Union / Union match reports

Match report: Philadelphia Union 2-2 Chicago Fire

Photo: Ben O’Brien

The Philadelphia Union and Chicago Fire played to a 2-2 draw in what was a wild opening match to the 2024 MLS season.

Chicago Fire goals by Brian Gutiérrez (39′) and Fabian Herbers (82′) were canceled out by Union goals from Mikael Uhre (55′) and Dániel Gazdag (90′ + 3), respectively.

Despite the frosty temperatures at kickoff, the atmosphere was electric as the Union faithful welcomed back the boys in blue as they began their 2024 MLS season.

In their second of three games in an eight-game stretch, head coach Jim Curtin sent out a nearly identical lineup to that used this past Tuesday against Saprissa in Costa Rica.

The sole change was made out of necessity, as Oliver Semmle, signed from Louisville City FC this offseason, made his Union debut in net in replacement of an injured Andre Blake.

Chances were few and far between for both teams through the first quarter of the match.

Despite some decent combination play by the Union, seemingly every opportunity failed to materialize, including a lovely through ball by Jack McGlynn in the 14′ minute which sprung Nathan Harriel down the right side into open space.  However, Julián Carranza was tripped up from behind while making the run into the box. No foul was called and the Fire dealt with the incoming cross easily.

The action finally began to pick up in the 27′ when the Union found their first shot of the game, as the ball off of a Union corner trickled out to the edge of the eighteen for Quinn Sullivan, but the Union homegrown’s shot went well over the crossbar.

The Fire found some life shortly after when Allan Arigoni’s cross into the box found an open Gutiérrez at the far post, but his header would trickle just wide of the goal.

The Union nearly found the net in the 32′ when a Uhre cross into the box was cleverly flicked on by Carranza and nearly found the boot of Gazdag waiting at the back post. However, the ball was just out of reach for the striker and bounced over the end-line for a Fire goal kick.

Chicago broke the deadlock in the 38′ when Gutiérrez picked up a bouncing ball, dribbled past José Martínez into the corner of the 18-yard box, and ripped a shot with his right foot that beat Semmle and found the back of the net.

After an added four minutes of stoppage time and no additional chances, the first half came to a close.

The Union appeared to equalize right out of the gate when a lovely ball by McGlynn found Harriel running toward the end line, who then crossed the ball in front of the net to Gazdag for an easy finish. But after a quick VAR review, the striker was ruled offside.

Another chance came a minute later when a screamer from Sullivan outside of the box went just wide of the far post.

Curtin’s side was beginning to build some momentum in front of a River End that continued to cheer on their side for an equalizer.

They got what they wanted in the 55′ when a lovely bit of passing from Gazdag found Sullivan making the run at the outside of the box. Sullivan played the ball across to the foot of Gazdag who cooly finished by sliding the ball underneath Fire goalkeeper Chris Brady to even the score at 1-1.

The sequence was very similar to the one which led to the waived-off goal less than ten minutes earlier.

Another strong chance came in the 68′ when a brilliant Kai Wagner switch of play found Harriel in stride who played a dangerous ball into the box that somehow missed the boot of Carranza.

The chances kept coming in the 74′ minute when Sullivan picked up the ball just inside the eighteen and ripped a low shot on the ground which required a decent kick save from Brady.

The Fire would find a second goal and take the lead again in the 82′.

Semmle made an initial save on a strong shoot but gave up a juicy rebound. Jakob Glesnes attempted the block on the subsequent shot but the ball found its way to the foot of former Union man Herbers who hammered it home to give the Fire a late 2-1 lead.

The Union thought they found the equalizer minutes later in the 87′.

Sullivan slid the ball to Damion Lowe in the box who dribbled to the end line and played the ball across the box. The ball bounced at the feet of Carranza but trickled its way to Harriel who found the back of the net. But VAR found Lowe to be offside on the pass from Sullivan.

Again, the Union persevered and found another equalizer in stoppage time.

A lovely outside-of-the-boot entry pass from Sullivan into the box found Alejandro Bedoya, who one-timed it onto the running Martínez, who then crossed it into the box and found Gazdag who finished with the header to even the score at 2-2.

The Union were mere inches from taking a late lead when a Wagner corner was deflected and landed in the foot of Uhre, who hit the bar on his shot.

The Fire almost retook the lead moments after with a clear breakaway shot, but Semmle was up to the task and made a game-saving kick-save to keep the score tied at two apiece.

The Union nearly had the winning goal once again in the dying minutes when Wagner played a free kick into the box, but Glesnes’ header narrowly missed and went out for a goal kick.

The referee would blow the whistle moments later to end the match 2-2.

Three Points

Wild Opener- After a fairly calm opening half, the second half provided non-stop action. The chances were certainly there for the Union to take all three points in their home opener, but after being down on two separate occasions, Curtin and Co. will accept the point to start the season.

Mikael Uhre – The Union need a strong season from their DP. After a tough opening match on Tuesday, a goal is just what the doctor ordered for the Danish striker.

The right side of things – With Chicago starting right back Andrew Gutman leaving the match in just the 4′, Harriel, Sullivan, and Gazdag took advantage and had a ton of success in the second half down the right side, which is where both Union goals were generated.


Philadelphia Union (4-4-2)

Oliver Semmle, Jakob Glesnes (C), Damion Lowe, Nathan Harriel, Kai Wagner, José Martínez, Daniel Gazdag, Jack McGlynn (Alejandro Bedoya – 79′), Quinn Sullivan, Mikael Uhre, Julián Carranza

Unused Subs: Jack Elliot, Holden Trent, Jeremy Rafanello, Olivier Mbaizo, Jesús Bueno, Chris Donovan, Tai Baribo, Markus Anderson

Chicago Fire (4-2-3-1)

Chris Brady, Rafael Czichos, Andrew Gutman ((Chase Gasper – 4′ (Jonathan Dean – 73′)), Mauricio Pineda, Allan Arigoni, Maren Haile-Selassie, Xherdan Shaqiri (C) (Kellyn Acosta – 73′), Brian Gutiérrez (Federico Navarro – 88′), Fabian Herbers, Gastón Giménez, Hugo Cuypers (Tom Barlow – 88′)

Unused subs: Chris Mueller, Wyatt Omsberg, Spencer Richey, Georgios Koutsias

Scoring Summary

CHI – Gutiérrez 39′

PHI – Uhre 55′

CHI – Herbers 82′

PHI – Gazdag 90′

Discipline Summary

CHI – Pineda (Yellow Card, 45′ – Foul)

CHI – Brady (Yellow Card, 69′ – Time Wasting)

PHI – Martínez (Yellow Card, 86′ – Foul)



  1. Can neither beat the wind……nor the Windy City.

  2. .
    Jack McGlynn will be fine as a key pass player if he’s feeding Quinn Sullivan like that all season. Sullivan electric tonight… with lots of unfinished end product too. Hard to imagine he was so buried last year. Good news is he should be a regular this season.
    It was an exciting match— which is something we couldn’t say much last year— so that’s a positive. Some serious defending issues remain and despite scoring UHRE pissing me off early and often already this season.
    I’ll tip my hat to the referees— who were it not for them — there would be no game today. I’m sick of reading the social media comments after one game — about their ‘deficiencies’ —as if the hold outs are much much better. Takes courage to ‘cross a line.’
    Lastly and very importantly—despite my significant difficulties with MLS trying to ruin the soccer ecosystem in America… I find myself remaining committed to the bond with the local team.
    Hey MLS—- You’re a filthy rat virus.

    • 100% agree on Quinn. Great job tonight. I like McGlynn in attack too but… ahh, they have him picked out as the defensive weak spot. Every attack came up his side.
      I refuse to bad mouth the ref. Dude was probably doing high school games last week and now he’s being berated by 18000 in a stadium. Tough role. As you say, without them no game for me to watch. BUT… MLS should just pay the refs. Jonathan Tannenwald reported on their salary and if that’s true it is not a living wage.
      Uhre deserves some slack. He’s scored. He’s active. And that is a lovely way to start the season. If it presages things to come, we are in great shape.
      I love the heart and fight tonight. Got us all out of our seats. Never say die.
      Exciting game to watch. Cold one to be at. My face is going to overheat for the next 8 hours until it finally figures out I’m indoors again and it doesn’t need to work so hard keeping temps.

      • Uhre scored from where he should be – in the box. Hoping this is good for him up until what should have been the winning goal hit the crossbar. smh – He has to make a shot like that practically a sitter.

      • I get it about Uhre — you and Eric are ultimately correct.
        My issue has become the competencies he does not have with the ball at his feet.
        He’s so one foot dominant it impacts his decision making which then costs him / the team possession.

    • +1. Leave it to MLS to start the season in frigid February.

      • Although if most “real” soccer (excuse me, football) fans had their way, we would be on the international calendar playing half of our season in the frigid winter, so at least it’s only a couple of games.

      • Eric, I’ve argued for a Clausura Apertura for years which effectively solves the winter schedule challenge.

  3. Two observations from Section 108. First, the ref was in over his head. The MLS and the referee’s Union need to work out their differences because this level of officiating will be unacceptable for any sustained period of time.

    Second, how can Jim Curtin only use one sub? Does he not trust anyone on the bench? The starters generally played well (the Union certainly outplayed Chicago most of the night) but is Jim signaling to us that there is no one he can bring in to offer a spark towards the end of the game? Baribo is an international player – can he not contribute 20’? How about Anderson? Maybe some youthful exuberance would be helpful? With the congested easily season schedule, rotation will be important, and tonight’s match does not inspire confidence.

  4. If Uhre isn’t plugged in with a sports psychologist, he should be.

  5. Goal for Gazdag from open play is a nice way to start the season. Beautiful cross from Martinez.

    Listened via radio driving home. JP was doing broadcast with Seba. Since I didn’t re-up for Apple, this is how I’m consuming most matches this season. Then JP says “Dave back next match.”

    I miss JP

  6. +1 only one sub?

    Nitpick: Glesnes didn’t “attempt” to block the shot. He blocked the shot, it just ended up at the wrong foot.

    To my eyes it was two handballs against Chicago in the last 30 seconds. Perhaps not, but no VAR?

  7. John P. O'Donnell says:

    Sullivan looked like he belonged tonight. Team still looks like they need more urgency to start the game again but I think that’s just a matter of playing a few more games. One day Uhre will be my hero but right now it’s time for him to close his eyes when be shoots because it looks like it’s always at the goalie.

    • Strikers have to believe they can do it. All confidence. Scoring tonight might help with that.
      But I have a lot of hope for him this season. And now there’s evidence…
      Goal, obviously. But also…
      UHRE WENT THE FULL 90+8!
      He’s fitter. He’s running. The press has been good over two games.
      Fingers crossed

    • Andrew Marvell says:

      Agreed! Sullivan looked great, as he did vs. Saprissa. High hopes for the lad!

  8. paulcontinuum2022 says:


    Fire were 3rd from last, last year, and you can only muster a TIE? Batten down the hatches, everyone.

    • Fire turned over the whole roster and beginning of season no team is who they will be. Calm down with that pessimistic sh….

    • Chris Gibbons says:


      Here’s my request of you: write your thesis in 1,000 words and submit it to the new editors of this site. PSP is a vibrant community of volunteers and commenters and they deserve to hear your side of the debate.

      So articulate it. Open your argument up to scrutiny. Put your (volunteered) money where your mouth is.

      See if what you believe stands up.

      A PSP writer/editor/podcaster of the Past

  9. Staying Positive New Goalie made key save. Wagner stayed on team. Sullivan looked a lot more confident.Team played with urgency when they needed to and scored. Gazdag got a run of play goal to start his season not a PK. Uhre looks like he trying to play with more intensity.Harriel was effective at giving key passes from the right side of the field.

  10. I don’t know what to say. A lot of the game looked like 11 players who just met each other for the first time. The defense looked pretty disjointed on the rare occasions Chicago decided to attack. I’m guessing that Chicago’s expected goals were significantly less than 2.
    The offense spent a lot of team having possession without purpose, something they’ve forced on their opponents rather than the other way around. They are not a team that thrives with 55% possession.
    As usual, Martinez took another stupid dead ball yellow, made even worse by the fact that the goal was called back.
    While the replacement refs were necessary, they also had some major issues, especially with off the ball fouls. Also, the linesman failed to raise his flag on either goal that was called back. Which brings up the question as to why the center ref was reviewing video for offsides. Isn’t that normally a call for the VAR to call down to the field unless it’s a question as to whether an offsides player was involved in the play?

  11. 3 games 8 days 1 sub. I get that Curtin feels like there isn’t anyone better on the bench. If only we had a way to expoit a weak left side of Chicago with an offensive minded substitute who might dribble at an attacker. No, not Ilsinho, Mbaizo.

    I get that Harriel was having a good game but at the end don’t you think Mbaizo would have been the better option?

    And what is up with Elliot? I’d he hurt or moved to 3rd at CB now?

  12. One sub is a positive it indicates the team to be fit to play a full ninety eg Uhre. Sullivan did not seem all that gassed at the end considering he had so much contribution to the attack.With so many games in the schedule Curtin has to be diligent in the management of playing time. I am very encouraged that The U will make strides to success and may have a lucky chance at winning a trophy. enjoy the commentators on this page a very nice audience. FOOTBALL is a beautiful game.

    • No question Sullivan was aggressive and made an impact throughout the game. However he normally is not a 90 minute player – good to see he can go the distance. Having said that I noticed a play towards the end where he should have beat the opponent to the ball easily but clearly ran out of gas. Maybe he was fighting a Chicago sub with fresh legs but that is the point.

      • If I remember the one, it was right after he had sprinted all the way back to his own box to help press a guy, and was out of gas in that moment — but looked fine a minute later.

      • If it’s the play I’m thinking of, I thought he looked up to see about passing it and then lost control while he was doing that.

      • Vince Devine says:

        Jim has frequently commented that Sullivan is the fittest player on the team.

  13. Here is the view from Section 105:

    1) Kudos for the fans for showing up on an uncomfortably cold night. I did not hear the attendance announced, but there were very few empty seats.
    2) The first half was pretty ugly with lots of fouls and chippiness. It seemed as though the ref consciously did not want to issue yellow cards. Fortunately, it did not seem as though any of the fouls caused any serious injuries.
    3) Gutierrez strike was a rocket–no goalie saves that. There was obviously a defensive lapse that allowed him to get such an open chance.
    4) Chicago are much improved. If they stay healthy, they probably will make the playoffs this year. [Note: I said the same thing last year about Columbus after they finished bottom in 2021 and after the Union beat them in the home opener.].
    5) Quinn Sullivan looks stronger and a bit heavier than last year. It seemed as though every time the ball was at his feet in the second half, good things happened with but one exception: On the short corner that Wagner rolled to him at 90’+ 5′, he needed to hit the ball on the roll.
    6) The AR on our side did not flag either of the Union goals that were disallowed by VAR. The second of the two disallowed goals was obviously offside, so much so that I refrained from singing the Doop song after it went in. The first disallowed goal was extremely tight, and it was complicated by the fact that Carranza, who was making a run with Gazdag at the far post, was clearly offside.
    7) After Semmle made his first touch in goal, picking up a ball rolled into the penalty area, my soon-to-be 9 year-old grandson remarked, “He’s already better than Bendik.” His positioning and decision-making seemed sound, and that last save was critical in gaining a point.
    8) One player who was gassed at the end was Jose Martinez, who as usual gave maximal effort, despite the yellow for “dissent.”

  14. Sullivan pants look like Larry Bird’s shorts in the 70s.

  15. Uninspired for 70 minutes.

    Substitutes not till 80th minute?

    And as usual, Curtin again holding this squad back from winning the big games.

    Just terrible to sit thru that crap, below freezing, because MLS has so many tournaments, the season and abuse on the players is endless.

    6th place predicted by many… we’re gonna be lucky to even make the playoffs, from what I saw last night. Chicago is a terrible team, and we again played down to their level…

    • Did you see all the moves the Fire made in the offseason? They are not a terrible team.
      Should the Union have won? Probably. But the Fire are going to be a playoff team this year.

      • The Fire will be improved, not sure if they’ll make the playoffs though. It’s going to be VERY tight in the east. Outside of Toronto and Charlotte a case can be made for every other Eastern Team to make the playoffs.
        I guess the poster you responded to wasn’t paying any attention at the start of the second half…. The Union were running rampant the first 20 minutes of the second stanza.
        Also MLS has started in February Since 2020 (covid 21 not with standing). Prior to that the season started the first week of March.

  16. Happy home opener!! It was a bit chilly but the fans really showed up! The place was rocking and the boys played well! Only the second game played so far and it’s looking pretty good! Was disappointed with only one sub so I’m hoping to see some more rotation for the Saprissa game. It’s a good sign to get Uhre and Gazdag on the scoreboard from open play! The youth looked like they belong and José got a card for dissent! Kinda a perfect early season night at the ole ballpark!!

    Also loved the way the entire stadium went quiet to hear Ashlie Allen singing the Star Spangled Banner!! Always a highlight of the Night!

    • … boys played well…????
      I guess I was watching a different match Sat night, freezing my *ss off.

      Uninspired for 70 minutes, Chicago a terrible squad we played down to, without subs, again… as usual.


  17. I think I have to really adjust my expectations. The (at least) once per game terrible defensive lapse leading to a golden chance is real, and not likely to change. The defensive glory days of 2 years ago are dead and buried.
    The offensive ball movement and attacking in the 2nd half was encouraging. I share the concerns above about Uhre. The miss at the end was not good. He must play better. Scoring is nice, but playing better is the objective.
    My thought on the officiated is that it wasn’t really worse than many matches crewed by the regulars. That said, I still believe that they should be paid more, and that the better ones get more than the not good enough ones. It was nice to see a yellow for time wasting – better late than never.
    I cannot wait for the anti-writhing rules to be introduced. Good old Fabi writhes, pokes his head up, looks around, and then gets back to writhing. Meh.
    The crapple tv announcers sucked. They were Chicago homers. Really, crapple? Home game and we get that? Does anyone at crapple or MLS listen to the broadcasts? Are the crews rated? It sure doesn’t seem like it. I would rather listen to college radio station people than most of the crapple crews.

    • To be honest, I’d rather the crappier announcers for home games than road games since I’m attending most of the home games and don’t listen to them. I used to rewatch the games after attending but not bothering to do that with Apple.

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