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Match preview: Philadelphia Union vs Chicago Fire

Photo: Marjorie Elzey

Who: Philadelphia Union (12-3-5, 41 points) vs. Chicago Fire FC (5-8-6, 21 points)

What: 2020 MLS Regular Season 

Where: Subaru Park, Chester, PA

When:  October 28, 2020 at 7:30 PM (Eastern)

Watch: PHL 17

Whistle: Referee: Guido Gonzales, Assistant Referees: C.J. Morgante, Eric Weisbrod, 4th Official: Natalie Simon. VAR: Younes Marrakchi 

Be afraid not of greatness!

The superlatives are flying following the Union’s dismantling of Toronto FC on Saturday. And rightfully so, as it was perhaps the best game the Union have played in their decade-plus long history. The fact that it came in such a big game makes it taste that much sweeter. 

But there is no time to celebrate as the Chicago Fire come into town for a Wednesday night matchup.  

The Union come into this game to defend their spot at the top of the MLS table. Unless Chicago is able to work its way above the playoff cutoff line — they are currently below Inter Miami by virtue of goal differential for the final spot — this will be the only time the two teams meet in this truncated season.

Scouting Report: Chicago 

The Fire are a different team than the last time the Union saw them.  They have a new coach in former Swiss international Raphael Wicky and Retirement League standout Bastian Schweinsteiger has since retired. But some things remain the same — they are stuck towards the bottom of the table.  There have been flashes of quality at times but overall they are a team in transition. 

Chicago mostly runs in a 4-2-3-1 with a free-flowing style.  Working a double pivot using prototypical Spanish midfielder Alvaro Medran and DP Gaston Gimenez, they get possession and move forward quickly trying to break through the lines and get the ball to the attacking midfielders.  Typically, former Union midfielder Fabian Herbers works the middle with DP Igancio Aliseda and Prezemyslaw Frankowski on the left and right respectively.  The Fire have a talented group of midfielders which often includes old friend C.J. Sapong – who may or may not make an appearance due to family matters.  Their best player is forward Robert Beric. The lanky Slovenian leads the team with nine goals, is an active presser, and is strong in hold-up play.

Right wingback Boris Sekulic will stay with the backline, but once the ball goes through the initial press, he will move forward up the right side to create overloads on that right side of the field. This allows him to make runs into the box but also leaves Chicago vulnerable at the back.  The Fire will trap press using Beric to double up by the touch line so it is incumbent upon opponents to move the ball quickly out of the back.

Injury Report:   Out: Kenneth Kronholm (gk); Luca Stojanovich (m); Wyatt Omsberg (d); Brandt Bronico (m); Johan Kappelhof (d)

Scouting report: Union

The Union finally got everyone back on Saturday and it showed. They will be able to field the same team against the Fire, except for Jamiro Montiero who will miss his first game of the season due to yellow card accumulation. While it is a shame to miss Monteiro, especially following his best game of the season, the good news is that this allows some minutes for Anthony Fontana who has had the hot hand lately.  The only other possibly foreseeable lineup change is a rotation in the back line with Jack Elliot stepping in for either Mark McKenzie or Jakob Glesnes.

As Chicago likes to bring players forward there should be ample opportunity to go over the top or quickly down the channels. MLS Player of the Week Sergio Santos could have himself another big game. As mentioned, it is also important that Philadelphia move the ball quickly and confidently out of the back and not succumb to the press and give up a cheap goal.

If the Union can play half as well as they did on Saturday they should easily dispatch the Fire.  With just two matches following this one and a tough one on Sunday at Columbus, a lead and a chance to get some rest for the starters would be huge.

Injury Report: Out: Matt Real (d); Questionable: Warren Creavalle (m)

Suspended: Jamiro Monteiro (m) – Yellow Card Accumulation

Key Matchup:  Santos vs Fire Backline

There should be some over the top opportunities for the Union and Santos will be riding high with confidence after his hat trick.  Chicago will have their hands full.

Player to Watch: Kacper Przybyłko

Przybylko has been on this list for three games running now. He does a lot of the things you would want from a striker: Work hard on the press, hustle back on defense, generate  assists, create space for other players, etc. He did enough of that ancillary stuff to earn himself a place on the MLS Team of the Week bench. What he hasn’t done lately is score goals — and has missed on some quality opportunities. He is historically a streaky player and is due to turn it around.  Having Przybylko and Santos both in good form is a scary proposition for any opposing team.

Prediction:  Philadelphia 3-1 Chicago

The Union should be able to put the Fire away relatively easily.  But there is always the fear of the dreaded “Trap Game.”


Philadelphia Union:  -125

Chicago Fire:           +320

Draw +250

For you degenerate gamblers… Can’t argue with that.



  1. Union had a player test positive for the novel coronavirus, not sure who, but the game is to go on as scheduled.

    If someone is inexplicably missing from the lineup, that’s why.

  2. El Brujo is not on the match day roster……..shit. I wish him a speedy recovery if it in fact him. The international breaks have done nothing but take these guys out of their club bubbles and expose them. It’s bullshit.

    • Though the same thing at first but he’s been back to long. Must have been exposed here.

      • Has he been back longer than two weeks? I’ve heard of people coming down with this from three days to three weeks after exposure……….

    • Though the same thing at first but he’s been back too long. Must have been exposed here.

      Hope it stays limited to the one player but it would be soooooo Union to crash at the end of yet another season.

  3. Well, Chitown brought out the blades tonight….and we are being way too nice. Could use a Martinez in a match like this…………

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