Union match reports

Match report: Chicago Fire 3-4 Philadelphia Union

Philadelphia Union gave up three leads before finally pulling away for good in the sixth minute of stoppage time thanks to a solo effort from David Accam to earn a 4-3 win over Chicago Fire on the road.

Accam’s first MLS goal for the Union capped off a wild conclusion to the match that included a Bastian Schweinsteiger equalizer three minutes into stoppage time. The German great’s header off a corner appeared to be enough to earn Chicago a come-from-behind draw before Accam, in his first appearance at Toyota Park since his spring move from the Fire, tore apart Chicago’s backline in the final seconds of the match.

Lost in the mad ending was Cory Burke’s two-goal performance. After much fanfare, Burke finally got the start at striker over the slumping C.J. Sapong and rewarded manager Jim Curtin with a powerful header in the first half and an opportunistic goal in the 73rd minute.

The match got off to a rather mellow start, with neither team seeming particular eager to attack in their respective final thirds. The Union were focused early on finding Fafa Picault at speed versus Chicago right back Kevin Ellis. For Chicago, the game plan was to let red hot winger Alexsander Katai run at Philadelphia’s young backline.

When Ellis was subbed off early due to injury, Chicago moved to a back three. Soon after, the injury bug caught the Union with Ilsinho being forced off in the 17th minute, giving way to Accam.

The Union’s press gave Chicago’s clumsy backline fits all night, causing turnovers that led to early chances for both Burke and Keegan Rosenberry. Philadelphia opened the scoring in the 31st minute by capitalizing on one of those blunders. A bumbling Chicago clearance was pounced on by Haris Medunjanin, suddenly playing a gegenpress-ing striker. Medunjanin juked two defenders before flicking the ball with the outside of his foot past Chicago goalkeeper Richard Sanchez to put the Union up 1-0. It was the beginning of a very long night for Sanchez.

The lead didn’t last long, though, as the game intensified after the goal and Chicago realized they were in the middle of a soccer match.

The newly re-signed Katai drove relentlessly at Keegan Rosenberry all night; he finally got behind the Union’s right back in the 38th minute and lured center back Mark McKenzie into an unnecessary challenge for an obvious penalty. 2017 Golden Boot winner Nemanja Nikolic stepped up to the spot and crushed the ball past a diving Andre Blake to even the scoreline at 1-1.

Philadelphia responded confidently to close out the first half. Just minutes later, Cory Burke found the end of a looping Picault cross to head it with authority into Chicago’s net and retake the lead. Burke was able to adjust in the box for a back post run before jumping through both Johan Kappelhof and Diego Campos for a brilliant finish.

In the second half, the Union found joy up the right flank through a suddenly lively Accam. The former Fire man looked potent combining with Cory Burke as Chicago pushed higher up the pitch and ceded space about 30 yards from goal. Both players had chances go wanting, with Accam looking especially eager (for the first time in a while) to find the back of the net.

Instead, it was Chicago who would get on the board next. Some nice combination play from Chicago’s midfield let Katai drag across the top of the box and hit a slow, but perfectly-placed shot past Blake to again even the score at 2-2.

Philadelphia would take the lead again thanks to Burke, Accam, and some very (very) shaky goalkeeping from Chicago’s netminder. A 73rd minute Accam cross was bobbled by Sanchez and fell right into Burke’s lap. The Union’s sudden super-striker simply raised his thigh to put the ball past the line and earn a brace on the night.

Down 3-2 with 15 minutes left, Chicago brought on late-game sorcerer Alan Gordon and went decidedly Route 1 tactically, hoofing the ball up the field to Gordon, Katai, and Nikolic. The payoff finally came three minutes into stoppage time when Schweinsteiger scored off a well-weighted corner from Diego Campos to tie the game at three goals apiece.

Four minutes into stoppage time, the game looked poised for a draw and it appeared that the Union had, again, blown a lead on the road.

Scrambling for a moment of magic, the ball fell to Accam in the center of the pitch as the clock ticked toward the 96th minute. The winger, riding the bench for months, sprung toward the right flank as he sped away from Tony Tchani. On a mission, Accam forced the ball through the legs of a hesitant Jorge Corrales and ripped a shot across the goal. The ball rounded the last defender and past the outstretched arms of the beleaguered Sanchez to put the Union in front 4-3. It was Accam’s first MLS goal in a Philadelphia Union shirt.

But still the game was not over. Chicago hit a Hail Mary ball downfield and earned a free kick just inches outside the Union box. And against all odds, Katai sent the ball innocently over the bar to send the Union back to Philadelphia with three points in the bag.

Three (plus one) points
  • Come on, Accam! After 19 games of wanting, it took all of ten seconds for David Accam to show Philly fans what he’s capable of. Running at defenders as the game was all but over, Accam singlehandedly pulled magic out of his right boot to give the Union the win. Let’s see if he can conjure that spell again in a week-and-a-half at home versus a porous Galaxy back line.
  • Burke makes the fans looks smart. After weeks of calls for the productive Jamaican to earn a start at striker, Curtin finally gave Cory Burke the nod. Burke paid his manager’s decision back two-fold with a brace that highlighted his intelligent off-the-ball movement and tenacity in front of goal.
  • Blake sets the record. He let in three goals, but Andre Blake’s record setting 288th (and beyond) save to become the all-time club leader is certainly an impressive accomplishment for the Jamaican. How many games has Blake stood on his head? Another keeper may only be approaching 250 in as many starts.
  • Playoffs? Toronto has lost their collective minds. Montreal is hot and cold. Chicago’s backline looks like they belong in the PDL. The competition isn’t exactly fierce and suddenly Philadelphia is back in playoff contention. It was hardly a complete performance, but a road win is a road win in MLS (and for the Union). Can they be consistent enough to sneak into the top six of the Eastern Conference?

Philadelphia Union

Andre Blake, Keegan Rosenberry, Mark McKenzie, Auston Trusty, Ray Gaddis, Haris Medunjanin, Alejandro Bedoya, Borek Dockal (Creavalle 66′), Ilsinho (Accam 17′), Fafa Picault, Cory Burke (Sapong 78′)
Unused Subs: John McCarthy, Fabinho, Jack Elliott, Marcus Epps

Chicago Fire

Sanchez, Corrales, Campbell, Kappelhof, Ellis (Collier 13′), Bronico (Gordon 76′), McCarty (Tchani 86′), Campos, Schweinsteiger, Katai, Nikolic
Unused subs: Cleveland, Dean, Adams, Bakero

Scoring summary

PHI: Haris Medunjanin – 31′
CHI: Nemanja Nikolic – 40′ (PK)
PHI: Cory Burke – 45′ +3 (Picault)
CHI: Alexsander Katai – 69′ (Schweinsteiger)
PHI: Cory Burke – 74′
CHI: Bastian Schweinsteiger – 90′ +4 (Campos)
PHI: David Accam – 90′ +6 (Medunjanin)


  1. el Pachyderm says:

    That solves that, right Jim.
    Or does overspending for a 4 year contract preclude said player being a 70th minute sub to see out a lead (hey, where did I hear that before- oh wait it was me.) did anybody see Fafa following Corey into the space Corey just vacated? Yes that’s how you play as a 9- create space for your teammates.
    In other news, has England not been watching Croatia all tournament? You sleep walking zombies (who reverted back to old arrogant ways) cost you a chance to win the greatest of all trophies …… yet again.
    It’s Croatia…. you needed to score again. Dolts.

    • I knew if Croatia could hang within a goal they’d have a chance. Going to Extra time they were going to win. All England had to do was score another in that strong first half. But they dried up and it’s unfortunate going out they way they did. Croatia played their same, effective game. France should blow them away. But here we are, and you’d be a fool for underestimating Croatia again.

  2. John O'Donnell says:

    That goal by David Accam was everything I thought this team was getting on daft day. He wasn’t going to be denied and the finish was sublime. That being said, it’s 19 games into the season.

    Truthfully the biggest difference in this game was two goals from the striker position. The midfield was average at best and Dočkal was invisible for most the game. Also, Badoya just can’t finish at all, it’s either over the bar or right at the goalie.

    The good news is they win on the road and they can still play better. What’s the chances we see Fafa, Burke & Accam again?

    • Flew to Prague this week for work. Jakub Voráček was in the row in front of me. He said unsurprisingly that Dočkal enjoys Philly significantly more then China.

      The flight was awesome, in that 5 hours in we lost cabin pressure and had to fly 90 minutes back West at 10,000 ft to land in St John’s.

    • I think that Dockal’s invisibility could be due to the one week old infant that likely hasn’t slept or allowed him to think about anything else. He gets a pass in my book this week. I was worried about Medunjanin for a while, though. Until the goal, he seemed to be wrongfooting his passes and having a hard time with his teammates. Good to see production from the striker position, and from David “You wouldn’t Like Me If I am Angry” Accam. Fun to watch, if a bit nerve-wracking.

      • I forgot about Dockal’s infant. Hugely important in all this.

      • Since I had kids, I’ve wondered about this with professional athletes. I certainly didn’t have my best week ever at work after we came home from the hospital, but when you’re a pro athlete making millions and for whom a good night’s sleep is crucial to your ability to do a job that is both mentally and physically demanding, do you bring in extra nannies and household help so you can be at your best for your team as the breadwinner, or do you roll up your sleeves and suck it up like the rest of us working stiffs? Not suggeating either is wrong, just wonder what athletes typically do?

  3. The Chopper says:

    When you have a striker capable of finishing some of the chances the club creates, you don’t have to play perfect to win. Welcome to the Union Mr. Accam, better late than never.

  4. The Truth says:

    Of course they go to bed after Schweinsteiger equalizes. Wait, no, I mean of course I equalized after going to bed… No, not me, Schweinsteiger. Schweinsteiger went to bed. Wait, what? What happened?

    • DougButters says:

      I also went to Schweinsteiger when they scored. Nice to wake up and find out they went to bed though!

    • OneManWolfpack says:

      I woulda bet my house is was gonna be Alan Gordon in stoppage time. Regardless, my sleeping dog and wife were none to happy when Accam scorched that winner into the side panel. 3 points… stolen!

      • Not really 3 points stolen, more like 3 points salvaged. I thought the Union were the better team over 90+ minutes.

  5. Andy Muenz says:

    Accam is definitely an enigma. Even before the winner he was having his best day offensively in a Union shirt. (After the winner, the shirt was gone.) He did make one good play defensively on a corner kick, but for the most part, he was invisible on defense and wasn’t tracking back. I know Rosenberry and McKenzie will take heat with the first two goals coming down their side but part of it was the fact that they weren’t getting help from Accam.
    Not sure if it was the Union or the Chicago broadcast but it was annoying that they missed the setup to the first goal as they were still showing the replay of whatever had happened at the other end. Way too many replays during live action in the telecast last night.

  6. Zizouisgod says:

    Seven goals by both teams in the last 60 min. That’s nuts!

    • Buccistick says:

      Yeah, insanity. I mean, who could have predicted that Curtin would start Burke over CJ?!
      Seriously, even SportsCenter got in on the unprecedented late-game heroics, with a crawl touting this as MLS’s first-ever match to feature two goals after 90+4′.
      Or as Bedoya summarized it in his congratulatory tweet to Accam: “MLS gonna MLS.”

  7. Any road win for the Union is good regardless how it was achieved. Burke needs to start every game until they acquire a “quality DP “striker when the trade period opens up.It was great to see Accam score the dramatic game winner but 1 goal every 15 to 20 games is not worth 1.5 million.

  8. Those last 20-25 minutes….

    I went from joy to anger to happiness to anger to ecstasy (and apparently woke up my sleeping family multiple times).

    My wife this morning – “Between your driving and sports watching, it’s a small miracle our kids don’t curse like sailors in public.”

    I love CJ, he is an awesome dude, BUT goals aside, the runs and movement Burke was making were absolutely game changing. Sure it was against a poor defense, but, nonetheless, game changing.

  9. So happy that I watched most of last nights game; so much better than the one they played in LA. Looking forward to the Cup Game next week.
    So often the fans have been smarter than Curtin…

  10. Went from super pissed off to super happy in minutes.

    Any reason why Accam can’t play as a striker?

    • Elephant 'Popcorn' Jawn says:

      Yea yea yea. Threw my phone across the room in the 94 minute when Chicago scored, then scrambled to put it back to together in the 95 minute after the Accam Jawn. STILL locked out of my TwitterBook jawns because of the roller coaster ending. (Phone auto logged me into accounts etc. Phone is in pieces)

      A couple of points:

      Not sure WHY we were still playing in the 95 minute after Chi tied it up? Why not be happy with the Tie?

      Why was Accam pressing to score in the 95 min? Why not be happy with the tie and the money he is making?

      Burke’s yellow in the first 10 mins, does that effect his startablilty? Is he a risky play?
      Can You contrast Sapong’s ability to draw a foul and Burke’s ability TO foul?

  11. One highlight of the Chicago game was after Burke’s Second goal when the field mics picked up the Chicago keeper laying on the ground after his error saying “How the f&$@ does that happen??”

    He had an awful game…

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