Match previews / Union

Match preview: Chicago Fire vs Philadelphia Union

Photo: Marjorie Elzey

Who: Chicago Fire (6th in the East, 2-1-3) vs Philadelphia Union (10th in the East, 2-4-1)

What: MLS Regular Season, Matchday 8

Where: Soldier Field, Chicago, IL

When: Saturday, April 15th, 8:30PM EDT

Watch: Apple TV (MLS Season Pass)

Whistle: Ismail Elfath; Logan Brown, Adam Garner; Walt Heatherly; Alejandro Mariscal, Mike Kampmeinert

The Philadelphia Union travel to the windy city on Saturday to take on the Chicago Fire in MLS Matchday 8.

The Union won by the narrowest of margins when the Fire visited Chester just over a month ago by means of a 90th minute winner by Joaquin Torres to give the Union a 1-0 victory.

The stage will now shift to Chicago, where the Union have managed just two wins in their last 11 visits dating back to 2014 (2 wins, 6 losses, 3 draws).

Philadelphia holds the edge against Chicago all-time with 16 wins, 7 draws and 10 losses.

Scouting Report: Chicago Fire

Despite a bit of a slow start out of the gates (zero wins in their first three matches), the Fire have found some stability as of late.  Last week’s 2-1 victory over Minnesota (the Loons first loss of year) took them to nine points through six matches this year.

Forward Kei Kamara scored both goals in that match against Minnesota.  Those goals were his 91st and 92nd goals in home matches in his MLS career.  He now has scored more goals in home matches than any other player in MLS history, having surpassed Chris Wondolowki’s 91 home goal tally.  This match against Philadelphia is *checks notes* at home for the Fire, so Kamara will certainly be a player to keep an eye on.

Interestingly enough, the Fire’s current 4 game unbeaten streak (2-0-2) has come to fruition without their star DP Xherdan Shaqiri, who has been sidelined with an upper leg injury.  He is listed as questionable for this Saturday’s match.

With Shaqiri sidelined, the Fire have been getting contributions this year from the likes of winger Chris Mueller (2 Goals), defender Rafael Czichos (1 goal) and ex-Union forward Kacper Przybylko (1 goal, 1 assist).

In his second year with the team, head coach Ezra Hendrickson has the Fire playing soccer that has been enjoyable to watch, which has been a rare sight over the past few years.  Hendrickson has been deploying a 4-2-3-1, with ex-Union man Fabian Herbers and Gaston Gimenez operating the double-pivot which allows for outside backs Arnaud Souquet and Miguel Angel Navarro to get forward.

Injury Report: Jairo Torres (OUT), Victor Bezerra (OUT), Federica Navarro (OUT), Xherdan Shaqiri (QUESTIONABLE)

Scouting Report: Philadelphia Union

The Union are coming off their best performance of the year, a 2-2 draw against Liga MX side Atlas F.C. in the Concacaf Champions League which sent them through to the semi-finals with a 3-2 aggregate win.

The focus now shifts back to MLS play, where the Union have collected just one point in their last four matches (1 draw, 3 losses).  That four-match span is the Union’s worst in a single season since March-April of 2018.

It’s also worth noting that the Union have lost their weekend match following each of their previous two Champions League matches.  Prior to that, the Union had played the weekend following a Champions League match six times and lost just once (4 wins, 1 Draw, 1 Loss).

Again though, Wednesday’s match against Atlas was the Union’s best thus far in 2023, and head coach Jim Curtin will look to build off that momentum heading into the weekend. However, earning a result coming off just two days rest and staying on the road  will be no easy task.

Curtin deployed his strongest starting eleven on Wednesday in what was a high octane environment, so it would not come as a surprise if he elects to change his starting eleven come Saturday to put forth fresh legs to start the match.

Additionally, outside back Kai Wagner appeared to reaggravate his hamstring injury late in the first half on Wednesday and is questionable for Saturday.

Injury Report: Kai Wagner (QUESTIONABLE)

Matchup to Watch: Kai Kamara vs Union centerbacks

Both Union centerbacks Jakob Glesnes and Jack Elliot put in solid defensive performances on Wednesday, but their form in MLS has been less than stellar.  With the aforementioned Kai Kamara finding success this year at home, he’ll need to be closely marked if he’s to stay off the score-sheet.

Player to Watch: Leon Flach

Flach had his best game of the year Wednesday coming off the bench in the 64th minute.  He started the scoring sequence on Carranza’s second goal with a great pass catching Atlas out of position and he was composed defensively while the Union saw the game out.  He should get the start on Saturday and will look to build off his strong performance.

Prediction: Chicago 1 – 1 Union

Perhaps the Union can ride the high of Wednesday’s win and steal three points on the road, but coming off of short rest and Chicago playing well, a point on the road would be a solid result.


  1. I wonder how many goals Kamara has against the Union. He always seems to kill us.

    • santo bevacqua says:

      Yes Kamara will be a killer, Blake will save us from him! Uhre on the other hand will break out and offset scoring from the Fire. The Union are now in a different frame of mind, zone if you wii due to the success with Champions. DOOP DOOP

  2. With Kai out and an expected rotated line-up, would love to see a 3CDs with Lowe spending the game marking Kamara.

  3. Andy Muenz says:

    It’s a shame that MLS Next rules don’t apply or Herbers and Kamara would be out Saturday for the red cards from the last time the two teams met.
    I know Kamara used to kill the Union, but I think it’s been a few years since he’s really hurt them.
    My guess is that Donovan gets another shot up top with Uhre going the full 90 on Wednesday and Carranza going more than 80 minutes.

  4. Think we get a Craig and/or Sullivan start with the backline injuries and Uhre going 90?

  5. FCDelco dude says:

    Whatever about the “champions league” thing. Union need to start winning games!

  6. Union don’t play again for a week. I don’t expect all that much rotation.

  7. Andy Muenz says:

    Looks like it’s limited squad rotation tonight, just the outside backs. The starting lineup on the team website has Harriel and Real starting, but Real is also listed on the bench (with no Mbaizo or Wagner available).

    • Andy Muenz says:

      Looks like I should have scrolled down to the picture (rather than reading the text). That’s showing Mbaizo starting rather than Real.

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