Match previews / Union

Match preview: Chicago Fire vs Philadelphia Union

Photo: Marjorie Elzey

Who: Chicago Fire vs. Philadelphia Union

What: MLS Regular Season

Where: Solider Field, Chicago, Illinois

When: Wednesday, June 29, 8:00 p.m.

Watch: PHL17, ESPN+, Philadelphiaunion.com

Whistle: Not available at publication

A midweek matchup in the Windy City brings two teams with differing fortunes as of late. Visiting Philadelphia comes in riding a nine-game unbeaten streak, which does include many draws, while Chicago looks to get back to winning ways on their home field, having just one win in their last 11 games.

Familiar faces will be abound between these two teams, as Philadelphia’s leading scorer last season, Kacper Przybylko, now suits up for Chicago alongside another former Union man, Fabian Herbers. The last three meetings between these two teams have seen Philadelphia come away with a win and the rest ending in draws.

Scouting Report: Chicago Fire

Chicago got off to a hot start to their 2022 campaign, fueled with optimism with a new coach, a promising young goalkeeper in Gaga Slonina, and new attacking additions such as Przybylko and new man Xherdan Shaqiri. A four-game unbeaten streak to start the year proved that optimism can turn into results.

But since the start of April things have taken a drastic turn for the Fire. A 10 game winless streak was broken just two weeks ago with a win over D.C. United, then followed with defeat against Houston this past weekend.

Despite not collecting many wins on the year, Chicago has been able to score in bunches in recent games. They drew Red Bull while scoring three goals, and fell to Toronto while still scoring two goals. Their problem, much like Philadelphia, is getting a second goal, and in most cases just the first goal. Chicago was hopeful Shaquiri would solve their scoring problems, but the star attacker has missed the last four games due to injury.

Ironically, Chicago’s last two goals have come from both former Union players with Przybylko and Herbers tallying last. Przybylko will be the man to watch up top, as he leads the Fire with three goals on year.

In the middle is another new man in Chris Mueller, with the former Orlando City player returning from the Scottish Premier League to provide more attacking width for the Fire. Homegrown Brian Gutierrez has also seen increased playing time in the middle of the field alongside Mueller. Protecting the backline is Argentine DP Gaston Gimenez, who looks to break through lines and cover ground.

In the back Chicago sports a back four of Jonathan Bornstein on the left, Rafael Czichos and Carlos Teran in the middle and Boris Sekulic on the right. The defensive group will be looking for a better showing than in recent games, only keeping 1 clean sheet in their last 9 games. In net is young superstar Gaga Slonina, who has made several saves to keep the Fire in games and showing why he has suitors in Europe.

Injury Report: Out: Chris Brady, Kendall Burks, Miguel Navarro, Wyatt Omsberg, Mauricio Pineda, Jairo Torres; Questionable: Federico Navarro

Suspension Report:  None

Scouting report: Philadelphia Union

Despite running through a current nine-game unbeaten streak, Philadelphia has only claimed two wins in those games, while playing to a draw seven times. Much like Chicago, Philadelphia has struggled to find a second goal to win a game, settling for scorelines of 1-1 for the majority of matches. Mikael Uhre and Julian Carranza while be looking to change that up top for Philly, as the two DP attackers have gotten more playing time together and are building chemistry. Daniel Gazdag will be looking to re-ignite his hot start to the season as the Hungarian will most likely be leading the attack from the midfield.

Behind Gazdag on his left will be Leon Flach, with the German-American showing more willingness to join attacking sequences in recent weeks. The ageless Alejandro Bedoya will be on the right side, after scoring against Cincinnati and putting in a strong shift against NYCFC. At the base of the diamond is Jose Martinez, who has been one of the best defensive midfielders in the league for a majority of the year. Philadelphia will be a little short on the bench, as Homegrowns Paxten Aaronson, Quinn Sullivan, Jack McGlynn and Brandan Craig are all away on international duty. Sergio Santos has also been away from the team trying to resolve visa issues.

The stalwart backline of Kai Wagner, Jack Elliott, Jacob Glesnes and Nathan Harriel should be kept together for this match. They kept NYC FC at bay for the majority of the match last weekend, with the only goal coming from a penalty. In net is all-star Andre Blake, with the Jamaican building another case to for Goalkeeper of the Year this season.

Injury Report: Questionable: Jesus Bueno

Suspension Report:  None

Key Matchup: Attacking Play

Both of these teams struggle to fill the net with goals, but luckily for Philadelphia they’re facing a Chicago side who hasn’t been much better in front of their own net. Can the Philadelphia attack jump-start on a weakened back line, or will Przybylko be hungry to prove his former employer wrong and bag a brace of his own?

Player to Watch: Mikael Uhre

After coming back into fitness, Uhre has notched two goals in the past three games. Both of them may have been a bit lucky, but the striker has shown he can get into good spots to finish off attacks. Philadelphia will need him to be productive if they want their unbeaten run to continue.

Prediction:  Chicago 0-1 Philadelphia 

Philadelphia keeps the streak alive off an Alejandro Bedoya goal while Chicago still struggles to find the back of the net.

Odds
Philadelphia = +210
Chicago = +110
Draw = +230

9 Comments

  1. Andy Muenz says:

    Suspension report none? Paul Rushing got 2 games!

  2. This would be a GREAT game to give Bueno or Real a half and rest Bedoya.
    Let him come on for 2nd half only if necessary.
    Know that we don’t have the fab4 but Chicago is in last place.

    • This is my one remaining gripe with Curtin’s management. Don’t run players into the ground when you don’t have to. Nothing wrong with saving Bedoya to come in for the last 30 if you think he can make an impact or change the game when you need to.

    • Deez Nuggs says:

      For a player like Bueno who seemed solid last year, I’m not sure why we aren’t seeing him. But the article lists him as questionable so I guess don’t hold my breath.

      • HopkinsMD says:

        I trust Curtin’s assessment based on everything that takes place between matches, but it is a bit of a bummer considering he captained his team before coming here.

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