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Match report: Chicago Fire 1-0 Philadelphia Union

Photo: Marjorie Elzey

Federico Navarro scored the only goal of the game as Chicago Fire defeated an undermanned Philadelphia Union 1-0 on Wednesday night at Soldier Field.

Jim Curtin named an unchanged lineup from the victory against NYC FC on Sunday. Philadelphia were again without the services of Paxten Aaronson, Quinn Sullivan, Jack McGlynn (away with the USA U-20s), and Sergio Santos (visa issue).

The first half played out with few chances for either team. Chicago had the better of the play with DP Xherdan Shaqiri dictating play for the home side.

Cory Burke and Olivier Mbaizo entered at halftime for Julian Carranza and Nathan Harriel respectively. Burke came within inches of scoring in the 47th minute when his powerful header met Kai Wagner’s cross, but Gabriel Slonina did well to push the ball off the post and then smother the rebound.

Chicago would take the lead in the 67th minute through Navarro. Chris Mueller turned Kai Wagner inside out down the Chicago right, nutmegging the defender before firing in a cross. Jose Martinez failed to control Boris Sekulic on the ball and Sekulic rolled a pass into the path of Navarro, whose shot deflected off the foot of Alejandro Bedoya and past Andre Blake from 20 yards.

Jose Martinez was shown a second yellow card in the 72nd minute for dragging back Kacper Przybylko, reducing the Union to 10 men. Martinez seemed to gesticulate toward the Chicago fans and perhaps pull his pants down as he walked off the field. Shortly afterwards, Przybylko rang a header off the crossbar from just inside the six-yard box.

The Union threw on Chris Donovan to search for an equalizer, but few chances arrived for the visitors.

Philadelphia is next in action when they travel to Columbus on Sunday to face the Crew (7:30 p.m.)

Three Points
  • Tired. Philadelphia looked tired after playing Sunday against NYCFC and away to Chicago on Wednesday night. Unfortunate for Philadelphia that Aaronson, McGlynn, Sullivan, Santos, and Bueno were all missing.
  • Beaten. The Union’s nine match unbeaten streak came to an end with a loss to bottom club Chicago. It is just the second loss of the season for Philly.
  • Moving on. An undermanned side on two day’s rest was defeated in Chicago. Hard to read too much into it, but Philly will be grateful to get some reinforcements back soon.

Philadelphia Union

Andre Blake, Jack Elliott, Jakob Glesnes, Kai Wagner, Nathan Harriel (Olivier Mbaizo 46′), Julian Carranza, Jose Martinez, Alejandro Bedoya, Leon Flach, Daniel Gazdag, Julian Carranza (Cory Burke 46′), Mikkel Uhre (Chris Donovan 66′)
Unused subs: Matt Freese, Joe Bendik, Stuart Findlay, Matt Real, Cole Turner

Chicago Fire

Gabriel Slonina, Rafael Czichos, Carlos Teran , Andre Reynolds (Jonathan Bornstein 65′), Boris Sekulic, Xherdan Shaqiri, Gaston Gimenez, Federico Navarro, Kacper Przybylko, Chris Mueller (Jhon Jairo Espinoza 86′), Fabian Herbers (Brian Gutierrez 65′)
Unused subs: Javier Casas, Victor Bezerra, Spencer Richey, Jhon Duran, Stanislav Ivanov, Chinonso Offor

Scoring Summary

CHI: Federico Navarro – 68′ (Sekulic)

Disciplinary Summary

PHI: Jose Martinez – 28′ (foul)
PHI: Alejandro Bedoya – 35′ (foul)
CHI: Carlos Teran – 51′ (foul)
PHI: Jose Martinez – 72′ (foul – second yellow)
PHI: Daniel Gazdag – 83′ (foul)


  1. Murphthesurf says:

    Union looked gassed after about 30 minutes tonight. Can’t get the kids back fast enough. Hang it up and see what tomorrow brings…

  2. Andy Muenz says:

    Obviously not happy with Martinez, especially since it will leave them shorthanded Sunday (although the first yellow seemed to be after Chicago players talked the ref into it), but this was a lot less frustrating than the points lost due to blown leads.
    If they give up one goal from outside the box every 50 games or so then so be it.

  3. Peanut Gallery says:

    I don’t understand many things. The list includes why not use your two remaining subs after the red? We will be short subs again on Sunday, plus without Martinez. Why risk two matches? Does Curtin not trust Real and Turner enough to let them see the pitch tonight.
    I’m just a dude. Help me, someone?

    • Andy Muenz says:

      At one goal down there is still a chance for a draw. Two goals down then it makes sense to put in the backups.

      • That was what I was thinking as well. The Union were playing to score and thought their best chance was with the players on the field. I do wonder if, and when, Turner and Real will develop enough to get their shots to play? Sometimes you need to put a player on the field who is inexperienced enough to play wutdahel soccer and see if their performance can create some magic. We don’t have Ilsinho any more and Curtin needs to find out if he has any subs who can bring that spark. Especially when we’re thin on the bench.
        Maybe throw on Findlay for M’baizo, move Kai to left midfield, Flach to D-mid, and Turner or Real on for Bedoya on the right. See if the Union can give up the overlapping runs from the outside backs and generate something with the midfield. Just an idea from someone else who knows nothing.

    • A big problem with the young guns out on international duty is there’s really no quality on the bench. Nothing to really spark a change of approach. Santos, too, would be a real boost to bring in at the 60th. Union are really lacking a plan B for when things aren’t going well. And they really didn’t go well tonight.

      • Any rumors of the Union scouting for bench strength in this window? Even some help from within MLS would be welcome and there has to be a few eligible players.

      • Andy Muenz says:

        I don’t think it’s a matter of scouting for bench strength so much as waiting for U-20’s to finish tomorrow or (hopefully) Sunday. And the Union players have really shown well scoring 10 of the team’s 22 goals (plus Sullivan drew the penalty kick that led to another). And Brandon Craig has taken the free kicks in the games he’s played.
        So once that tournament ends, they’ll have reinforcements that are playing better than they were when they left.

    • Fully agree with Andy Muenz’s analysis.
      Would add that Bedoya rotates back into the DM role well when Flach has to take over for Martinez and then gets caught out of position.
      And playing the system down a man is not something that either Real or Turner have done much at all.
      Final thought. without Aaronson and McGlynn there is no one to play attacking mid.
      P. S. If you think the first team played the match short-handed, POTENTIALLY, Union II v Crew 2 Saturday could turn out to be a lot worse. In the absolute worst case scenario they could have to play the match with a total of 11 players. Hopefully not.
      But the Union playing Bedoya Flach and Gazdag all for the full match on the third day, and U II playing before the Union not after might mean that only a goal keeper might come down from the Union to help, no field players.
      that is the worst case scenario. Only time will prove what will actually happen. Honduras, graduation, MLS NEXT Cup, and injuries are combining to create a real mess in the short term.
      I am reminded of the 1948 Boston Braves September pitching rotation: “Spahn, Sain, … and pray for rain!” A severe, prolonged lightning storm in Columbus Saturday night from 7 PM onward would come in handy.

    • Peanut Gallery says:

      Thank you all for taking the time to comment. Very helpful perspective. And Tim, that last paragraph… 🙂

  4. 1. Failure of front office to not have adequate/competent replacements for 4 (4!) guys at u20 concacaf champs. It was scheduled years in advance.

    2. Fucking Sugarman will sell those 4 guys Mcglynn, Sullivan, Paxton, and Craig for $ in his pocket before the Union ever win an MLS championship.

    3. Tanner sucks too, for reasons 1. & 2.

    4. Curtin sucks because he wont play or trust the other roster players. The same players who almost beat NYCFC (who won the damn championship) last year in the conference finals. Bueno looked good. Findlay looked good. But now we never see them and we never rest Bedoya or the CB’s or Gazdag or anyone.

    5. If this club had an ounce of ambition it would sign an actual soccer (futbol) player to play L-side midfielder. Compare Bedoya (who is washed up and was never that good a USMNT player anyway) to Flach. Flach provides NOTHING offensively or passing on the left. Bedoya score goals and has assists. Why not sign a DP midfielder so that the L side could be as productive as the R? I feel for Wagner. With whom is he supposed to connect? Every ball has to be a full-field switch or he has to dribble to the offensive end line himself.

    6. Our DP is Uhre?!? Holy shit. The guy is slow and just ok. Clearly not as good as CJ or Przybylko. (Don’t even mention Seba – the guy Sugarman traded – twice! Like the Dodgers trading Jackie Robinson.)

    7. LAFC signs Chiellini and Bale and we sign some guy who played for Drexel. Holy shit.

    8. Chris Mueller made our guys look like traffic cones but partly bc he was diving and embellishing all over the place and the center ref bought his bullshit. My new most hated player.

    9. Regards 2., Brendan Aaronson is playing in the EPL next year! And is a starter for USMNT! And Sugarman sold him before we won an MLS championship?!? And then didn’t reinvest the money?!? What the hell. We are some gullible ass fans.

    • John P. O'Donnell says:

      Those two losses for the season, you forgot them.

    • Agree with your arguments Ben . Iv’e been saying all season that the U need a skilled seasoned Left midfielder with attacking skills passing, dribbling, good decision making.

      Agree Flach is useless in this role. Zero offensive skills. I think McGlynn will eventually be that player in 2 years if he is still here. The Union need to acquire a seasoned left mid who can step in next week. They have the DP spot and money available now. Tanner has got to make the move ASAP or forget a deep playoff run.

      The Union are currently mostly a 2 dimensional offense.

      1 A counter attacking team that depends a perfect long ball over the top with a deft touch by Gazdag, Uhre, Caranza or Burke to finish after running down the field at full speed. It has not been very effective.

      2 A perfect cross by Wagner into the box followed by a header which is becoming predictable and defendable even when Kai lays it in perfectly.

    • Uhre worse than Sapong? And Tanner sucks? you are absolutely out of your mind. There is a kernel of truth to the midfield complaints and depth problems, but there isn’t a team in the world that can have 6 first team players missing for a 3 game week and not suffer, and “just sign 4 extra players to make up for youth national teams” isn’t a real solution

    • el Pachyderm says:

      Dear Ben.
      I appoint thee, The Resident Angriest M’Fer Here.
      I have officially been replaced…. and I am thankful.
      Feel free to read archived postgame analysis from the elephant in the room….circa…. 2015-2019.

    • Agreed!

      MLS will remain a mediocre league as long as it keeps selling off its best young payers to Europe and welcoming has-been retirees. Bale will love LA, like Ibra did, I guess, but enough already! This match was brutal to watch, as Chicago really sucks but won anyway. Mueller is an embodiment of the main reason why I prefer watching women’s soccer.

      I’ve been to two matches now and was struck by how they whisk you by the city of Chester and then whisk you back to the train. Very strange experience.

    • Jason Artermis says:

      Saying Uhre isn’t as good as CJ or Przlbylko is one of the worst takes I’ve ever seen. And to say he’s slow and then mention Kacper moments later is hilarious. He’s far from slow. Please watch a game or two and not just the highlights on, thanks.

      Then to say Tanner sucks is another bad take. He’s done more for this team in 3-4 years than any other Union staff member has done in the team’s history.

      Then to say Bedoya was never “that good a USMNT player”, your hattrick of terrible takes is complete. This just shows me you might only have started watching the sport a handful of years ago.

      Then let’s slip in your LAFC throating. LAFC is the richest team in the league. They used that money to get around MLS rules about salaries to sign those two as non-DPs. Relax.

  5. 10. Oh yeah and one other thing. Deprioritizing the Open Cup was idiotic. It’s a tournament just like MLS Cup. It gets you a champions league spot. (It doesn’t get you as much prize money, which is why Sugarman not so interested.) Even if the Union get to MLS cup final they’ll likely be playing LAFC or Seattle. Who’s going to be getting the calls in that game? Jordan Morris (going to World Cup probably), Garett Bale, Chiellini, Carlos Vela, Roldan (going to World Cup probably), Lodeiro? Or Uhre and Bedoya and Gazdag? Not the last 3 guys that’s for sure.

  6. Gruncle Bob says:

    Yes, the bench was short. But Zero starters were missing, and they played the line-up they have wanted all year. And that line-up just fucking SUCKED – from top to bottom. If they pulled that shit at a home game they would deserve to be booed out of the stadium, and I don’t especially like booing.
    Now let’s talk about short rest. A team called NYC also played Sunday – and scored 4 goals tonight. Another (LAFC) played Sunday and scored 3 tonight. The U got nothing against one of, if not the, shittiest team in the league. They weren’t tired, they just sucked.
    I may be overreacting, but what I saw was a team that struggled to score against a bad team. I saw a team that must play the blessed diamond regardless of the shit show on the field. I saw a team that other teams are figuring out. Yes it’s one game, but it’s a red flag warning to me.

  7. el Pachyderm says:

    Cannot defend that game. Offered in the Twitter verse it is the version of Union I imagine exsanguination being like.
    People are all upset. I get it. History has displayed me players need time in this league to get it together. Uhre. Carranza. It’ll come.
    My problem has and will always be the style. Fine give the other team the ball. Whatever. But when you get it for 4 seconds… how about taking care of it. The philosophy of play suffers with the poor decisions and technical skill. The team has been BRUTAL to watch more often then not lately.
    Thus comes full circle for me to…
    … Just Play Well.
    Otherwise… 17 games in and it only the second loss- ugly or not- there is value to that.
    Just Play Well.

    • Deez Nuggs says:

      For me. Teams lose sometimes. Check the league stats. It happens, and often you do it to yourself. I can’t say whether it was lack of rest or travel or missing backups for neigh on a month now… but only one team showed up. The other was slow, tired, spent… pick your adjective.
      It happens.
      Wash your hands of it and move on to the next.

  8. Sounds like they were expecting Santos back by now and Curtin even said that if he hadn’t had to surrender his passport for the green card application they would have just flown him back. Bueno not on the bench means he’s injured.
    Yes it hurts the first team some having 4 out at U20 but I’d argue that the minutes they are getting there are more valuable for the Union later this year and next than a game v Chicago or Columbus.

    • Yeah I definitely agree about the U-20 aspect…I can’t help but think Santos might have made a difference the last couple of games. We’re increasingly becoming too reliable on long passes and his speed is better equipped to handle those than Uhre and Carranza are.

  9. Just absolutely, unbelievably, systematically ridiculous… squarely on Curtin and his motivational skills and lack of a system for WINNING matches.

    WOW… Last place team, 62% possession… and THEN Martinez losing his mind again, for no good reason.

    And again, because the team was flat, use only 3 subs… Burke the only one who had an impact.

    Was Harriel injured? Love the way he and Flach are like heat seeking missles to get the ball!

    Very disappointed in this squad.

    The best team ON PAPER… ever… for the Union, but unless the “GEL” happens soon, other squads will eclipse us… and Curtin is the key.

    2 loses is an illusion… losses to TOR, CHI, far inferior squads… 8 ties are the reality.

    Ties are NOT OK… I misspoke previously.

    I can hear it already…. Section 114 gonna start chanting FIRE CURTIN again.

    • el Pachyderm says:

      …checks phone. team tied for first place at half way point. puts phone down. resumes eating eggs and Thomas’s English Muffin.
      pretty sure this is not a good time to fire up the “fire Curtin” comments which would only display a clear lack of critical thinking.
      He called it a trap game. It was a trap game. Sometimes you absolutely know the other team is throwing the heater and there is not a single damn thing you can do about it other than swing and hope for the best.
      Shitty game though. Phew. Brutal.

      • It was….
        But not because of Curtin?

        We have a “paper tiger”… and yet cannot motivate them to close out games?

        Trap, schmap…. It’s never worked, teams figure it out and dominate… defend against over the top.

        Only happy spot last night was watching Casper be Casper.

      • el Pachyderm says:

        Boy spot on there…I don’t miss Kacper P a tiny bit. Phew.

  10. Deez Nuggs says:

    I actually thought Burke added a spark of life and, god bless him, Mbaizo too. Team was slow from the off, and those two added a jolt of energy.

    • The best asset the union have is Curtin, he has cultivated the home growns and has shown promising results, management now has to sign players to complement this achievement. As Lalas said philly is a second market mentality and that rings true,. so open up the purse and get it done.

      • They never will. They want to win on the cheap. And that, friends, is why they call nights like last night a trap game.

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