Union match reports

Match Report: Philadelphia Union 1-0 Chicago Fire

Photo: Paul Rudderow

The Philadelphia Union held off Chicago Fire for the final 87 minutes for a 1-0 victory after Jack McInerney grabbed his league-leading 8th goal less than 3 minutes after the opening whistle.

In only the Union’s second home victory of 2013, the visitors failed to pose a serious threat as Frank Klopas’ side continued to struggle in front of goal and was forced to watch McInerney’s lone goal decide the contest for the second time in a week.

“Big win for our club tonight especially to win a 1-0 game here at home,” Union manager John Hackworth said after the game. “Credit to Chicago, two weeks in a row where they played hard. It is extremely difficult to beat a team, especially a conference rival within eight days twice. Happy for our team, big performance.”

In the 3rd minute, Sebastien Le Toux had a second chance to deliver into the box after his initial corner was played back out wide. He curled his cross into McInerney’s path, and his strike partner did the rest, burying his header past Chicago’s Sean Johnson. For a team on their third match in a week, it was the perfect start, and the Union didn’t look back.

With the Union’s defense in command of the match, Chicago failed to generate chances. Wells Thompson’s 63rd minute red card took the energy out of any possible fight back from the Fire, and the Union coasted home.

First Half

A week after the Union stole three points in Chicago, John Hackworth made only one change to a side that lost against LA on Wednesday. Bakary Soumare got a third straight start after a long injury layoff in an unchanged back line. Keon Daniel was the only casualty of Wednesday’s drubbing, with Michael Farfan returned to the starting lineup on his preferred right flank and Danny Cruz flipping over to the left.

Three days removed from conceding a goal in the 3rd minute against the Galaxy, the Union flipped the script and tallied their own 3rd minute opener against Chicago. When the Fire could only clear Le Toux’s corner to the top of the box, Soumare returned the ball out wide. With four Union players still in the box, a sea of navy blue shirts descended on Sean Johnson’s goal, with McInerney providing the powerful header to get the Union off to a dream start.

Chicago was quick to hit back after the early concession, and Amobi Okugo had to be on his toes to see off the threat from Patrick Nyarko at the end line. Moments later, Brian Carroll was the savior after Nyarko got behind and squared a ball across the face of goal. With Joel Lindpere racing into the box, Carroll held his ground, winning the ball off the Estonian before he could find a finish.

The ball moved quickly on the slick, rain-soaked surface, but footing was a problem. An Okugo turnover in the 18th minute gave Nyarko both time and space to run at goal. With Carroll sliding into defense to aid Okugo, the pair did enough to force Nyarko into a near post shot, which Zac MacMath did well to push around the post, conceding only a corner.

With Kleberson and Carroll both showing poise and vision on the ball, the Union sliced through the middle of the park. McInerney was dropping deep to find the ball, and his combination with the central midfielders in the 22nd minute set the table for a strong drive from Le Toux, which Johnson could only punch away.

Le Toux was the next Union player to commit a dangerous turnover, sending Lindpere off to the races. Teeing up Nyarko bombing up the right flank it seemed a certainty that the speedy winger would easily overtake Soumare, but the veteran defender got his angle right and did just enough to toe the ball to safety.

As the halftime break approached, the Union renewed their search for a second first-half goal, but their efforts came to nothing. McInerney set Cruz free up the left wing, where Cruz delivered a slicing ball across the face of goal. Unfortunately, no Union players were on the scene to tap home, and the closest player, Farfan, could only redirect a weak effort in on Johnson. Okugo was the next to try his luck heading home a Le Toux delivery, but the service was inches too tall and the Union centerback blazed his effort over the bar.

Second Half

With everything to play for in the second half, Chicago failed to find the quality to create the breakthrough. After only 53 minutes, Chris Rolfe was hauled off in favor of the more direct, blunt approach of  Sherjill MacDonald. The sides exchanged yellow cards for professional fouls as first Carroll and then Jalil Anibaba were cautioned for pulling back McInerney and Nyarko, respectively.

If Chicago was to find an equalizer, it seemed destined to arrive via Nyarko. In the 60th minute, he was the architect of a chance for Dilly Duka, but the former Columbus Crew man saw his 20 yard blast touched over the bar by MacMath.

The situation got far worst for Chicago in the 63rd minute, when Wells Thompson was sent off for a second yellow card. After being stripped by the hard-pressing Cruz, Thompson chased behind the play and cynically tripped up the Union winger just outside of the box. With the numeric advantage to the Union, cracks began to appear as the Fire tired, and McInerney picked off a lazy pass and let rip with a drive that flew just wide in the 66th minute.

Against the run of play, Chicago nearly grabbed a foothold in the match on a 72nd minute set piece. MacDonald got his head to the delivery and flicked the ball into the path of Jeff Larentowicz mere yards from MacMath’s goal, but fortunately for the home side, it flew just over the bar.

MacDonald’s physicality was causing problems and Williams was the next to enter the referee’s notebook. Trying to put a body on MacDonald, Williams was judged to have fouled the Dutchman. The initial foul came outside of the box and when the advantage call yielded no progress, referee Allen Chapman correctly brought the free kick outside of the box, despite MacDonald taking his final tumble in the area.

With 10-man Chicago tiring, the Union began to knock around with greater ease and McInerney dropped into midfield for large stretches, knocking quick one and two touch passes amongst his teammates.

“They had a couple of extra guys in the midfield, so either me or (Sebastian Le Toux) had to stay back, and lock out the (defensive midfield),” McInerney said after the game “If that happened, we could control the game.”

McInerney had a good chance to wrap up the tie in the 80th minute when Farfan got behind the defense and cut back for Keon Daniel, who had entered for Cruz. Daniel left it for McInerney, but the striker pounded his chance wide of the target.

Looking to lock down the midfield for the final minutes of the match, Hackworth introduced Leo Fernandes, who made his MLS debut with a brief, defensive-minded cameo that helped ensure that the Union would see out the victory.

“Leo has been really good,” Hackworth said. “During that time on the bench, the coaching staff was talking about … was this a place for Roger (Torres) to come in, but it’s just not the perfect fit. For Leo, he brings a little bit of size, his work ethic is very good, he can play multiple roles in the midfield. It was the right time for him, and he was certainly somebody that, for a long time, deserved an opportunity.”

With the three-match week now behind them, the Union begin preparations for a two-week Canadian road trip that begins with Montreal before traveling to Toronto in two very important Eastern Conference showdowns.

Philadelphia Union
Zac MacMath; Sheanon Williams, Amobi Okugo, Bakary Soumare, Ray Gaddis; Danny Cruz (Keon Daniel ’64), Kleberson (Conor Casey ’71), Brian Carroll, Michael Farfan; Jack McInerney (Leo Fernandes ’90), Sebastien Le Toux
Unused Substitutes: Chris Konopka, Chris Albright, Roger Torres, Antoine Hoppenot

Chicago Fire
Sean Johnson; Wells Thompson, Jalil Anibaba, Austin Berry, Gonzalo Segares; Dilly Duka (Quincy Amarikwa ’81), Jeff Larentowicz, Logan Pause, Joel Lindpere (Alex ’75); Chris Rolfe (Sherjill MacDonald ’53), Patrick Nyarko
Unused Substitutes: Paolo Tornaghi, Corben Bone, Brendan King, Michael Videira

Scoring Summary
3 – PHI: McInerney (Le Toux, Soumare)

Discipline Summary
14 – CHI: Thompson (caution)
56 – PHI: Carroll (caution)
57 – CHI: Anibaba (caution)
63 – CHI: Thompson (caution + ejection)
73 – PHI: Williams (caution)
90 – PHI: Casey (caution)

Allen Chapman

 Match Statistics

Philadelphia Union Chicago Fire
12 Attempts on Goal 11
3 Shots on Target 6
8 Shots off Target 4
1 Blocked Shots 1
7 Corner Kicks 7
11 Fouls 9
12 Open Play Crosses 18
2 Offsides 2
3 First Yellow Cards 1
0 Second Yellow Cards 1
0 Red Cards 1
59 Duels Won 53
52% Duels Won % 47%
430 Total Pass 355
76% Passing Accuracy % 72%
54.1% Possession 45.9%


  1. Williams continue to commit bad free kick and yesterday the fire got cheated out of a pk .. but hey nice win

    • ‘Cheated’,no, but Williams and the Union were certainly lucky that wasn’t called a PK.

    • Dan Walsh says:

      The only way I can explain that call is the ref felt that Williams fouled MacDonald but let MacDonald play the advantage. Then MacDonald dove in the box (even though there was clearly some contact). I think that’s what he called. It was probably the right call, but it easily could have been a penalty that Williams would have had a hard time contesting.

      • The Black Hand says:

        Bottom line is; Williams was beat twice, on that play. Poor decision making by Shaenon. That’s a PK, 9 out of 10 times.

      • I think you’re correct on that one. He thought it was a dive in the box, but a foul outside of the box. He played advantage, and did card for diving because there was contact and a previous foul. I think it was the correct call but it could have easily gone the other way.

  2. Kind of a rosey view…I sensed the fire were much more dangerous in the second half evidenced by the amount of time the union spent on defense…even with a man advantage! We were lucky to get the 3 points, but sometimes it’s better to be lucky than good!

    • That has everything to do with the Union parking the bus for about 30 minutes.

      • The Black Hand says:

        As well as Keon’s arrival. There is something terribly wrong with his game, right now. He needs to sit, until he can bring himself to form. I would almost opt for Albright, being that it would be hard to show worse than Keon is right now.

      • Well Keon was drove the bus onto the field. It is like Hackworth can’t envision a Union attack without Cruz on the field.

      • frankswild says:

        When they subbed on Keon I remember thinking ‘oh ho ho now we are both playing a man down’ and then it turned out to basically be true

      • Great One says:

        Everyone in our section screamed when they saw Keon running up to sub in. My gfs mom (at her first soccer game) kept laughing at people yelling at Keons mistakes (not knowing who they were talking about), then turned and asked “why that guy keeps passing it to the other team or backwards, and seems like he runs into his own players”. It was so appropriate

      • Was I imagining things, or did Keon get into it with some people in the crowd in around section 127 or 128, shortly after coming on? Kinda looked like he heard something from the stands, and hollered back.

      • Andy Muenz says:

        At one point I yelled for him to get his head in the game but I didn’t see any reaction. I’m in the 3rd row of 127 on the 128 side and didn’t see Keon get into it with anyone.

  3. Southside Johnny says:

    Best team effort yet on both sides of the ball. Best game yet for Carroll, Gaddis, Soumare, Williams, and Le2. Loved Gaddis’ stepping and winning. Jack looked like a pretty damn good center mid at times, kept his head and did his thing. No Keon helped everybody. Cruz defended really well and helped Ray a ton. As I suggested a while back, he is better on the left side. Better game from Marfan, but he seemed to not trust himself on chances for longer balls in/through. Again we had some pretty nice passing and ball movement especially in tight. How can Kleberson and Soumare ever go back to the bench?

    • The Black Hand says:

      Carroll had a good match…yeah I said it. He was a big reason for our clean sheet.
      Gaddis had a very fine match. I like Cruz on the left, as well.
      Jack scored a big goal but aside from that, I felt his game was lacking. His passing was off and he has to get his shots, from distance, on frame.
      This clean sheet should give MacMath some more, much needed, confidence.

    • Jaap Stam says:

      Kleberson and Soumare should never, ever go back to the bench. Period!

  4. It was a good workman like victory for the Union. If one believes there are games to build on, this was a game to build on.

    – Baky was a BOSS on defense. he was running the entire show. You could see him yelling at Gaddis getting him into the right position ect. I haven’t seen anyone organize the defense like that since Mondragon left and Parke is no slouch. Trade him or start him, period.

    – Carrol had his best game in a while really hustling to get the ball and start the attack.

    – I swear just having Kleberson out there even when he isn’t dominating has improved the midfield so much. So much less Cruz running like an idiot.

    – The last half hour of the game was PAINFUL to watch, we were a man up and Chicago were finally totally beaten and we just parked the bus. We should have choked the life out of Chicago but we didn’t. To be honest I don’t have a lot of confidence in Hackworth as it seems any positives that have come out of the Union we done despite him not because of him.

    – I thought this would have been a good game to feature Torres but nope parked the bus

  5. Hackworth needs to go in favor of an actual manager who won’t develope man crushes on certain players who can’t score but continue to start. I real manager would sit Carroll and move Okugo to his natural position and play Soumare and Parke together. A real manager would have gotten a strong competent player to play the LB position instead of using Gaddis who has no left foot. A real manager would know what to do in a draft. A real manager would not just be content to barely beat teams weaker that they are. A real manager would build a team capable of matching up against SKC,NY,LA,Seatle, and Montreal.

  6. WilkersonMcLaser says:

    I really appreciate the things Keon has done for this club in the past, but something is seriously wrong with him right now. He either needs to go on a spiritual journal or whatever to regain his mojo or content himself with benchwarming … at best.
    I hate to say it, but I was very impressed with Cruz’s play last night. Provided some great width and marauding runs down the left side that just isn’t in Marfan’s toolbox. His touch leaves a lot to be desired — my wife and I joke that he plays like he’s riding a bicycle: fast and barreling but no finesse whatsoever — but he and Gaddis (what a great game btw) were very dangerous.
    Speaking of Marfan, so glad to see him back on the right where he belongs. His ball handling and passing vision, when he’s on, is just so damned fine. Really liked how he could drift inside and provide that extra piece on the attack.
    Le Toux needs to start AT LEAST half the time if he’s going to play the way he did last night.
    Soumare looked great last night for the first time (as far as I could tell). I think this has a lot to do with he and Okugo getting on the same page and some of the rust shaking off. Starting to see glimpses of why he was such a highly rated player in the past. If he plays consistently like he did yesterday, he deserves the start over Parke, god bless him.
    Not only was Sheanon’s foul stupid, but he has been a shadow of the Sheanomenon that I’ve come to expect to see. At this point, Gaddis is playing better ball than he is. If we still had Garfan (pissed about that, btw), I’d argue for Gaddis to start a game or two on the right and Garfan (or Harvey? heh) on the left. Sigh.
    Kleberson was fine. He wasn’t a turnover machine like Keon, so it was a vast improvement, but he looked better in other games.
    8 goals for JackMac!

  7. Thanks to Brian Carroll for saving MacMath this week! When will Hackworth see that MacMath makes to many poor decisions and gets saved my his teammates. The Fire should have won that game 3-1. IT’S TIME FOR A CHANGE IN GOAL!!!!!! Hackworth unless you wan to be like Peter he better wake up!!!!!

  8. Was this the first game the Union won where they also won time of possession?

    • Adam Cann says:

      @cszack4: Great question!
      The Union had 56.7% of possession in their win over New England, but that’s the only other time they’ve owned the poss stat in a win.

  9. Great One says:

    At this point Keon can no longer be put on the field. Literally anyone would be better.

  10. Jaap Stam says:

    Soumare looked great. I want that guy on our back line. No good reason to sit him. Kleberson looked very composed. Again.
    Both these players should be fixtures in our starting eleven. I’ll even give Coach Hackworth credit for getting them both “acclimated” and “ready to play 90 minutes.” Great job! Nurturing them clearly worked well. Credit to the entire staff. We were too impatient. You guys were obviously right all along. NOW NEVER EVER TAKE THEM OUT EVER, EVER, EVER AGAIN….ok?

  11. Both teams looked like professional soccer teams which is an accomplishment for both managers. Lets see what happens on the road.

    Evocation [Force]
    Level: Sor/Wiz 4
    Range: Medium (60 yards)
    Targets: Up to five teammates
    Duration: 90 min
    Spell Resistance: Yes

    Available to Brazilian midfielders of certain experience, grants teammates +1 wisdom and +2 dexterity. That’s +2 / +3 if Brian Carroll.

    Keon appears to be immune to this spell.

    • He has The Cursed Dreads Of miglioranzi. Giving him -5 Dexterity
      -3 wisdom
      -3 intelligence

      The cursed dread also has a 20% of emitting a force spell that repels the ball to the nearest defender. You can save against the by immediately kicking the ball backwards to the farthest defender.

  13. Andy Muenz says:

    The most disturbing thing I saw last night was in second half stoppage time when the Union had a few chances to take the ball to the corner but instead played the ball to the middle which allowed Chicago to regain control faster and made it harder to kill off the clock.

    I thought this was the best officiating I’ve seen all season. There were very few calls that were obviously wrong and on one play where I (and the rest of the crowd) thought Cruz was fouled but the call went the other way, the ref went over to Danny and explained why he made the call the way he did. I thought that was very professional of the ref.

    • I will agree that the officiating was good in that the ref was not a memorable partof the game but even at that he was still a bit inconsistent throughout the game. That this was considered excellent shows how bad the rest of it is.
      At least he wasn’t chicagos 5th defender like a few games ago.

  14. I watched the beginning of the replay on Sunday and caught this gem. JP asked Moreno why he Cruz got moved to the left. Moreno said he thought it would create a mismatch against Wells Thompson that the Union could take advantage of. Dang, that guy’s good.

  15. scottymac says:

    I know we’re only a third the way through the season, but the thought that popped into my head when Keon entered a MAN UP was, “Does Hack know that goals for is the second tiebreaker after wins?”.

    We’ve got a brutal schedule coming up with 5 out of the next 7 teams currently in a playoff spot (and the 6th CMB just 3 points back w a game in hand). We not only need 3 points, but to make sure we continue to score.

  16. Remind me not to get sick during a week with two home matches and Kleberson actually starting.

    I’m encouraged to see that folks have come around on Keon. I suppose it was right to give him some credit for past performances, but to me, he burned through that pretty quickly. Pigeons that forage on the field have more tactical insight than I do, but I think it may be the change in formation/role that did him in. In the past, he was always a wide man in a(n ineffective) 4-2-3-1. This season he’s been more of a central player and he’s struggled with that, dropping back too much and failing to link up with other attacking players. I feel like in the 4-2-3-1, his role was more limited, and he had defenders overlapping. But generally, I don’t think he has the quick decisionmaking ability to work in this system. He’s a player for more of a possession game, I think.

    What goes into the decision to start Casey vs. Le Toux? Does it have to do with the opponent, or are we just rotating and resting?

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