Match previews / Union

Match preview: Chicago Fire vs. Philadelphia Union

Photo courtesy of Major League Soccer

Who: Philadelphia Union (2021: 5-2-3, 18 points, 3rd place in the East) vs. Chicago Fire (1-7-1, 4 points, 14th place in the East)

What: 2021 MLS Regular Season

Where: Soldier Field, Chicago, IL

When: Saturday, June 26th; 8:08pm Kickoff (Eastern)

Watch: PHL17, ESPN+

Whistle: Not available at time of publication

 

The Union head to the windy city on Saturday to face off against MLS bottom dwellers Chicago Fire.  This match marks the end of a busy stretch during which the Union will have played three games in seven days.

The narratives could not be any different for these two clubs.  The Union are playing some of the best soccer in MLS at the moment; unbeaten in their last seven MLS matches (5-0-2) and coming off an impressive 1-0 home victory on Wednesday night against the reigning MLS Cup Champions, Columbus Crew.

Chicago, on the other hand, have just one win on the season through nine games.  They are currently in the midst of a three match losing streak in which they’ve been shut-out entirely. The most recent loss was a 1-0 result against, at the time, second to last place FC Cincinnati.

Scouting Report: Chicago Fire

Nothing is working for the Fire at the moment and it’s a shame. With the Chicago Bears flirting with a move to the suburbs, now is an opportune time for this club to return to their winning ways at Solider Field and get the city of Chicago behind them. The club lacks vision to accomplish this feat.

They also lack goal-scoring. At the onset of the season, the Fire’s inability to keep the ball out of their own net seemed to be their biggest challenge. But with only four goals scored in 2021 (including being shut out in six of nine games), it’s clear that their problems aren’t exclusive defending.

With forward Robert Beric and midfielders Luka Stojanovic and Alvaro Medran, the Fire have the talent to score goals. In fact, they had a total of 19 shots during Wednesday night’s 1-0 loss to FC Cincinnati. However only two of them were on target, signifying that this team isn’t generating quality chances.

If they’re to come away from this match with points and end their losing streak, they’ll need guys like central midfielder Fabian Herbers, who is closing in on 100 MLS matches, to step up and start generating chances and help facilitate the ball to Beric up front. Meanwhile captain and Costa Rican international Francisco Calvo will need to hold down the Chicago back line.

Injury Report

Out: Stanislav Ivanov (knee), Kenneth Kronholm (knee),

Questionable: Wyatt Omsber (hip)

International Duty

Gaston Gimenez (Paraguay), Przemyslaw Frankowski (Poland),

Scouting Report: Philadelphia Union

The Union exerted a lot of effort on Wednesday night to see off the Crew and hold on to their 1-0 lead.  They conceded 61% possession (most of if in the second half), which isn’t anything out of the ordinary for this team. However, with their match on Saturday being their third in seven days, head coach Jim Curtin will have some tired legs to deal with come Saturday. Fatigue already seemed to come into play during Wednesday night’s match with Corey Burke and Oliver Mbaizo both being subbed off with what appeared to be cramping.

Ale Bedoya was also subbed off as he was clearly struggling to get up and down the field in the second half. Keep an eye on his status leading up to Saturday’s match as he appeared to be dealing with more than just cramping.

The Union will again be without Jose Martinez, who is still away on international duty with Venezuela.

Nothing official has been released regarding Anthony Fontana’s availability, but having sustained a concussion during Sunday’s game against Atlanta, it’s highly unlikely he’ll be available for Saturday.

Jim Curtin spoke ahead of Wednesday’s match regarding Daniel Gazdag’s knee injury, stating that there was no structural damage and that he should be out for another week tops, which suggests that he may not be quite where he needs to to be available on Saturday.

With Fontana out, Union homegrown Jack McGlynn got the start on the left side of the diamond on Wednesday, with Monteiro featured as the No. 10. It’s very possible we’ll see the same on Saturday. However, if Bedoya is unavailable or if he starts on the bench, Jim Curtin will need to do some further shifting of the midfield. Homegrown Quinn Sullivan came on in place of Bedoya late in the second half on Wednesday, so he is option to start (which would be an incredible feat, to see two Union homegrowns start on both sides of the diamond).

We’ve also seen Curtin play Jack Elliot at the No. 6, which would would allow Flach to move up to the shuttler position he was originally playing at the start of the season. Although, Elliot did just get named to the MLS team of the week for his strong outing at center back against Columbus, so taking him out of his primary position may not be Curtin’s first choice.

Injury Report

Out: Ilsinho (groin), de Vries (concussion),

Questionable: Fontana (concussion), Gazdag (knee)

International Duty

Jose Martinez (Venezuela)

Key Match-up: Chicago Defense against Union press

The Fire defense is going to need to put in a class performance against the high-pressing Union if they’re to come away with points in this match.

Players to Watch:  Kacper Przybylko

Striker Muffin has a great opportunity to find the back of the net in this one, perhaps even a brace.

Prediction: Philadelphia Union 3 – 1 Chicago Fire

The Union just shut-out the reigning MLS Cup champs. There’s no reason to believe they won’t take care of business against the last place fire.

5 Comments

  1. Andy Muenz says:

    Don’t think I agree with the prediction, specifically a Chicago team that has been shut out in 3 straight games should not be able to score against the Union.
    .
    The real question is whether the Union can get an early goal in which case they should be able to blow the doors wide open or if they struggle to break down a bunkered Fire team in which case they’ll need to score late or risk a 0-0 draw.

    • I agree with this comment. I expect Coach to start the same XI as Wednesday. I expect Chicago to play for a single point, with ten men behind the ball. As the match wears on, I expect to see the U sending eight men forward. 0-1 at the final whistle

    • I agree that this could be a trap game. I think a 1-0 win with a scrappy goal by Pryzbylko or Elliott off a corner kick sounds more likely.

  2. Injury Updates:

    1. Ilsinho is no longer listed on the injury report per the Union game notes,
    2. Bedoya is officially listed as ‘Questionable’
    3. Fontana is confirmed ‘Out’

  3. Andy Muenz says:

    Looks like significant squad rotation with Ale not in the lineup and Kacper and Mbaizo on the bench.

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