Union match reports

Match report: Chicago Fire 2-2 Philadelphia Union

Photo: Marjorie Elzey

Two goals in four second-half minutes erased an early deficit and gave Philadelphia Union their first road point of the 2023 MLS season, a 2-2 draw with Chicago Fire on Saturday evening at Soldier Field.

Julian Carranza’s equalizer followed a Daniel Gazdag penalty, after a first-half goal from Maren Haile-Selassie and an own goal from Nathan Harriel in the early moments of the second half gave the Fire their lead.

Jim Curtin named a strong side to face the Fire, making just one change from the lineup that started in Mexico on Wednesday night. Nathan Harriel came in at left back for Kai Wagner, who’s been dealing with a hamstring injury. Jack McGlynn kept his place in midfield over Leon Flach; surprisingly, Flach was not named to the bench, either, after picking up an injury in training on Friday.

The fifth game in 15 days for the Union kicked off at Soldier Field on a pleasant spring evening, hoping to dodge scattered storms in the forecast. Mikael Uhre had the first chance after six minutes, a well-drilled pass by Daniel Gazdag sending the Dane in on goal. The run took him a touch wide of goal, though, and he could only hit the side netting.

Chicago held most of territory and the ball in the early moments. Fire defender Arnaud Souquet nearly scored a goal-of-the-year candidate just moments later, blasting a bomb from his own half that sent Andre Blake scrambling back into the net. Thankfully, the shot just went over the bar, but the pressure continued to build, with the ageless Kai Kamara troubling the Union’s backline.

The Fire found their breakthrough after 19 minutes. Maren Haile-Selassie, who’d been at the heart of everything from the right wing, snuck behind the ball-watching Harriel and, after scuffling his first touch, poked the whipped cross from Miguel Navarro into an open net.

For the sixth time this season in league play, the Union had conceded the game’s first goal.

The hosts continued to dominate, with Philly unable to gain a foothold in midfield or generate touches for their attacking players. Uhre and Julian Carranza cut frustrated figures at the top of the Union attack, with Fire defenders able to cut out the isolated moments of danger in and around their box. A counter just before the break looked like a good opportunity for Carranza, but neither Gazdag nor Uhre offered a good run and Carlos Teran stepped in to take the ball off the striker’s foot.

Just two minutes after halftime, the Union conceded a truly unfortunate own goal. An attempted clearance from Jakob Glesnes in the six-yard box clonked off of Harriel’s back and floated past a helpless Andre Blake into the net. Almost instantly, the Fire’s edge had doubled.

Chicago kept asking all the questions. Haile-Selassie had two great chances in a minute, the first blocked off by Harriel and the second stoned by Blake. Rafael Czichos flashed one over the bar moments later.

But the Union got a lifeline. A totally unnecessary foul by Navarro on Uhre just inside the far edge of the box sent Gazdag to the penalty spot. Philly’s leading scorer last year blasted one into the top of the net from the spot, cutting the deficit to just one goal.

That would be Uhre’s last action, as Curtin introduced Quinn Sullivan moments later, and he made an instant impact. Sullivan drove up the wing and put in a perfect cross for Gazdag in the box, who headed back for the run of Carranza. The striker hammered home with his foot from point-blank range, and Philly had evened the match in a matter of four minutes.

Suddenly, the previously lifeless Union were rampant. The game opened up, and they began to win every 50-50 ball. Carranza almost touched home from the doorstep, and Sullivan just pulled a shot wide of the net. Gazdag was at the heart of everything, finding the game in a way he hadn’t in the first half.

In the 80th minute, Jose Martinez nearly destroyed the goal frame with a vicious strike from about 15 yards. It would have been a spectacular goal, but the post accepted the punishment and deflected the ball away.

The crossbar evened things up at the other end, though, as substitute Xherdan Shaquiri sent Georgios Koutsias behind the defense with a lovely floated ball. Koutsias’s high-foot touch flicked the ball just over Blake, but doinked off the crossbar and stayed out.

The final moments of the game saw clashes between the two sides, including Union manager (and ex-Fire man) Curtin, who picked up a rare yellow card for his troubles. The last touch of the game saw Alejandro Bedoya fire a header right at keeper Chris Brady, seconds before the whistle put an end to the wide-open second half.

The Union next return home for one MLS match before their two-legged Champions League semifinal against LAFC. Next Saturday, they’ll host draw-happy Toronto FC. Kickoff from Subaru Park will be at — you guessed it — 7:30 p.m.

Three Points
  • Another early deficit. The Union have scored the first goal in just one of eight MLS matches this season. That’s not a recipe for winning soccer, and Jim Curtin will be eager to change it.
  • Lineup choices? It was a reasonable choice to try to keep some continuity after a good result in midweek, but the starting lineup — which featured 10 of 11 starters from midweek and a right back playing left back — looked exhausted and out of sorts through the first 60 minutes.
  • Fight back. Sure, the winless streak in the league has stretched to five matches. But the Union very easily could have packed it in after going down two goals. Instead, the squad — fueled by a bad penalty conceded by the Fire and Quinn Sullivan’s impact off the bench — dug deep to earn a valuable road point.

Philadelphia Union 

Andre Blake, Olivier Mbaizo (Matt Real 64′), Jakob Glesnes, Jack Elliott, Nathan Harriel, Jose Martinez, Alejandro Bedoya, Jack McGlynn (Jesus Bueno 90′), Daniel Gazdag, Julian Carranza, Mikael Uhre (Quinn Sullivan 64′)

Unused subs: Joe Bendik, Brandan Craig, Damion Lowe, Andres Perea, Joaquin Torres, Chris Donovan

Chicago Fire

Chris Brady, Arnaud Souquet, Carlos Teran (Kendall Burks 58′), Rafael Czichos, Miguel Navarro, Fabian Herbers (Javier Casas 80′), Gaston Gimenez (Mauricio Pineda HT), Chris Mueller, Brian Gutierrez (Xherdan Shaquiri 66′), Maren Haile-Selassie, Kei Kamara (Georgios Koutsias 66′)

Unused subs: Jeff Gal, Wyatt Omsberg, Jonathan Dean, Kacper Przybylko

Scoring Summary

CHI: Maren Haile-Selassie — 19′ (Miguel Navarro, Chris Mueller)
CHI: Nathan Harriel — 47′ (OG)
PHI: Daniel Gazdag — 62′ (PK)
PHI: Julian Carranza — 65′ (Daniel Gazdag, Quinn Sullivan)

Discipline Summary

CHI: Fabian Herbers — 66′ (foul)
PHI: Daniel Gazdag — 90+2′ (foul)
CHI: Gaston Gimenez — 90+5′ (argument)

CHI Statistic PHI CHI Statistic PHI


Possession % 50.3 58 Duels Won 51
12 Shots 16 13 Tackles Won



Shots on Goal 4 2 Saves 1
2 Blocked Shots 5 22 Clearances



Total Passes 437 8 Fouls 11
77.6 Pass Accuracy % 79.9 2 Yellow Cards



Corners 2 0 Red Cards 0
12 Crosses 12 2 xG







  1. Andy Muenz says:

    Definitely a positive draw given the circumstances. The Union clearly proved that a win at altitude 3 days earlier DOES NOT keep the team from having tired legs as they definitely looked slow for the first two thirds of the game.
    Hopefully once CCL is over in either early May or early June they’ll be able to turn things up.

  2. “It was a reasonable choice to try to keep some continuity after a good result in midweek…”
    I guess so… But with the injuries mounting, this match seemed to beg for significant squad rotation. I guess Curtin figured there is a full week before the next match, and he sees them in training. But wow… there was so much “off” in the first 60 minutes; hence, Peter’s point in the rest of that paragraph. Subs could have been made at the half and very few would have raised an eyebrow based on the first half performance.
    Some will counter, “But they got a point on the road, which is a good result considering the result against Atlas on Wednesday?” It’s a fair point on paper… but they were really, REALLY… ummmm, not good… until Chicago gave up the penalty that gave Union life.
    Then again, easy for someone like me to opine here and I agree with Andy Muenz above that I expect Union to get back on track when CCL ends. Just a brutal schedule on the body and the mind.

  3. el Pachyderm says:

    Tremendous fight back tonight so I will be lenient- also displayed a few minutes of the rhythmic Shock & Awe counterattack which makes them so dangerous. Hopefully they keep eeking towards that…
    Otherwise man is the defending poor…and Harriel had a howler of a game all around… they are making Andre look ‘typical’ and he’s anything but typical. That 0.89 gols against is a long long long ago memory.
    Carry on. Just Play Well.

    • Andy Muenz says:

      I think the defense is by far the biggest difference from last year. While the offense hasn’t really clicked, it hadn’t done so at this point last year. But the defense was REALLY good the first half of last year and it just hasn’t been the same this time.

  4. It’s that SoCal Surfer kit, I’m telling you. Makes the squad soft.

  5. John P. O'Donnell says:

    An own goal and a penalty sitting own a momentum see saw. No Flach and didn’t really hear why. Uhre is the next key to getting it going and hopefully an epic series against LAFC. Point on the road after playing at altitude against a Chicago team that’s playing better at home… I’ll take it.

  6. PaulContinuum22 says:

    Lack of depth will be the death of the 2023 Union. This was 2 points lost.

  7. I don’t understand what suddenly sparked that last 20 – 30 minutes for the Union. They were woeful for so long against a Chicago team that is not that good. I don’t think it was the subtraction of Uhre. Might have been the changes by Chicago opened them just a bit more. Whatever it was, we need to see that version of this team for more than one third of a match. Rescued what looked like a complete stinker.

    On sideline sartorial choices, I thought Hendrickson looked like a guy that had just been fetched from a back yard barbecue, had a spare club scarf placed around his shoulders and plunked out there in the technical area at the last minute. Not sure I’ve ever seen a more suburban dad look on the sideline. I’m still more of a traditionalist — Carlo Ancelotti every day. I like Jim’s tight suit days more than his current form of modeling the latest activewear from the club shop. Hendrickson was really something else. Too funny.

    • santo bevacqua says:

      The camera kept showing both coache’s mannerisms and reaction to the play, you could see the the wheels turning. The sartorial lack of elegance remarks are a good diversion from a poor caliber of FUTBALL, you can keep soccer.’

    • Early on my bride asked why they are showing that fan so much…I told her he’s Chicago’s coach. She laughed and said he’s dressed like he’s watching his kids play!

  8. Why no rotation, Jim? Why? Why?

  9. Maybe the coach doesn’t play his bench because his bench stinks? Anyone have a different plausible answer?

    • Deez Nuggs says:

      He said it himself, Jim wanted to build confidence in his main 11. They were hyped up midweek and he thought it would be a good boost to do it again.

    • Do we really think the bench stinks? Torres, Perea and Lowe were all acclaimed as good pickups in the off-season by most knowledgeable sources. They have all played well almost every time out. So has Sullivan, who has brought energy and technical ability to most of his minutes. The minutes add up on those legs. And when CCL is over, the Open Cup will be going. No rest for the weary is coming unless there is a better plan for rotation. We’ll need Bedoya for this year’s playoff run!

  10. Is anybody else concerned that every year we hear that Wagner is going to leave and yet there is currently no replacement for him on the squad?

    • Chris Gibbons says:

      I imagine it it were ever going to be a done deal, they’d have the next domino lined up

    • Maybe because management knew only a European Division 2 or 3 squad would sign him?

      I think that was the bottom line.

      When Jesse Marsch was fired at Leeds is when the noise about Kai’s transfer to a league higher than MLS seemed to stop…. or am I imagining that?

      • My informed speculation is that, while Wagner could certainly play in the Bundesliga or even a lower-table PL side, there weren’t any teams willing to meet the Union’s valuation. There’s not as much money in global soccer for a 26-year-old LB from MLS — Wagner isn’t a prospect anymore — and he has a lot of value for the Union. I don’t know how seriously interested Leeds were, but Marsch got fired after the transfer window closed.

  11. Joe Hassell says:

    Glad they were able to tie it up, but the Union had opportunities to win this one.

    He wasn’t in that long, but I thought Matt Real did a good job on the left side. Not sure why he didn’t get the start at left back because Harriel looks uncomfortable playing there. I’d like Harriel to start at the right back position. Some have said Mbaizo plays a more offensive game, but to me he’s a risk on defense plus he passes away a lot of balls to the opponent. So does Martinez, who works so hard defensively getting the ball only to give it away almost immediately with a lousy pass.

    Also, wasn’t Koutsias clearly offsides when Shaquiri floated the ball to him over the defense when he “doinked (the ball) off the crossbar”?

    • I also thought he was offsides. I was surprised the broadcast crew didn’t mention it

      • Andy Muenz says:

        Why would you be surprised by an Apple broadcast crew not mentioning something significant? Don’t forget the pair in Montreal who thought that a player couldn’t be offsides if he plays the ball after it hit the crossbar.

      • Chris Gibbons says:

        Ooof. I had forgotten about that call – not flattering.

  12. Apple+ is anything but a PLUS.

    Poor to dreadful announcers who have no idea about the teams they’re watching.

    Production quality that is amateurish…. how often do we have to look at the darn coaches during live play… or listen to those announcers blather on about things they really know nothing about?

    And Saturday night…. WHAT THE HELL HAPPENED AT 930pm? As far as I know, all Apple products stopped working? So did Netflix…. and absolutely nothing from Apple or MLS explaining what happened?

    It’s those Damm balloons flying over MLS, disrupting our SOCCER!

    Seriously…. Apple+ is a HUGE DISAPPOINTMENT, and a joke played on all loyal fans by Don “Grabmoremoney”, again.

  13. Was in DC all weekend, listened to Dave Leno on I-F’dradio app… Which was cool… but it was out of sync so much with TV stream, difficult.

    BTW….. Dave Leno’s call of the game was just GREAT on the radio! Huge plus for Union media… And an alternative to the nit whits on Apple+.


  14. PaulContinuum22 says:

    ESPN still has the U in 18th place in its rankings: “I’ve been talking myself into the Union despite their results all season, so why stop now? A draw at Atlas and then a comeback draw in Chicago is the type of jump Philly has needed. The best of the Union is right around the corner (he said for about the fifth time this season).”
    And the Connie Mack of MLS, Jay Sugarman emerged from his bunker today: Curtin’s status will be settled before his contract expires this year. If they stay a lot closer to Inter Miami and not near the top of the East, that decision will be academic.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *


%d bloggers like this: