Union / Union match reports

Match report: Philadelphia Union 4-3 Chicago Fire

Roland Alberg scored a hat trick and hit a shot that resulted in a Chicago own goal as the Union held on to defeat the Fire 4-3 in Chester on Wednesday night.

David Accam gave Chicago the lead in the 2nd minute, but Alberg’s saved shot deflected in off Jonathan Campbell less than ten minutes later.

Alberg would need no help with the next three: He scored in the 15th and 45th minutes, then fired a penalty home in the 56th minute for the Union’s first hat trick since Sebastien Le Toux had one in the Union’s first ever home game in 2010.

First Half

Jim Curtin made three changes to the team that lost in New York on Saturday Fabinho replaced Ray Gaddis at left back, Roland Alberg started for Warren Creavalle, and Ilsinho took Sebastien Le Toux’s spot on the right wing.

Chicago was able to take the lead before many Union fans had even found their seats. David Accam outmuscled Ken Tribbett near midfield then disappeared Brian Carroll in a fifty yard foot race before poking the ball past Andre Blake.

Philadelphia drew level in the 11th minute. Good build up play started on the left side with Chris Pontius advancing down the sideline. His long pass pushed Ilsinho wide toward the far right corner, and the Brazilian pulled back for Keegan Rosenberry near the top of the box. The right back floated in a cross that Pontius smartly dummied, leaving it for Alberg on the far post. The midfielder’s snap shot was pushed onto the inside of the post by Sean Johnson, but it ricocheted toward the center of the goal, off Jonathan Campbell, and into the net.

The Union took the lead just four minutes later when Alberg definitively got his name on the scoresheet. More good build up play down the left side saw the ball slide across the top of the box for Tranquillo Barnetta to fire a shot from 19 yards that took a slight deflection and beat Johnson but rebounded off the right post. Fabian Herbers could not wrangle the rebound, but Alberg was on hand to fire into the top corner from 10 yards out.

Both Chicago and Philadelphia had great opportunities to score as the half wore on. Pontius found time and space to shoot from 22 yards but fired a daisycutter just wide of Johnson’s goal in the 27th minute. Razvan Cocis did well to work a shooting opportunity that Accam fired over the bar from eight yards in the 32nd minute.

The Union doubled their advantage just before the halftime whistle. Barnetta started the move with a driving run down the center of the field, laying it to his right to find Fabian Herbers behind the Fire backline. The striker’s shot was fought off by Johnson but the rebound fell to the feet of Alberg. The Dutchman had his first shot repelled by a retreating Fire defender but made no mistake with his second effort, hitting a low blast into back of the net for his second goal of the match.

Second Half

Philadelphia would introduce Josh Yaro at the start of the second half, replacing Ken Tribbett who was on a yellow card and struggling with the sizzling pace of David Accam.

The Union had two good chances in the opening minutes of the second half. In the 46th minute, Alberg controlled off his chest and fired a full volley that Johnson pushed over the bar. A minute later, Keegan Rosenberry found space to shoot but drove his shot high over Johnson’s goal.

Alberg would not be denied his hat trick. In the 56th minute, Chris Pontius made a strong run into the Fire box from the left side and Jonathan Campbell was forced to pull down the wide man from behind. Referee Jaime Herrera wasted no time pointing to the spot, though he did not produce the obvious card the situation required. Alberg stutter-stepped approaching the spot kick to send Johnson the wrong way before dispatching his shot low and to the left.

Chicago pulled a goal back in the 69th minute. A short corner kick routine was worked to substitute Rodrigo Ramos, who lofted in a cross from 25 yards out on the right side. Razvan Cocis was quickest to the ball and fired in from close range past Andre Blake at the near post.

The Fire made it a one goal game with another set piece goal in the 80th minute. Khaly Thiam finished a John Goossens corner kick first time to pull the Fire within one.

But that would be as close as Chicago would come; Philadelphia saw out the final 10 minutes with relative ease.

The Union are back action when Vancouver Whitecaps come to Chester on Saturday night at 7pm EST.

Philadelphia Union
Andre Blake, Fabinho, Richie Marquez, Ken Tribbett (Joshua Yaro 46′), Keegan Rosenberry, Brian Carroll, Roland Alberg (Warren Creavalle 77′), Chris Pontius, Ilsinho (Sebastien Le Toux 72′), Tranquillo Barnetta, Fabian Herbers
Unused Subs: John McCarthy, Leo Fernandes, Walter Restrepo, Ray Gaddis

Chicago Fire
Sean Johnson, Brandon Vincent, Johan Kappelhof, Eric Gehrig (John Goossens 60′), Michael Harrington (Rodrigo Ramos 46′), Jonathan Campbell, Razvan Cocis, Michael Stephens (Alex Morrell 85′), Khaly Thiam, Kennedy Igboananike, David Accam
Unused subs: Drew Conner, Joao Meira, Nick LaBrocca, Matt Lampson

Scoring Summary
CHI: David Accam (Michael Stephens) — 2′
PHI: Jonathan Campbell (OG) — 11′
PHI: Roland Alberg — 15′
PHI: Roland Alberg — 45′
PHI: Roland Alberg (PK) — 54′
CHI: Razvan Cocis (Rodrigo Ramos) — 69′
CHI: Khaly Thiam (John Goossens) –80′

Disciplinary Summary
PHI: Brian Carroll (unsporting behavior) — 36′
PHI: Ken Tribbett (unsporting behavior) — 37′
PHI: Roland Alberg (unsporting behavior) — 58′
CHI: Jonathan Campbell (foul) –86′

Philadelphia Union Chicago Fire
 17 Shots 14
 9 Shots on Target 5
 6 Shots off Target 5
 2 Blocked Shots 4
 6 Corner Kicks 4
 10 Crosses 22
 2 Offsides 1
 16 Fouls 13
 3 Yellow Cards 1
 0 Red Cards 0
 458 Total Passes 473
 78% Passing Accuracy 78%
 48.5% Possession 51.5%
 37 Duels Won 57
 39.4% Duels Won % 60.6%
 11 Tackles Won 13
 2 Saves 4
 26 Clearances 16


  1. Umm Alberg.
    Come on Jim… great to see this gentleman get some more PT– no matter the circumstances- that’s 5 goals in 3 games there sir- and one sporting Director who knows what the hell he is doing.
    Nice when the three best players on the field are a Brazilian, a Dutchman and a Swissman.
    BTW anyone see in the 39th minute when Chris Pontius displayed all the warts of US Soccer and our inability to unlock a defense?
    … Herbers masterfully drags his defender out of position opening this ENORMOUS hole which Barnetta is preparing to enter and Pontius is fumblefucking the ball with his eyes glued to his feet… OH! MY! how in an instant the window POOFed …and there was Chris- still on the ball, still half a second behind in his thinking…. Oh! Me! Oh! My!. That is why we are still lightyears behind friends—- but hey non of that matters, cause Umm Alberg scored 3 goals tonight.
    Or one better…Anybody see the little girl wink into the camera during the Chilean National anthem tonight as though she was World Class herself? Total and absolute MAGIC by her. Loved it.

    • Andy Muenz says:

      Thanks a whole bunch. I had forgotten about the Chile – Colombia game until I read your last comment. So I turn it on to check out the result and they are showing the friggin’ US-Argentina game again. Just what I really wanted to see…

    • My imaginary post NYCFC phone conversation.
      Umm Jim.

      – Hey, Ern.
      Umm, I’m thinking Alberg.

      -Okay Ern.
      Thanks, Jim
      -Sure Ern.

      • I think that’s totally unfair. Alberg was not ready to go at the start of the season. It was without a doubt better to roll out Nogs and Barnetta. He still hasn’t shown great endurance yet so he wasn’t starting the NYC game, the Nogs departure messed up the plans for that one. We are lucky Alberg is ready not though because we need him.

    • Yes, I literally slapped my forehead when Pontius missed Barnetta’s run.

      • Nice when the three best players on the field are a Brazilian, a Dutchman and a Swissman.
        I am really looking forward to Edu being added to this mix. His class is on par with them.

  2. Andy Muenz says:

    Good thing the Union got those insurance goals. They really need to work on their corner kick defending and keeping their concentration late. I thought bringing Yaro in at halftime was a smart move. Still not sure how Campbell didn’t get a yellow on the PK. If that had happened at midfield, it would have been a yellow so it should still be one in the penalty box.

  3. The second Fire goal is all on Blake, in my opinion. The ball was in his hands but he fumbled over the end line, resulting in the corner described above. Sure, the team as a whole could’ve played some damn defense on the play. But if Blake simply makes that catch – the ball was in his hands! – there’s no corner.
    The ref was absolutely putrid. Even by MLS standards.

  4. JC gave an “F” to the D. But more specifically set piece D. That’s training, not personnel. JC said playing this way will mean a loss Saturday. On short rest, will either Alberg or Ilsinho start against the Caps? In fairness, I suspect that Nogs’ departure blindsided the FO or those two would not have played so much in the USOC match 3 days before. Will JC use the leaky D to change the midfielders? Will Sapong play?

    • Lets be totally clear: Alberg plays every minute he can from here until he’s been run into the ground. Its been earned. Only bright spot really against NYCFC, scores 2 in the USOC and first hat trick since Seba in 2010. And given the way Curtin was running his “best XI” before the copa break, he’ll get the nod saturday.
      We do need to adjust around that now though, since it looks like tonight’s midfield won’t be playing much defense when together. I’ll guess Ilsinho comes off the bench and Seba starts wide, although the striker situation could alter that and potentially push Restrepo into service.

      • el Pachyderm says:

        How bout when edu is healthy. I like the line up.
        Edu, Barnetta, Ilsinho, Alberg.

      • Once Edu is healthy and if no Nogs replacement comes in yet I would love to invert the midfield and see more of a 4-1-4-1 look:
        Pontius, Alberg, Barnetta, Ilsinho
        Fabinho, Marquez, Tribbet/Yaro, R’Berry
        Edu can cover the ground and the more that Barnetta and Alberg play together the better they will get at finding a balance on when one gets forward the other covers.

      • That is a wonderful idea and great if we need offense but there is no way we could roll Edu as the 6. He does not play enough defense to cover for the backs like a Carroll. I love Mo but when he is put in the midfield, he always seems to be caught out of position pressing too forward and that will leave out backline very exposed over the course of a game.

      • I think that can be overcome with coaching and an expectation of his role. When Edu was here we had 0 talent in the midfield and he was asked to do it all.

        Now that we are good, we know we need him to be a #6. He knows it. He played a #6 his whole career. He has the skillset and build for it. I think he’ll be great there, personally.

      • Old Soccer Coach says:

        Yaro over Tribett.
        You’ve forgotten about Sapong? They need him for the hold-up play.
        And don’t discount the German having combined with the Swiss, the Dutchman, and the Brazilian

    • Set piece defense is not totally on training in my opinion. I agree a good part of it is, but set pieces are like rugby scrums and each player has to fight to stay with their assignment. The coach can work in training on assignments (man vs. zone, man on one post, men on both posts, Marquez covers player X, etc.) but he can’t control anything beyond that. You have to want it more.

      • Agreed. I exaggerated. My fear is C’s distress at giving up 2 on them will change our midfield. Instead let’s work on how to play with a lead. We needed more possession and fewer turnovers in the last 35. By continuing to press, we allowed those chances.

      • Old Soccer Coach says:

        Defending corners. Chicago had four and scored two.
        They left the front post, yes, front post undefended. Open. Unmarked.k. That is unconventional. Often, against a short corner, the back post man moves front post as the front post races out to cover the short play.

      • JC says guys “fell asleep.” Tactical or misexecuted, fix it without disturbing this midfield to the extent possible. Also, Fire won possession stat from 70 – 80, when they get these restarts. No excuse for losing possession stat up by 3. Then you might not have 2 corners to defend.

  5. Let me just say this: Chicago is complete garbage.
    So anyway… I was one freaking second away from saying to my dad, as we watched the game from our seats in 127… “Man, they came out and dominated tonight. I am officially done with the, oh will they hold on… they better not make his close, and pull an old school Union crap…” AND BAM! the second goal… and then a 3rd. I just can’t trust this team yet. Yes, they won. Yes they got 3 points. Yes, at times it looked like they were playing around with Chicago… but a 4-1 lead at home shouldn’t be a 4-3 win. A better team and we are talking about dropping points. Ok rant over.
    I like Barnetta at the 8 and Alberg at the 10. I know it was against bad competition but Alberg is so damn confident and looked really good and comfortable in that spot.
    Yaro sub was necessary and well done. Accam was crushing Tribbett and that’s not disrespect to Tribbett… he just couldn’t keep up.
    Blake seems a little human lately. Maybe we were so spoiled early on, but he seems a little off.

    • Good point about Blake. I think he wants the Fire’s second goal back.
      Most important thing for a keeper is focus. With how many games Blake has been playing and the travel to play with the Reggie Boys I wonder if he is a little mentally exhausted.

    • Jim Presti says:

      Accam pulled the same move on Tribbett two or three and our CB never adjusted. Then you top that with Accam’s foot speed and Tribbett was toast.

      • OneManWolfpack says:

        Yeah it looked like Tribbett assumed he could body him up, or shoulder him, and it just didn’t work… at all. Good sub by Curtin.

  6. Lucky Striker says:

    still trying to figure out what formation Philly was in during half one………

    Whatever it was, it sure excited #11 red.

    Or maybe he was just happy they were so Accamodating early on.

  7. So glad I got an Arlberg shirt last month! He was an absolute delight tonight!

  8. Old Soccer Coach says:

    Two general observations.
    We were dead flat gassed by the end of the game. Herbers was fork ready. So was Barnetta. Last fifteen minutes of the first half, Chicago was beating us to the ball. So, has the conditioning advantage created by two-a days been overcome?.
    Ilsinho seems to play less as a winger and more as an offensive double pivot attacking center mid alongside Alberg, leaving the classic wing spot open for Rosenberry to run onto. Did the same in the USOC game v. City Islanders. I am reminded of the old W offensive formation from the late 60s.
    And did you notice how David Accam made no move whatsoever to defend against Rosenberry.
    Boy do we miss CJ Sapong. Herbers gave it his all, but he rarely won the head balls. He does combine nicely with Barnetta, Alberg, and Ilsinho when all are full of energy, etc.

    • el Pachyderm says:

      Interesting observation… would argue it is the tendency for players of this caliber draw closer together in the attack. They want to be in tight quarters. Short crisp passing… passing for passing’s sake to purposefully move the defense…
      I saw at least three occurrences where Barnetta, Ilsinho and Alberg were playing their own 3 man game together… they just moved the triangle to different spots on the field and the best part was the tempo of the game… everything slowed down.
      Funny I like Herbers game much more than Sapong’s… way more sophisticated.

      • To call Herbers ‘sophisticated’ completely diminishes what Sapong brings to the table, and over rates Herbers. Herbers is Jack Mac and he’s not even as good as Jack Mac. It is very hard to find an above average ‘hold up’ striker and Sapong has done well enough to earn conversation on the national level again.
        Sapong > Herbers at this stage of their career. It is not even close.

      • I like Herbers’ potential and Sapong in equal measure. I think Herbers still needs seasoning but I agree there seems to be a little more clever elements to his game.
        That said, who is in the midfield should compliment who is playing up top. When players like Barnetta, Ilsinho, and Alberg are all on together I like Herbers because the three of them can build up the attack together and draw a crowd to them which opens up lanes for the clever, blind spot runs that Herbers makes. But when players like Le Toux, Pontius, and Crevalle are on the field it makes sense to have someone like Sapong up top so the team can play more direct since he can hold up the ball and let them make vertical runs into the box.
        In any case, it is very nice and useful to have multiple ways to attack. Last season when the U had Sapong, Fernando, and Casey as the primary striking options, the attack was way to predictable (crosses and set pieces).

      • This is pretty much what I was getting at. I respect CJ… certainly understand how he helps the team…. It is all a matter of what type of game you are looking forward to watching.
        CJ holds up play well. Works his tail off. Pretty good defender up top….Kudos. I’ve also seen enough of him around the box to know… middling skill.
        I’d take (a) Herbers type with Alberg, Barnetta and Ilsinho every time…

      • Old Soccer Coach says:

        Then you have to eliminate the long aerial central clearance from your defense’s repertoire. Look at the duels won statistic above.
        Herbers does not contest such clearances. Period. They automatically recycle the ball to the opposition.
        And Brian Carroll, while he brings a smile of pleasure to my face when he tries to make an offensive territory-gaining pass, is not a reliable source for advancing the ball in possession.
        Yaro may be. Marquez goes long always (until Adam Cann’s close analysis show’s otherwise). You need duplicate Yaro-Marquez hybrids in the back to eschew the route 1 clearance. Such hybrids command Eurpean top Euros (see Barcelona). Rosenberry and Fabinho can clear using short possession, Gaddis not so much, even though he has improved it beyond my fondest hope.

      • .
        I’m fine with this unless it is Leonardo Bonucci like…

      • Very astute analysis.

      • I definitely really like Herbers. His movement and technique is really nice. Buuut he also can’t win headers most of the time and last night he wasn’t getting fouls called which is often the result from him going for aerials. In the last stages of the game we really missed having Sapong up there to win the ball and relieve some pressure. Herbers also struggles at pressing with the team, you could see Barnetta instucting him at times throughout the game. So really I’m glad we have both.

      • Jim Presti says:

        The big element here is that Sapong is a great pressure release and his defensive press is more seasoned and sophisticated. Herbers is very talented and has a ton to learn, and I’m willing to predict that he will be better than CJ in a few short seasons – especially with Alberg, Barnetta, and Ilsinho on the pitch playing the ball to his feet.

      • It’s no surprise that a lot of players looked better. Ilsinho makes the players around him better, specifically Rosenberry looked great again. Barnetta at the #8 brought way more to the attack than Nogs because he busted his butt to get up field.
        I think the reason the team was gassed is because we were missing our endurance hogs. Nogs, CJ, Le Toux can always go the whole game, Barnetta had way more running than normal because of the way he plays the #8. Alberg, Herbers, and Ilsinho have not really proven they can consistently go for the full 90.

  9. The defense looked shakey all night.. seemed like a lot of emergency tackles. Not sure what I was not seeing. Accam faster than all of them? Really nice to see Alberg shooting on frame. Herbers is good but the team has to find the right balance with him on the pitch.

    • Old Soccer Coach says:

      Trust your eyes.
      Only Yaro could stay with him. He waxed everybody else. And poor BC trying to mark Accam in emergencies set my teeth on edge. I almost couldn’t watch.
      Yaro is short, but his upper body power is improving noticeably. Accam is strong and tried some wrestling throws. Yaro absorbed and stayed on his feet in position.

      • Yeah, I don’t understand leaving all 3 of our fastest defensive (Yaro, Creavalle, Gaddis) out against a team that literally only attacks by being faster than people.

      • Ok..I am feeling better…I just got new glasses and was worried I needed to go back for another exam! Thanks for the help!

  10. Andy Muenz says:

    8 goals in 3 games (10 in 4 including the Open Cup) is not going to make Curtin happy. Also, this makes 5 straight where the Union have found themselves down 1-0 with the last 3 going down in the first 15 minutes. Yes, they have 8 points in those 5 games but the defense needs to tighten up.
    On the other hand, they are now tied for the lead for most goals scored with 27.

    • Old Soccer Coach says:

      You hit the nailhead right between the eyes.
      We’d all better chip in to get Curtin an Amazon monthly subscription to Antacids by the case!

  11. Was so happy for Alberg last night that for I moment I wished it were like hockey and the field was littered with hats for him. Really like him teamed up with Barnetta and really like the statement he made with his play last night.

    • Growing up a hockey man, I miss this gesture in soccer. Since it’s only our second in team history, I can’t expect SOBs to have something at the ready. But if the third hat trick is around the corner, we can all be happy.

      • OneManWolfpack says:

        And I believe the first, and only before last night, was LeToux in our very first game at the Linc… right?
        I also wanted to to throw my hat 🙂

      • Correct. That’s the first time a Union player scored a hat trick at PPL/Talen/whatever we’re going to call it next year.

  12. I’ve been waiting for this when the season started and Alberg was starting. I mentioned there would be a point he would break out. The red card and benching derailed it longer than I thought, but now everyone sees why he is here. The other thing I noted with Alberg is his runs never go fully through the box he is always the late last runner and stops at the 12 or 8 this cause problems as all the defenders continue to the 6. Makes great options for the cut back and/or recycling of the ball if a shot can’t be gotten off. It also gives him space to work with still. His runs stopping here allows Barnetta, Pontius and Herbers to all make runs through, meaning you got people coming from outside in, deep lying coming through and short quick near post runs by Herbers. It is an interesting tactic I think and one that benefits Alberg, Barnetta and Ilsinho being on the field together.

    • OneManWolfpack says:

      Spot on about Alberg not going all the way into the box. I said the same thing to my dad toward the end of the game. Loved the way Alberg played the entire game.

      • Yup Alberg is certainly quality he has a different style of play and skill set from others on the team and I think he could be a key piece going forward. I like what he is showing.

  13. Anyone else notice that Herbers seemed to have some kind of issue late in the game? It looked like he was trying to stretch out an ankle or leg cramp on the goalpost and seemed to be hobbled for the remainder of the match. All the subs were used at that point so he had to stay in.

  14. My 2nd favorite part of the evening (after the hat trick) was the press person trying to interview a Chicago player right in front of the SOBs and getting shouted down. Classic!

Leave a Reply

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