Match previews / Union

Match Preview: Chicago Fire vs Philadelphia Union

Photo: Marjorie Elzey

Who: Chicago Fire vs Philadelphia Union

What: MLS Match Week 4

Where: Soldier Field, Chicago, Illinois

When: Saturday, May 8th at 1:00 p.m. Eastern

Watch: 6abc, stream at PhiladelphiaUnion.com

Whistle: TBD

After balancing both MLS and Concacaf Champions League matches over the last four weeks, the Philadelphia Union now give their undivided attention to domestic competition over the next three months. The journey starts this Saturday when the team travel to Solider Field to take on the Chicago Fire. Both sides enter the match still in search of their first win in league play, having secured just 1 point via draws in Week 1, followed by subsequent loses in Weeks 2 and 3.

Scouting Report: Chicago Fire

The Fire entered the 2021 MLS Season having not qualified for the MLS Cup Playoffs since 2017 (they finished 3rd in the East that year). Since they started the year 0-1-2 (1 pt, 13th in the Eastern Conference), any optimism that this will be the end of their playoff-less skid may be starting to wane. However, it’s still incredibly early in the MLS season and year after year teams make the MLS Playoffs after slow starts to the season.

The Fire certainly have the weapons to stay in games offensively, with the likes of Robert Beric (F) and Luka Stojanovic (CM), both of whom found the back of the net in their season opening, 2-2 draw against New England.  On the other side of the ball, the defense will need to focus in order to give themselves the opportunity to stay in games and grind out results: the Fire are conceding 2.3 goals per game.

Injury Report: OUT: Ignacia Aliseda (Thigh), M Zarate (Ankle), Fabian Herbers (Knee) QUESTIONABLE: Elliot Collier (Ankle)

Scouting Report: Philadelphia Union

The Union also enter this match with a 0-1-2 record (1 pt, 12th in the Eastern Conference). The narrative is much different however, given their primary focus these last few weeks has been advancing in the Concacaf Champions League (which they accomplished on Tuesday night by advancing to the semifinals with a 4-1 aggregate win over Atlanta United). Despite their slow start to the MLS season, Union players, coaches and fans alike should consider their start to the 2021 soccer calendar a success.

In league play, the Union certainly have areas to improve upon. The most obvious concern continues to be their ability, or lack thereof, to score goals.  This was not the case during their four CCL matches, where they averaged 2.25 goals per game and Kacper Przybylko found the net five times. But through their first three MLS games, they are averaging just .33 goals per game. They’ve shown they have the quality offensively to consistently work the ball into the final third, but they have not been clinical in their efforts in and around the box. They’ll have the chance to do change that against a struggling Chicago defense.

Injury Report: OUT: Jack de Vries (Concussion), Ilsinho (Groin) QUESTIONABLE: Stuart Findlay (Quad)

Suspension Report: Jose Martinez (Red Card – May 1st v NYCFC)

Key Matchup: Beric vs Union center-backs

Jack Elliot and Jakob Glesnes will need to contain Robert Beric, who is one of the best true forwards in MLS right now. Elliot and Glesnes haven’t been perfect this year, but they’ve proven to be a formidable center-back duo. This will be a good test for them against a proven MLS goal-scorer.

Player(s) to Watch: Union Forwards

The Fire gave up 2 goals to the Red Bulls last week, 3 goals to Atlanta in Week 2, and 2 goals to New England in Week 1. This game is the perfect chance for any of the Union forwards to net their first goal in MLS this season.

Prediction Chicago Fire 1 – 2 Philadelphia Union

The Union are at a disadvantage after coming off of another short week, but the Fire are struggling and the Union should seize this opportunity to get their first MLS win this year.

3 Comments

  1. Man, they better win. Capitalizing on a weak opponent after a big CCL advancement to keep the ball rolling in MLS is huge.

    Because while their CCL deserves praise, it’s a long time till the next CCL game so if they continue to flounder in MLS things will turn negative quick.

  2. Tim Jones says:

    The quote from Jim Curtin on the club website in Pressing Points gently says Stuart Findlay won’t be available tomorrow, since he references “next week’. And the Union’s own game guide lists Findlay under “Out.”
    .
    Union 2 are away at roughly the same time on Saturday down in northern Virginia against Loudoun United, so at least some of the homegrowns will be getting their game minutes there.
    .
    Curtin kept Cole Turner, Jack McGlynn, and Quinn Sullivan Tuesday against Atlanta, so probably they have gone to Chicago. Jack de Vries is still in the concussion protocol.
    .
    He gets two more bench slots for MLS games than he does for the Concacaf Champions League. We will find out whether he fills them tomorrow night. My guess is not, since Matt Real can fill-in at right back in an emergency, and the three listed above are all midfielders. Cory Burke is the striker sub.

  3. 3 game suspension for El brujo…

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