Featured / MLS / Union / Union match reports

Match Report: Union 0-1 Fire

A 28th minute Dominic Oduro strike was all Chicago Fire would need to claim a 1-0 victory Saturday night, and keep the Union winless in 2012, as Philadelphia’s inauspicious beginning to the season continued at Toyota Park in Bridgeview, Illinois.

The third time was not the charm for Union, as their offense went missing for the majority of the match, and a late flurry of activity as they searched for an equalizer was not enough to prevent Chicago from recording their first regular season win in 2012.

First half

For Peter Nowak’s side, it was another new look formation that opened up against Chicago. Adjustments were required as captain Danny Califf missed the trip along with the trio of Freddy Adu, Amobi Okugo and Sheanon Williams, who are away with the U.S. National Team. Roger Torres came into the side for Williams as the only lineup change, though formationally, Michael Farfan and Keon Daniel switched wings, playing opposite their natural sides, allowing both players to cut into the pitch on their dominant foot.

It was a sloppy match from the get-go as the Union looked to pack the middle of the pitch in attack, with all five midfielders and both strikers wearing out the middle third of the track. With Chicago also electing to deploy five players in the midfield, the players struggled to find space in the middle of the park in the early going.

Chicago was the first to signal their intent, however, as Dominic Oduro was quick to prove the danger he would pose as he beat the Union offside trap early, with Sebastian Grazzini happy to sit beneath him and feed Marco Pappa and Patrick Nyarko on the wings.

The Union defense had no answers for Chicago’s front four as their pace and guile on the ball was more than the visitors could handle and, after a strong period of early pressure, it was hardly surprising when Chicago stormed into the lead in the 28th minute.

It was a well-taken goal by Oduro, but the Union’s defense was at fault for conceding the chance. Marco Pappa beat both Gabriel Gomez and Torres far too easily before lofting his cross to Oduro, who had shaken free of Carlos Valdes on the play. That gave Oduro the time and space to rise for the free header, which he dutifully powered beyond a helpless Zac MacMath.

The Union keeper did well to preserve the 1-0 scoreline in the 33rd minute when Gonzalo Segares drove through the middle of the Union defense, only to see his low effort denied by the onrushing Union goalkeeper.

Chicago’s pace almost saw them double their advantage before the stroke of halftime when Porfirio Lopez was dispossessed by Pappa, who fed the ever-dangerous Oduro. Easily skipping past both Valdes and Albright, Oduro rounded MacMath, and only Albright’s retreating run and sliding clearance kept Oduro’s ball out of the empty net.

Second half

Gabriel Farfan replaced Roger Torres to begin the second half, allowing the Union to shift back into a four man backline, with Lopez joining Valdes in the center of the pitch. This did little to stem the tide of Chicago’s dominance however, for despite being down a goal, the Union continued to allow the Fire to dictate the pace of the game.

With Grazzini running unchecked through the middle of the park, Oduro had a consistent provider and MacMath was soon called on again to maintain the 1-0 deficit as he got down quickly to beat away Oduro’s effort with his feet.

Pappa was the next to profit from Grazzini’s service as he popped up on the left corner of the box, only to see his shot rebound off of the outside of the far post in the 68th minute.

It was not until the 80th minute  entrance of Jack McInerney that the Union began to mount their fight back. Immediately following his introduction, McInerney had the Union on the front foot, earning his team their first in a string of dangerous free kicks.

With time winding down, Gabriel Gomez stepped up to deliver two dangerous free kicks on target, the Union’s only two shots on goal of the night, but Chicago’s young Italian goalkeeper, Paolo Tornaghi, proved equal to the task. In the end, it was too little, too late for the Union as they finally pressed numbers into the attack only to have the equalizer they sought fail to materialize.

Philadelphia Union

Zac MacMath; Chris Albright (Jack McInerney ’80), Carlos Valdes, Porfirio Lopez; Brian Carroll, Gabriel Gomez, Michael Farfan, Keon Daniel, Roger Torres (Gabriel Farfan ’45); Danny Mwanga (Josue Martinez ’65), Lionard Pajoy

Substitutes not used: Chase Harrison, Raymon Gaddis, Christhian Hernandez, Krystian Witkowski

Colorado Rapids

Paolo Tornaghi; Dan Gargan, Cory Gibbs, Jalil Anibaba, Gonzalo Segares; Marco Pappa (Frederico Puppo ’89), Logan Pause, Pavel Pardo (Dan Paladini ’70), Sebastian Grazzini (Rafael Robayo ’85); Dominic Oduro

Substitutes not used: Jay Nolly, Austin Berry, Orr Barouch, Hunter Jumper

Scoring Summary:

28 – Chicago: Dominic Oduro (Marco Pappa)

Misconduct Summary:

59 – Philadelphia: G. Farfan (Caution)

75 – Chicago: Grazzini (Caution)

81 – Chicago: Gibbs (Caution)


Ricardo Salazar

Have questions that you’d like the PSP’s Eli Pearlman-Storch to answer in a post? Send them to epstorch@phillysoccerpage.com along with your full name and where you live, both in PPL Park and in the world, and he will get to them in an upcoming post on the Philly Soccer Page. 


  1. I am so depressed.

  2. I couldn’t have said it better myself.

  3. NICK SAKIEWICZ – please fire Nowak.

  4. This is re-building?

  5. Oh Yeah, and more confusing, where did this LeToux/Allocation Money go? You don’t build-to-rebuild, we were on the cusp on an MLS Cup and I guess that fast and cheap cash was more important. We need a “John Terry” type leader as well as an “S.A.F.” type managing coach. And now we hit Oplymic and Tournament season. What was Nowak thinking. I attended the Union-Orlando City match down here last month and that wasn’t any better. My 14 year old son asked Gabe faran how he felt about the LeToux Trade, farfan just shrugged his head and smirked. With all of the anticipation……..what a mess!

    • I think some of the allocation money went to the new video sign boards at PPL gotta spend money to make money.knowhatiamsaying.

    • The thing is I don’t even know how much Le Toux would be helping right now. Do you really think having Le Toux here would magically make things better, when our bigger problems are the tinkering on defense, and (as always) constant lineup changes and stupid formations? I mean Le Toux was with us ALL of last year, when our offense was pretty stagnant more often than not.
      I think after all this time, the problem isn’t with the people who are no longer with us, it’s with the one person who is – Nowak. I mean, you can’t make this stuff up; Second best defense in GA last year, and he starts a 5 man backline against Houston and goes for a 3 man backline 2 out of 3 games this season.
      You look at a coach doing things like that, and I don’t believe people can look at a punt and pray forward like Le toux and act like everything would be ok if we had him.

      • Yeah, not having Le Toux is not nearly as much of a problem as what his exit (and how it all went down) seemed to indicate about our manager.

      • Agreed. Even with Le Toux we could still be losing (perhaps not as badly) but I could at least root for a team that has a coach who respects his players. Even if we were winning now I’d still want Nowak fired.

      • Missing Le Toux is not the problem. Pejoy is a good player. With or without the Frenchman the team would be in the same position. Last year we also suffered from a lack luster offense, but we had a strong defensive core. The problem is with the manager. He has failed to move the team forward. In fact, the Union has regressed.

    • Wonder if perhaps Ballack will come out of the allocation money (not until october obviously)… but not out of the realm of possibility, and then trade carroll for a back (left or center)

      • The Black Hand says:

        A player like Ballack wants nothing to do with us right now and I can’t really blame him. Nowak would only take a talented player like Ballack and lose him in our disorganized, to put it mildly, midfield. The U lack drive. The positioning is atrocious and not one player has the hunger to put a shot on net. Danny Mwanga needs to show up for the ’12 season. Le Toux was let go because we decided to pay for the younger Mwanga ( we couldn’t pay both) and so far that was the wrong choice.

  6. I want to see mcinerney starting with pajoy. Mcinerney shows aggression and energy and pushes the ball forward. I noticed this against the timbers too. Mwanga isnt aggressive enough.

    • McMohansky says:

      I agree. Mwanga just doesn’t bring it. Same problem last year, it doesn’t seem to matter who is playing with him. For a big guy he’s rather precious.
      Jack shows hunger and desire and the fans really need to see that out there, especially now.

      • Doesn’t matter who you start up top. The problem is with building a play from the back threw the midfield to the forwards. They simply don’t do the simple things. Its a mess out there. The forwards are lacking any type of service. The team is not creating goal scoring opportunities.

      • agreed

      • And by not creating goal scoring opportunities, you’re saying they stop at the half line and let the opposing team get in fron of the goal before they start to procede again correct?

  7. They started the match out well, but as soon as Chicago got organized the Union fell apart.

    Nowak is trying to get these guys to play like Barca or Arsenal. They are not familiar with that type of game play and frankly I don’t think they are good enough to play that type of soccer.

    If they are going to get rid of Nowak they need to do it now. Otherwise, let him continue his experiments for the remainder of the season and see where it takes them (no where). No relegation – no problem, unless you take the displeasure of the fans into account.

    Oh yea the fans. Hopefully, the seats will continue to get filled while Nowak experiments. It is a young team after all.

  8. PhillyHotspur says:

    What a disaster………
    a Spineless performance……..we looked lost, lacked any form of structure and looked absolutely nothing like the Union of 10/11. This falls on one person only –> Nowak. He told us to be patient and roll w/ his questionable moves. how’s that working out currently ??
    And lastly……how on earth don’t we have any coverage at CB ?? Just imagine if our best CB goes down on Valdes……we might as well mail in the season.
    And now our MVP over the last two years returns this weekend more motivated then ever and ready to stick it to Nowak………not good.
    What a miserable start to the season……..Must win vs the WhiteCaps. 1 or 0 point is unacceptable.

  9. Agree. Must win.

  10. I can take a team and make it not a team, Peter Nowak.
    I think you are all missing the point, this is Peter’s toy and you don’t matter.
    Not the fans not the players, nobody but Peter matters.
    When you look at it from Peter’s view it was a good match!

  11. Can he start tomorrow? In Chester, PA?

    Real Madrid director of football Zinedine Zidane has revealed that he would like to be a head coach one day. The former France international replaced Jorge Valdano in the executive position at the Santiago Bernabeu in July 2011, but despite admitting that he is happy in his current role, he confessed that he wants to become a manager.
    I’ll fly him over

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *