Union / Union match reports

Match report: Philadelphia Union 3-1 Chicago Fire

Chris Pontius scored twice and C.J. Sapong added a goal as the Union defeated the Chicago Fire 3-1 in Chester on Saturday night.

Pontius finally broke into the goals column with his first two of the season, nodding in a Keegan Rosenberry cross in the 10th minute and knocking home a rebound in the 55th. Sapong tied the single season goals record with his 14th of the year in the 64th minute. Luis Solignac pulled a goal back three minutes later for Chicago.

Jim Curtin made two changes to the team that drew with New York last weekend. Fafa Picault replaced Marcus Epps on the wing and Warren Creavalle came in for Ilsinho. Haris Medunjanin and Alejandro Bedoya were played in front of the defensive midfielder, creating a similar shape to the one that Curtin used in the second half against Red Bull.

The Union were in front early, with Chris Pontius finally getting his first goal of the season in the 10th minute. Creavalle corralled a half-clearance from the Fire after a Union corner and rolled a pass to Keegan Rosenberry on the right side. The right back cut the ball back onto his left and delivered a perfect cross for Pontius to flick in from close range at the near post.

The rest of the half played out with few chances for either side. David Accam had Chicago’s best effort, taking a pass from Michael de Leeuw before firing a shot well wide of Andre Blake’s goal in the 26th minute.

Chris Pontius doubled the Union lead — and his season total — in the 55th minute. Bedoya picked out Picault on the left just inside the Chicago box. An aggressive run inside from the winger made space for a shot from the top of the box that Matt Lampson went down to his left to save. But the Fire goalie left a juicy rebound for Pontius to slot home from eight yards out.

Philadelphia  added a third goal in the 64th minute through C.J. Sapong. Bedoya found Fabinho in space on the left side and the left back fired in a low cross from the endline that Sapong tapped home from six yards. The goal was Sapong’s 14th of the season, tying the Union single season record set in 2010 by Sebastien Le Toux.

The Fire pulled a goal back in the 67th minute. Nemanja Nikolic flicked on a pass from Matt Polster and substitute Luis Solignac was on hand to slam past Blake from eight out.

Philadelphia Union is in action again when they travel to Atlanta on Wednesday (7 p.m.) They return home to host the Seattle Sounders next Sunday (1 p.m.) at Talen Energy Stadium in Chester.


Philadelphia Union

Andre Blake, Fabinho, (Ray Gaddis 90+1′) Richie Marquez, Jack Elliott, Keegan Rosenberry, Warren Creavalle, Chris Pontius, Haris Medunjanin, Alejandro Bedoya, Fafa Picault (Marcus Epps 79′), C.J. Sapong (Jay Simpson 85′)
Unused Subs: John McCarthy, Charlie Davies, Oguchi Onyewu, Roland Alberg

Chicago Fire

Matt Lampson, Johan Kappelhof, Brandon Vincent, Joao Meira, Matt Polster, David Accam (Luis Solignac 59′), Arturo Alvarez (Djordje Mihailovic 67′), Drew Conner, Dax McCarty (Jonathan Campbell 78′), Nemanja Nikolic, Michael de Leeuw
Unused subs:
 Brandy Bronico, David Arshakyan, Michael Harrington, Richard Sanchez

Scoring summary

PHI: Chris Pontius — 10′ (Keegan Rosenberry, Warren Creavalle)
PHI: Chris Pontius — 55′
PHI: C.J. Sapong — 64′ (Fabinho, Alejandro Bedoya)
CHI: Luis Solignac — 67′ (Nemanja Nikolic, Matt Polster)

Disciplinary summary

CHI: Matt Polster — 16′ (unsporting behavior)
CHI: Johan Kappelhof — 42′ (unsporting behavior)
PHI: Keegan Rosenberry — 85′ (unsporting behavior)
PHI: Warren Creavalle — 86′ (unsporting behavior)

Philadelphia Union Chicago Fire
 15 Shots 11
 6 Shots on Target 5
 7 Shots off Target 3
 2 Blocked Shots 3
 6 Corner Kicks 3
 23 Crosses 14
 0 Offsides 1
 14 Fouls 7
 2 Yellow Cards 2
 0 Red Cards 0
 332 Total Passes 497
 79% Passing Accuracy 88%
 41.1% Possession 58.9%
 52 Duels Won 45
 53.6% Duels Won % 46.4%
 16 Tackles Won 15
 4 Saves 2
 13 Clearances 13


  1. Congrats all, you just witnessed Pontius earn his starting spot for the next two seasons!

  2. One correction to the end of the article. Next Sunday is the Union’s next home game but they are in Atlanta Wednesday night.

  3. Kenny Rogers says:

    “Yeah, yeah, oh-yeah, what condition my condition was in

    I pushed my soul in a deep dark hole and then I followed it in
    I watched myself crawling out as I was a-crawling in
    I got up so tight I couldn’t unwind
    I saw so much I broke my mind
    I just dropped in to see what condition my condition was in…”
    my positive worldview says I’m supposed to be happy my inner cynic feels resentment… “I just dropped in to see what condition my condition was in.”

  4. Just when I think I’m out, they pull me back in.
    Tactical flexibility? Playing to strengths? CJ tying a club record?
    Let’s give it one more week and see what happens. Not enough has changed, but least the willingness to try a new formation (not rocket science) was welcomed.
    Oh…and Pontius will be starting for LAFC next year. But we’ve enjoyed him while he was here, and I’m glad to see him get back on the positive side of things.

  5. huh go figure…

  6. Being there tonight all I wanted was an entertaining game and of course to see Schweinstager. He didn’t play, obviously, but I’ll be damned if the Union didn’t put on a show. Bedoya was freakin EVERYWHERE and was man of the match for me.
    So frustrating that this team can play games like this, but unfortunately it only happens like once every two months.
    This win solves nothing but it shows they aren’t completely devoid of talent.
    The good: Marquez and Elliott were solid. Pontius scoring and playing an all around pretty good game. Bedoya (already mentioned, but worth it again) – dude was good. Crevalle – BC 2.0
    The bad: the goal was on Rosenberry who I thought, otherwise, had a nice game. Fabinho switches on and off too often, but wasn’t terrible tonight.
    Nice win tonight. Looked Iike an actual team.

    • The ability to play at a high level every week is what separates good players from whatever the union currently have. A lot of players have a high skill level but very few can play at that level every week. Too often this gets blamed on the coach, but it really comes down to the players mental makeup. It’s why these guys were cheap and available for the union. We can’t keep clinging to the infrequent positive play and hoping a different coach will get different results. We need actual good players!

      • It’s a lack of both.
        Look at Dallas, they were rocking specifically because of the coach. More recently though, the lack of talent has caught up with them.

  7. They had a horrendous 10-minute stretch from about 70:00 to 80:00 when all they could do was give the damn ball away, and I was sure they were going to blow their lead. But they actually held on. Against a good team!

    I hope nobody gets too excited, though. This team has been terrible on the road, and we are about to run into a buzzsaw on Wednesday. And then, of course, everyone will be too tired to play well next weekend. But enjoy the all-too-rare 3 points.

    • against a good team without some of its best players… these are the facts of the case.

      • Very true. Like the Red Bull match, the result doesn’t tell the whole story.

      • Old Soccer Coach says:

        Yes, we did not see The Fire’s A side.
        First, that illustrates the importance of having one or two players of the next higher quantum level of quality.
        Second, it shows how close the bottom of the table can be to the top of the table. In a word, parity

  8. Old Soccer Coach says:

    I await the results of Adam Cann’s eyes.
    That said, it struck me that the Union played with a pace and a pressure that was reminiscent of last season.
    The deployment of the particular central defensive triangle facilitated that pressure. Will that triangle be as effective against a striker and attacking center mid who high press them defensively, because Creavalle and Marquez are vulnerable to being pressured into offensive breakdowns.
    Last thought, addressed to those who argue that the technical staff cannot coach, the question is who has improved Warren Creavalle? Two seasons ago he was a headless chicken rushing about aimlessly back there at #6.
    Either the technical staff has created improvement, BC has earned every dime of his salary for informally coaching him up the way Gooch has for Elliott, or a higher power beyond human comprehension has intervened. WC is not the second coming of Claude Makalele. But he’s considerably improved. He has contributed to it himself, no doubt. But very likely he has had help.

    • Agree 100% on WC. Fabinho, also, has been much better, over the past 2 years.

    • I think Warren has just come closer to realizing he isn’t a two-way guy. He’s beginning to realize (but still forgets) that he’s a destroyer, not a creator. Love the guy’s energy.
      +1 about the formation and its resulting pressure. Probably a different game with Basti’s leadership.

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