Match previews

Match preview: Chicago Fire vs. Philadelphia Union

Photo: 215pix

Who: Philadelphia Union (1st place in the Eastern Conference, 45 points, 13-6-7) vs. Chicago Fire (10th place in the Eastern Conference, 30 points, 7-9-11)
What: 2019 regular season game
Where: SeatGeek Stadium, Bridgeview, Ill.
When: Saturday, August 17 at 8 p.m. Eastern
Watch: TVA Sports, PHL 17, ESPN+
Whistle: Referee: Joseph Dickerson. AR1: Brian Dunn; AR2 : TJ Zablocki; 4th: David Gantar; VAR: Younes Marrakchi

The Philadelphia Union have won two straight after netting a late winner in a 2-1 victory over the Houston Dynamo at home. The team will look to add to their winning streak against tenth-place Chicago in an Eastern Conference matchup this Sunday.

After a couple of shaky performances after the Gold Cup break, the Union are beginning to clean up their act before a very tough streak of games heading into the playoffs. Every point is important if the Union want to keep their grip on the top seed and a home playoff game, so this should be treated as a must-win considering the difficulty of opponents with the remaining games.

The Union picked up all three points in the first contest between the teams, winning 2-0 at Talen Energy Stadium in late July.

Scouting report: Chicago Fire

The Chicago Fire are coming off a midweek 3-2 loss on the road against the Portland Timbers. While Nemanja Nikolic and C.J. Sapong added to their goal tallies, it wasn’t enough to surpass the Timbers. Nikolic has scored in his third consecutive game, with nine goals on the season and Sapong netted his 10th of the season, though it was his first since July 17th.

Sapong has hit double-digit goals for the second time in his career, with the only other time being with the Union in 2017 where he scored 16 goals.

Przemyslaw Frankowski also collected his sixth assist of the season last game. He is second on the team with assists to Nicolas Gaitan, who has nine. Both players have proven to be dangerous playmakers in Chicago’s attacking system.

Aleksandar Katai picked up a red card in the Timbers match, so he will not be featuring this weekend for Chicago. It’s not a huge loss due to the Fire’s attacking depth, but he is still their third highest goalscorer on the season.

Chicago likes to play a very attacking style of play. They have 40 goals on the season, only eight fewer than the Union; however, they are bit less stable in the back. The Fire have conceded 40 goals this season. They are expected to come out at home and continue to try and attack and break down Philadelphia’s defense, but it will be a bit more difficult coming off of a mid-week road match.

  • Injury report: M – Fabian Herbers (shoulder injury).
  • Suspended: Aleksandar Katai
Scouting report: Philadelphia Union

The Philadelphia Union are beginning to look like the team we got used to seeing before the Gold Cup break. With no suspension or injuries, the entire roster will be available for selection for what seems like the first time in a long time.

Expect to see the same lineup as last match against Houston, with the exception of a swap of Warren Creavalle out and Jamiro Monteiro in. Aurelien Collin replaced Auston Trusty on defense, and manager Jim Curtin confirmed that Trusty and Mark McKenzie are now competing for the bench spot. Collin has been solid in his performances thus far, and a veteran MLS Cup winner can really help down this last stretch of games when challenging for first place in the Eastern Conference and attempting a deep run in MLS playoffs.

Haris Medunjanin recorded his ninth assist of the season, with four assists over the last four games. He is one of — if not the best — passers on the team. The new system implemented by Curtin and some new additions by Ernst Tanner have allowed Medunjanin to have a more free role and focus on attacking. The big man can also be seen pressing pretty high up the field, which is a new one for Union fans to see this season compared to past seasons.

Kacper Przybylko and Jack Elliott both netted goals in the victory over Houston. With his late winner and stellar performance, Elliott also landed in the MLS team of the week. The couple will look to put in similar performances against Chicago. Marco Fabian is also getting back into the swing of things with a strong run of games recently. He is getting more and more involved throughout the game and it is making the attack lethal and dynamic.

  • Injury report: None
  • Suspended: None
Key matchup

C.J. Sapong vs Kacper Przybylko

Sapong has hit double digits for the second time in his career, while Przybylko has 11 in his first MLS season. The game will be a very attacking one, so while the defense will play a huge part, the strikers will need to capitalize on their opportunities.

Player to watch

Marco Fabian. Against D.C. United two games ago he drove the offense to a five-goal performance. With Jamiro Montiero likely back in the lineup, he should have the freedom to focus on playmaking, without worrying too much about whats going on behind him.

Prediction: Chicago 1-3 Philadelphia

While Chicago has scored a lot of goals this season, they have also proven to be loose in the back at times. With the hosts having tired legs from a mid-week road match, I think the Union will have the advantage. The Union are also getting Monteiro back into the lineup and Andrew Wooten is hungry for his first goal with his new club. Ilsinho is still a cheat code when coming from the bench, so tired legs will play even more of a part in the second half when he is subbed on.

Philadelphia will continue their winning streak in a nice fashion.

2 Comments

  1. Game takes place on Saturday; not Sunday.
    .
    Would be good game to watch if it finishes 2-3 (win for us).

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