Union match reports

Match Report: Chicago Fire 1-0 Philadelphia Union

Despite outplaying Chicago for large portions of the match, the 10-man Philadelphia Union fell to Chicago Fire, 1-0, at Toyota Park on Saturday evening. Warren Creavalle was shown a straight red card in the 48th minute for a reckless challenge and the Fire made the Union pay just three minutes later when Kennedy Igboananike scored the game’s only goal.

Philadelphia is now winless against Chicago over the last seven league games. For the Fire, it was their first win of 2016.

First Half

Jim Curtin made no changes to the team that defeated New England two weeks ago. Tranquillo Barnetta and Matt Jones both started on the bench for the first time this season, with Leo Fernandes and John McCarthy — both of whom are expected to start in Bethlehem Steel’s inaugural home opener on Sunday —  dropped from the 18.

The story of the first 15 minutes of the match was the weather, with strong, gusting winds blowing snow throughout the stadium.

Chicago generated the first scoring chance of the match in the 15th minute. Kennedy Igboananike had his shot blocked by Keegan Rosenberry before Warren Creavalle repelled a second effort from inside the six yard box.

The Fire continued to probe and have a flurry of chances in the 22nd minute. Andre Blake fumbled a cross in the heavy wind and the ball was eventually cleared by Ken Tribbett before Razvan Cocis followed up by hitting a shot just wide of the Union goal.

Philadelphia got their first clear cut opportunity in the 29th minute when Fabinho lofted in a cross from the left touchline that C.J. Sapong rose highest for. But Fire goalkeeper Matt Lampson just got a fingertip to the looping header and forced it onto the crossbar. Ilsinho could not turn in the rebound, heading just wide.

Philadelphia had the best chance of the first half in the 41st minute. Warren Creavalle made a great run down the center of the field with the Union in possession and played a quick pass into Sapong at the top of the box. The striker played a one-two with Creavalle before firing a quick shot off the left post of Lampson’s goal.

The Union rounded out the half with a flurry of chances. Ilsinho cleverly beat two men driving from the right wing before Chris Pontius’s just missed connecting with the Brazilian’s cross in the 43rd minute. That was quickly followed with another chance for Sapong, this time after combining well with Alberg before firing wide.

Second Half

Philadelphia started the first half on the front foot. In the 46th minute, Sapong got in behind before having his shot smothered by Lampson. The rebound fell to Alberg, who’s shot was blocked from 12 yards.

A minute later, Ilsinho found time and space to shoot from the right side and fired a fierce effort that beat Lampson but hit square against the crossbar.

Philadelphia was reduced to ten men in the 48th minute when Warren Creavalle was shown a straight red card for a reckless sliding challenge on Razvan Cocis.

Chicago immediately took advantage of their man advantage, notching the opening goal in the 51st minute. Michael Harrington found Igboananike inside the Union box on the left side and the striker was able to quickly turn and shoot into the far corner from 10 yards.

Andre Blake was called into action in the 63rd minute, beating away a fierce drive from Chicago substitute John Goossens, who found a yard to shoot at the top of the Union box.

Sebastien Le Toux and Tranquillo Barnetta were introduced for Chris Pontius and Roland Alberg, respectively, in the 66th minute. Fabian Herbers came on in the 78th minute for Fabinho, with the Union going to three at the back in search of the tying goal.

Herbers had the best chance to equalize for the Union in the 89th minute when Sapong was able to direct a long ball into the box out to the wide open rookie 7 yards from the Chicago goal. But the Herbers couldn’t get the ball out of his feet to get a shot off.

Philadelphia, now 2-2-0, will look to rebound when they take on Orlando City on Friday, April 8, at 7 p.m. at Talen Energy Stadium.

Philadelphia Union
Andre Blake, Keegan Rosenberry, Ken Tribbett, Richie Marquez, Fabinho (Fabian Herbers 78′), Brian Carroll, Warren Creavalle, Ilsinho, Roland Alberg (Tranquillo Barnetta 66′), Chris Pontius (Sebastien Le Toux 66′), C.J. Sapong
Unused Subs: Matt Jones, Ray Gaddis, Anderson Conceicao, Vincent Nogueira

Chicago Fire
Matt Lampson, Rodrigo Ramos, Jonathan Campbell, Johan Kappelhof, Michael Harrington, Michael Stephens, Matt Polster, Arturo Alvarez (John Goossens 62′), Razvan Cocis, Kennedy Igboananike, Gilberto
Unused Subs: Patrick McLain, Joao Meira, Brandon Vincent, Nick LaBrocca, Alex Morrell, Joey Calistri

Scoring Summary
CHI: Kennedy Igboananike – 51′ (Michael Harrington)

Disciplinary Summary
PHI: Warren Creavalle (unsporting behavior) – 12′
CHI: Rodrigo Ramos (unsporting behavior) – 37′
PHI: Warren Creavalle (red card: serious foul) – 47′
CHI: Matt Polster (unsporting behavior) – 72′

Philadelphia Union Chicago Fire
17 Shots 10
3 Shots on Target 2
8 Shots off Target 5
6 Blocked Shots 3
 5 Corner Kicks 2
 9 Crosses  12
 0 Offsides 3
 7 Fouls 16
1 Yellow Cards 2
1 Red Cards  0
 417 Total Passes 487
 75% Passing Accuracy 53.9%
 46.1% Possession  49.1%
 54 Duels Won 32
 63% Duels Won % 57%
10 Tackles Won  14
1 Saves 3
14 Clearances 15


  1. That red card really pisses me off.

    • It was stupid on the part of Crevalle. He knew he was on a yellow, and then decided to tackle from behind, when there was no need to.
      He’s an experienced player who should know better.

      • Old Soccer Coach says:

        He didn’t go for the ball he went for the leg. I was a deserved straight red.

      • Section 114 (Formerly) says:

        Nope. It was dangerous, but the leg came in later. Legit yellow. Not that it matters.

        Looking forward two weeks to see what Creavalle and Nogs can do together.

      • Lazlo Hollyfeld says:

        Was is a straight red or a second yellow? I only saw the referee hold up a red as opposed to a yellow-then-red sending off.

      • Section 114 (Formerly) says:

        We saw him go to the shirt pocket before the cut away, and then they cut away and came back to see him show red, uncertain if yellow was shown in between. Not clear how it was called, but it doesn’t matter. A yellow was a red in that situation and he earned a yellow (now about that first one…..).

  2. It’s gonna be feast or famine with this team I don’t think they were as good as their victories would have lead you to believe but they were certainly a better team than Chicago.
    So here we are.

  3. 6 points on 1 home and 3 away games to open the season. I’ll take it and move on.

  4. 2 crossbars and 2 posts. Team is much better and more exciting than last year.
    Poor marking by Tribbett on the goal. He gambled too much that he could intercept the pass.
    Missed opportunities; happens. Can’t wait for Friday.

    • Old Soccer Coach says:

      Or he may have wanted igbononike on his left foot, but yes he over did it. My instinct says your interception theory is correct, though.

  5. 3 of 17 shots on target. A few hit wood but need cleaner finishing.

  6. Great One says:

    Is Dan going to retract the ‘We don’t need a DP scorer?’ Article? All kidding aside, the finishing obviously Has to be better. ThenUnion were the better team otherwise. Pontius was a little less effective than he has been, but Alberg was more aggressive.

    • Old Soccer Coach says:

      Alberg dies after 55 or 60 minutes, he should be doing better by now.
      Ilsinho went ninety, and at times looked as though over short distances he might have have an actual burst of sprint speed. They are playing him back into shape, so we haven’t yet seen him at his best.

      • Ilsinho looks good on the wing. When he is fit he will be great – fun to watch.

      • Another Elastico this week… and a vine with 2 Fire defenders looking stupid. Loving him out there.
        Relive the glory: https://vine.co/v/ijDEmjM6w0w

      • HopkinsMD says:

        Thank you!

      • Did that vine show the defender with a wig/godawful comeover as well?

      • I agree almost everyone has had some great spells of playing well. I still think we need to finish a little better. Carroll and crevalle had a little tougher time tonight. I wonder if any of the new signings could play next to Nogs back there

      • hobosocks says:

        Barnetta mentioned being able to play at 6 in a preseason interview. Don’t know how much experience he has there, but could be a possibility.

  7. Man, I hate Chicago. I know it’s the Windy City but every time you play there it seems like the wind makes it impossible for one of the teams to attack each half. Stands are empty and the soccer stinks- worst venue in MLS, easy. Well, worst actual soccer venue, Yankee Stadium still the worst.

    • Zizouisgod says:

      The Fire usually get decent crowds, but it’s understandable that fans stayed home yesterday. It’s in an odd location, but as a soccer venue, it’s fine. It’s essentially a carbon copy of Pizza Hut Park in Frisco.

      There are a few more worse places to see a MLS match than Bridgeview (Yankee Stadium, RFK and Gillette).

      • Kudos. Any place that has hash marks and the grounds crew carries goals onto the field or a dugout automatically ranks higher on the shit places to watch a MLS match… a cozy second is synthetic grass infilled with Goodyear or Firestone… now if it’s infilled with Pirelli – – – but only open wheel, that may change things a bit.
        Sparse crowd for sure… lake effect notwithstanding.

  8. el Pachyderm says:

    All in all, for the first 50 minutes I thought the club played well enough.
    Chicago clogged us up coming out of our end and yet generally we were able to navigate it through near 50 – 50 possession. I thought offensively once we established possession we ceeded it too easily, creating uneccessary transitions… which is ultimately the greatest area for improvement with this club IMO … because as that ability to maintain possession improves the back line can push up higher and tighten the field and apply a space tourniquet.
    This team is a work in progress. The red card was a bummer I guess as I could not watch final 40minutes. All in all even though Chicago is a rough team finding itself I would have been thrilled with 1 point today.
    Tonight my greatest point of contention is Fabinho who plays like someone on and off his meds… whether antipsychotics or depressants. Man he’s either dialed in or a liability.
    Now it comes down to an appropriate response on Friday.
    Six points after four games I can live with. Six points after five games I cannot.

    • Atomic Spartan says:

      Sorry, I seem to have missed the play where Fabinho was responsible for the Fire Goal.
      No fan of the Rocketman, but just sayin’.

  9. A disappointing result, but we looked the better team. Lots of chances and players combining well. I think it’s clear though that we need a better solution a 6 and 8.

  10. Ridiculous. So frustrating they lost to that crap Chicago team. Nice to see them play well tho, and do the things it takes to win. Just so damn annoying they lost. They are the better team.
    Ilsinho smoked Harrington and that was awesome. Almost scored on the play too. Great to see a guy in a Union shirt pull that stuff off. Excited for this coming Friday night vs Orlando.

  11. Agree 100%. Creavalle and Carroll are not starting quality MLS players. We should trade one of our surplus of attacking midfielders for a true destroyer.

    • Lazlo Hollyfeld says:

      Uri Rosell

      • Zizouisgod says:

        He’s gonna make a lot of money if he comes back to MLS so with Edu’s big contract, why would you tie up so much of your salary cap with defensive midfielders?

        I wouldn’t trade one of our attacking midfielders for a “true destroyer”. Defensive midfielders are a commodity that is not hard to find in MLS or the US. Use that money to upgrade areas that need it more like striker and left back.

      • Atomic Spartan says:

        Depth, depth, depth will give the U fresh legs in late season. One crap game should not issue you a pink slip. Just look at Fabs.

  12. Did anyone else listen to and loathe the Chicago announcers for that game? My god you would have thought Chicago was now poised to win MLS cup by the end of the game. I get that they’re going to be a little biased (especially on things like referees decisions), but I got back from work at the start of the 2nd half and I thought that Chicago had dominated the game by the sound of it. Then they flash the statistics on the screen… Union 12 shots. Chicago 3. Had to go back and watch the first half after that. Couldn’t take those guys at their word.

    • Lazlo Hollyfeld says:

      Klopas (the color guy) let out an audible “YES!!” after the goal went in. I had to mute the announcers midway through the second half because I got tired of listening to them.

      • In fairness to Chicago it is a league wide problem. We really lack good commentators in the country. The guys that do games for TSN in Canada might be my favorite to listen to these days.

      • Zizouisgod says:

        Agreed. Just about every announcing team in MLS (and NBA, FWIW) are homers who openly root for their team and behave like fans.

      • Atomic Spartan says:

        Ever listen to Canadian coverage of Olympics? Their sports commentators seem superior to USA’s. Maybe it comes from just being a more congenial country.

  13. Andy Muenz says:

    Same old Union. Can’t finish their chances and then do something stupid. Creavalle needs a serious talking to before he’s allowed on the field again.
    I can live with the team giving up some goals given their young defense but the veterans on offense need to make up for it at the other end.

  14. Shoutout to Ilsinho for that elastico nutmeg. No one in a union jersey has had the ball skills or balls to pull that off. Ever.

    • I loved it too, but I believe Farfan was the only other player that had the skills and balls for those kinds of moves.

      Loving Ilshinho

      • Balls, maybe. Skills, that’s another debate… Not on a consistent basis, at least. Ilsinho’s got those Brazilian feet. Deft touches.

  15. I know the loss hasn’t hurt us that badly since, up to this point, nobody has said a single word about Curtin. Let me break that silence.
    When Creavalle loses his mind and gets sent off, why doesn’t Jim react with a sub faster? Seba should have been on within a minute. That’s almost exactly the situation you want him in. Counter attacking with Le Toux running in behind CJ as the target man. If we don’t score, whatever, I’ll deal with a point on the road down a man against any MLS team. But break up the play, kill momentum going either way and reorganize to play the game on your terms. He didn’t do that.

    • At this point I would say because every player on the field is a ton better than Le Toux at this point. We’re past the point of needing to be deseperate and send someone like Le Toux back there.

      I think it goes to show it was the right move as we still had periods of good possession and ball movement even a man down. Brining in Le Toux and going pure Stoke doesn’t allow that.

      • Yeah, I’m a LeToux fan, and he made a ton of mistakes after coming in. He was not in sync with what was going on around him — particularly that play when CJ tried to lay the ball to him and he ran the opposite direction.
        Was a frustrating game to watch overall. U were clearly a class or two better than Chicago. Just could not get a goal. Painful. Hope the team bounces back on Friday.

      • I guess my point would be better made like this: I find Seba to be a more effective player when he’s in the game with the lead or level with the opponent searching for a goal. That way the opponent is pressing higher up the pitch, leaving him more space to run in behind. He’s not a possession player (never really was) but in a game where we a) were going to cede possession for long stretches b) needed to move quickly once gaining possession and c) needed a finisher (debate that if you’d like) he became the ideal sub. For about 2 minutes. Until that goal went in. Chicago had license at that point to sit back again, dulling his effect on the game.
        Certainly not saying there was a better sub to be made at the time, or even that I thought Seba was bad considering we were down to 10. Just that Curtin needed to be quicker on the trigger.

    • Andy Muenz says:

      A better question was why didn’t Nogueira come in? The Union are probably going to need him to go 90 next week so it would have been good to get him some time this week.

      • Zizouisgod says:

        It sounds like they thought about bringing Nogs in, but probably didn’t want to risk him in those conditions (bad weather, down a man, etc) as they will definitely need him on Fri

    • I thought the subs were right on point — in fact, I predicted all 3 of them. But I wished each of them had come 5-10 minutes earlier.

  16. I thought the backline looked solid overall, Carroll was Carroll, Creavalle made a really bad decision with that 2nd tackle, but did create the play to setup Sapong for a great chance. Arlberg looked better, but faded. I would like to see more precision from his free kicks, but maybe I’m just impatient from watching his Youtube highlight clip and expecting upper corner rockets most of the time.
    Ilsinho is the most exciting attacking player we have ever had, great signing. The right side was clearly our strength, with Rosenberry and Ilsinho, could get real dangerous on that side. Rosenberry is an excellent prospect, I would take his consistency, upside and youth over Fabinho anyday, but LB is so much tougher to find. Sapong put up a hell of an game in that mid-point of the game. He was snakebit today, but he worked hard, his effort this year is great to see.
    Agree with everybody who said Curtin needs to use his bench earlier, especially good to see Barnetta back. Hope to see the midfield running with everybody available, could be special, but its gonna be awhile with Edu. Herbers might benefit from some full games at Bethlehem, he has the potential to be a solid MLS player, but is raw right now.
    Those announcers were not high quality, wish MLS Live offered the choice of home or away broadcast. If I’m going to listen to homer announcers, at least let it be my own.

    • Yep, that’s the reason why services like mlb.tv still blow away MLS Live and Direct Kick: the ability to choose the feeds (they also have a stadium sound only feed which is fantastic). At least with Direct Kick you can live tweet games; MLS Live isn’t really live (it’s quite a few seconds behind being truly “live”).

      • at least mls live lets me watch philly games. mlb.tv blacks them all out. I understand why, but that doesn’t mean I get to watch the games on it.

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