PPL Park, including a 2-1 win last Aug. 3 in Chester.
  • The Union have now taken points from the last four meetings at Toyota Park, with three wins and a draw.
  • Coaches' records: Jim Curtin vs. CHI: P1 W0 L0 D1 … Frank Yallop vs. PHI: P7 W3 L1 D3


  • The Fire took the lead in the 60th minute. Harry Shipp put in a corner from the right and Jeff Larentowicz freed himself for a clear header from the heart of the box.
  • But the match turned in stoppage time. A speculative volley from Sebastien Le Toux at the top of the box hit Gonzalo Segares on the upper part of his right arm, and referee Geoff Gamble awarded a spot kick. Le Toux made no mistake with the ensuing penalty and Union came away with a crucial point from the road.
  • CHICAGO FIRE (4-4-2): Sean Johnson - Lovel Palmer, Bakary Soumare, Jhon Kennedy Hurtado, Gonzalo Segares - Alex, Matt Watson, Jeff Larentowicz, Harry Shipp (Grant Ward 75) - Quincy Amarikwa (Matthew Fondy 79), Mike Magee.
  • PHILADELPHIA UNION (4-4-2): Zac MacMath - Sheanon Williams, Ethan White, Maurice Edu, Raymon Gaddis (Brian Brown 81) - Danny Cruz (Andrew Wenger 61), Amobi Okugo (Fred 69), Michael Lahoud, Vincent Nogueira - Conor Casey, Sebastien Le Toux


The Philadelphia Union saw their undefeated run come to an end after five matches, falling 1-0 to D.C. United on Saturday afternoon at RFK Stadium. The Union are in seventh place in the Eastern Conference with 38 points from 30 games.


  • The game's lone goal came after 10 minutes. A deflected cross found its way to United fullback Chris Korb, who quickly whipped the ball in to the top of the six. Luis Silva was waiting and deftly headed the ball past Union 'keeper Rais Mbolhi and into the back of the net.
  • Union center back Carlos Valdes kept his side close later in the first half when he cleared a Fabian Espindola effort off the line, after the D.C. striker had rounded Mbohli. United 'keeper Bill Hamid was called upon to make four saves for the shutout.
  • Union interim manager Jim Curtin made one change to the team that played to a scoreless draw with the Houston Dynamo at PPL Park. Amobi Okugo came into the team in place of Ethan White.
  • PHILADELPHIA UNION (4-2-3-1): Rais Mbolhi - Sheanon Williams, Maurice Edu, Carlos Valdes (Pedro Ribeiro 82), Raymon Gaddis - Amobi Okugo, Vincent Nogueira - Sebastien Le Toux (Danny Cruz 22), Cristian Maidana, Andrew Wenger - Conor Casey (Brian Brown 63).


  • The Union suffered their first loss since Aug. 15 – when they lost 2-0 at the Houston Dynamo – though the defeat at D.C. United followed a pair of draws.
  • “The goals have dried up. You know, we’re struggling. We are getting chances. We’re creating chances, maybe a little more commitment to get in the box,” said Union manager Jim Curtin. “ … We are going to have to find a way to fight through it, and we need to now win three games in a row to give ourselves even a chance at the playoffs.”
  • The Union were also shut out at the attacking end for a second consecutive match, the first time since April 19-26 they were blanked in back-to-back games.
  • “Conor [Casey’s] up there fighting with two center backs and that’s not good enough,” Curtin said. “We have to have more commitment from Chaco [Maidana], from Vincent [Nogueira], from Amobi [Okugo] to get in the box late. You saw today there were probably ten crosses that get knocked down around the 8- to 12-yard-line and we don’t have anyone there to get on the end of it. That’s a commitment to getting in the box.”
  • The Union were dealt a significant injury blow when Sebastien Le Toux was forced off the field before the half-hour mark with a sprained ankle. Le Toux leads Union with 12 goals and six assists, netting the last goal the club scored (Sept. 13 vs. New York).
  • “It’s an ankle sprain; it’ll be day by day. We’ll see how he is, he seems like he’s OK. Not too serious, but again, changes things,” said Curtin. “ … We wanted to be cautious with it and see if he could run it off, but he said it was at the stage that he needed a sub, so that was it.”
  • Amobi Okugo returned to the starting lineup after a one-match absence, again coming into a central midfield role as Maurice Edu returned to central defense following one game as a holding midfielder.
  • Goalkeeper Rais Mbolhi was on the losing end for the first time in three MLS starts. He was between the posts for the 4-2 win vs. San Jose on Aug. 24, before returning to duty the week before in the Houston goalless draw.
  • Danny Cruz came into the side in place of Le Toux and played the remaining 68 minutes after coming on, his longest shift since starting and playing 69 minutes July 12 vs. Colorado.
  • “I think we had a lot of set pieces, got ourselves in positions and cleared the ball away a lot. I think the final ball wasn’t really there, but I think there are positives to take away from it. We know that we have a huge three games now at our home, and if we do the job I have no doubt that we can get into the playoffs,” said Cruz.
  • Said Curtin: “I thought Danny came on and gave us a ton of energy, and caused some havoc and could’ve drawn a penalty kick toward the end of the second half.”


The Chicago Fire had their winless run extended to four matches, falling 2-0 to the Houston Dynamo on Sunday afternoon at BBVA Compass Stadium. The Fire are in ninth place in the Eastern Conference with 31 points from 29 games.


  • The Dynamo hit for the opener just after the quarter-hour. From the left side of the field, midfielder Ricardo Clark got the best of Fire veteran Logan Pause before firing a cross toward the back post. Omar Cummings split a pair of defenders to come sliding in for a simple finish.
  • The Dynamo hit for the second on a perfectly played team goal in the 67th minute. Defender Kofi Sarkodie hit a cross from the right side to midfielder Brad Davis, who headed the ball back to a wide-open Boniek Garcia at the penalty spot, and he thumped home a picture-perfect volley with his left foot.
  • Fire head coach Frank Yallop made four changes to the team that came back for a 3-3 draw with D.C. United at Toyota Park. Logan Pause and Patrick Ianni came into the back four for the suspended Lovel Palmer and Bakary Soumare, while Florent Sinama-Pongolle and Robert Earnshaw started in place of Grant Ward and Alex.
  • CHICAGO FIRE (4-4-2): Sean Johnson - Logan Pause, Patrick Ianni, Jeff Larentowicz, Gonzalo Segares (Grant Ward 80) - Florent Sinama-Pongolle (Alex 65), Razvan Cocis (Patrick Nyarko 28), Matt Watson, Harry Shipp - Robert Earnshaw, Quincy Amarikwa.


  • The Fire had their winless run extended to four games with the defeat, the result in Houston following back-to-back draws.
  • “It’s been tough all year, we’ve tied 16 out of 29 games and you’ve got to turn some of those ties into wins and we haven’t,” Fire head coach Frank Yallop said. “So we’re not good enough. I guess we have something to slightly build on that we don’t lose a ton of games, but we lost which is obviously a very disappointing result at this time of the season. But we’ve got to pick ourselves up, we’ve got play on Thursday, so we’ve got to get ready for that one.”
  • The Fire were shut out at the attacking end for the first time since Aug. 16, after scoring three goals vs. D.C. United the game before, their second-highest offensive output of the season.
  • “Maybe we did enough to get back into the game with some half chances in the first half, but you’ve got to convert your chances, you’ve got to be dangerous, you’ve got to look like you’re going to score, make the goalkeeper make a save,” Yallop said. “I don’t think their ’keeper had a save to make. We had some good situations where we just didn’t have the final pass, it was over hit, under hit, cut out or whatever it was, and they had two great plays where they found people in the box and they scored.”
  • Logan Pause made his second start of the season, his first of the year at right back, in place of the suspended Lovel Palmer. Pause has announced his retirement following the completion of the season.
  • Florent Sinama-Pongolle made his first MLS start, coming in on the right of midfield and playing 65 minutes. He made his Fire and MLS debut the week before vs. D.C. United.
  • Robert Earnshaw made his first start in a Fire uniform, playing the full 90 minutes alongside Quincy Amarikwa in attack. Earnshaw had made three substitute appearances since signing with the club in August.
  • Patrick Ianni also came into the team for the first time since Aug. 16, playing the full match in central defense for the suspended Bakary Soumare.
  • “We’ve been saying for a long time now that’s it win or go home and we have to start picking up points,” said goalkeeper Sean Johnson. “I said in the beginning on the season, it’s going to get to a point where it’s too late to say that and now, we’re at the point. Unfortunately, we’re on the other side of things, not fighting to keep a playoff spot but fighting to get in, with a glimmer of hope and we’re going to keep fighting until the end. We’ve got no other options.”
  • The Fire were forced into a change when Razvan Cocis came off before the half-hour mark after suffering a head injury. Cocis had played every minute of the previous seven matches, in a central midfield role.
  • “Razvan felt dizzy, so we just took the right precautions on him,” Yallop said. “He’s got a pretty nasty cut, I haven’t seen the play, but obviously we had to take him out of the game.”
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Season Goal Leaders

Season Stats

Philadelphia UnionChicago Fire FC
30Games Played29
44Goals Conceded45
132Shots on Target124
364Fouls committed392
349Fouls suffered361

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