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Philadelphia Union vs. Chicago Fire | MLS Match Preview

PHIvCHI, May 18, 2013

Photo Credit: 
USA TODAY Sports

PHILADELPHIA UNION vs CHICAGO FIRE

PPL PARK, Chester, Pa.

May 18, 2013 (WEEK 12, MLS Game #106)
7:30 p.m. ET (TCN-Phi; My50 Chi)

Philadelphia Union and the Chicago Fire meet in the back end of their home-and-home series over two weekends when the clubs face off Saturday evening at PPL Park. Union came away with a 1-0 victory when the clubs met at Toyota Park a week ago. In between, Union returned home for a midweek encounter with the LA Galaxy, dropping a 4-1 decision to the defending MLS Cup champions.

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REFEREE: Allen Chapman. AR1 (bench): Eric Boria; AR2 (opposite): Kevin Klinger; 4th: Kevin Terry Jr.
MLS Career: 17 games; FC/gm: 20.5; Y/gm: 3.2; R: 2; pens: 4

DISABLED LIST: none
SUSPENDED: none
WARNINGS:
SUSPENDED NEXT YELLOW CARD: CHI: Daniel Paladini
SUSPENDED AFTER TWO YELLOW CARDS: PHI: Conor Casey, Raymon Gaddis
INTERNATIONAL ABSENCES: none

HEAD-TO-HEAD
ALL-TIME (8 meetings): Union 4 wins, 10 goals … Fire 3 wins, 9 goals … Ties 1
AT PHILADELPHIA (4 meetings): Union 2 wins, 4 goals … Fire 1 win, 4 goals … Ties 0
FUTURE MATCH: 8/3: Philadelphia Union vs. Chicago Fire, 7:30 p.m. ET

  • The teams are meeting in the back end of their home-and-home series over two weekends. Union took a 1-0 victory on Saturday afternoon at Toyota Park behind a second-half goal from MLS Golden Boot leader Jack McInerney.
  • Coming into the first meeting, the teams had exactly evenly split their series over the last three seasons, each team winning three times, with one draw. Each team had also scored nine goals.
  • The teams ended their season series a year ago with 3-1 victories at the other’s ground, the Fire winning at PPL Park on Aug. 12, and Union returning the favor Oct. 3 at Toyota Park.
  • Coaches record: John Hackworth vs. CHI: P3 W2 L1 D0 … Frank Klopas vs. PHI: P5 W2 L2 D1

LAST MEETING (MLS):
5/11: CHI 0, PHI 1 (McInerney 75)

  • The game's lone goal came in the 75th minute. Second-half substitute Sebastien Le Toux played a quick restart from midfield, lobbing a freekick over the Fire backline, and Jack McInerney raced onto it and poked it home past goalkeeper Sean Johnson from the second chance.
  • Union goalkeeper Zac MacMath made six saves for the shutout behind a makeshift Philadelphia back four.
  • CHICAGO FIRE (4-1-3-2): Sean Johnson - Wells Thompson, Austin Berry, Jalil Anibaba, Gonzalo Segares - Daniel Paladini (Quincy Amarikwa 84) - Dilly Duka (Alex 63), Logan Pause, Joel Lindpere (Maicon Santos 73) - Patrick Nyarko, Chris Rolfe.
  • PHILADELPHIA UNION (4-1-3-2): Zac MacMath - Raymon Gaddis, Amobi Okugo, Bakary Soumare, Gabriel Farfan - Brian Carroll - Danny Cruz (Sebastien Le Toux 56), Keon Daniel, Michael Farfan - Jack McInerney, Conor Casey (Antoine Hoppenot 61).

PHILADELPHIA UNION
Philadelphia Union lost for the first time in three matches, the LA Galaxy getting three late goals in their way to a 4-1 victory on Wednesday evening at PPL Park. Union sit in fifth place in the Eastern Conference with 15 points from 11 matches.

LAST MATCH

  • The Galaxy were in the lead after just three minutes. Landon Donovan launched a corner kick into the box that, with Galaxy defender Omar Gonzalez right in front of him, went off the side of goalkeeper Zac MacMath’s face, off the crossbar and into the net for an own goal.
  • Union pulled level in the 23rd minute when Sheanon Williams launched a long throw-in from the right touchline and found center back Amobi Okugo streaking through the box, and his flick header sailed inside the far post.
  • The Galaxy broke the game open late. Donovan set up the game-winning goal in the 71st minute with a sharp pass to Robbie Keane, whose cut back to his left and put a cool finish past MacMath while all alone in front of the Union 'keeper.
  • Hector Jimenez made it 3-1 in the 80th minute as the Galaxy worked the ball through the midfield, Donovan laying it out wide and Jimenez converting with a rolling shot off the inside of the left post.
  • Donovan and Keane combined for the capper on the counter in the 87th minute, Keane racing upfield before laying the ball square for Donovan to roll home into an unguarded goal from inside the box after cutting past MacMath.
  • Union team manager John Hackworth made three changes to the team that defeated the Chicago Fire 1-0 at Toyota Park. Sheanon Williams returned from suspension, replacing the departed Gabriel Farfan, and Sebastien Le Toux and Jose Kleberson came into the side, in place of Michael Farfan and Conor Casey.
  • PHILADELPHIA UNION (4-1-4-1): Zac MacMath - Sheanon Williams, Bakary Soumare (Michael Farfan 81), Amobi Okugo, Raymon Gaddis - Brian Carroll - Danny Cruz (Antoine Hoppenot 64), Sebastien Le Toux (Conor Casey 64), Jose Kleberson, Keon Daniel - Jack McInerney.

TEAM NEWS

  • Union have now gone three games without a win at PPL Park (0-1-2) and have won just once in Chester in five games, the 1-0 win vs. New England on March 16.
  • I think our mentality might be a little tougher on the road and we are trying to push things at home. You definitely tend to keep a little tighter on the road,” said Union manager John Hackworth. “Honestly, we played probably the best 40 minutes we have played in that first half. We had the two-time defending champions on the rope in a big way and we just have to be able to sustain that.”
  • The four goals conceded by Union were a season-high and a club record in MLS play, set three times earlier, the last coming in a 4-4 draw vs. New England on Sept. 7, 2011.
  • “If you want to take that as a 4-1 game, then go for it,” Sheanon Williams said. “But it’s not. We pushed numbers forward, knowing we wanted to get points at home. What does it matter if you lose 3-1 or 8-1? We have to go for the goals. And they punished us for it.”
  • Union scored a third goal this season from a Williams long throw-in. Conor Casey netted in the March 30 loss at New York and Jack McInerney scored in the April 21 win at D.C. United – where the ball was helped on by Okugo.
  • José Kléberson made his first start in MLS, coming into a central midfield role and playing the entire match. He made two substitute appearances, totaling 29 minutes, the last on April 27.
  • “Jose did a good job in his first start and you see a lot of good qualities there. Good performance by him especially the start. Probably tough for him to play 90, but you got to get those game minutes,” said Hackworth. “At the end of the game we were probably not thinking of playing him the full 90 but your thought is that you keep a guy of that quality in the game.”
  • Said Okugo: “Kléberson came in and did a great job with his through balls and his ability to slow it down and speed it up. Unfortunately he didn’t get a goal, because he was pushing for one. It’s good because he is a different type of player that we are not used to and he made a lasting impact. Hopefully he can start getting minutes.”
  • Sebastien Le Toux made his first start in six matches, since April 13, coming into a deep-lying striker’s position with McInerney as the spearhead of the attack.
  • Zac MacMath faced a season-high eight shots in conceded the most goals in his young professional career.
  • “He kept us in the game with a couple of good saves when it was still 1-1 and that is all you can ask. I don’t fault him for the rest of it. He didn’t deserve to take full credit for sure,” said Hackworth. Said MacMath: “It’s frustrating anytime you give up four goals. Regardless what night it is, it’s not a good night for a goalkeeper.”

READ: Once-disgruntled Bakary Soumare eyes third start in a week for Union

CHICAGO FIRE
The Chicago Fire went down to defeat for a second consecutive match, dropping a 1-0 decision to Philadelphia Union in the front end of their home-and-home series last Saturday at Toyota Park. The Fire are in a tie for eighth place in the Eastern Conference with 7 points from 9 matches.

TEAM NEWS

  • Fire head coach Frank Klopas made two changes to the team that dropped a 2-0 decision to the Montréal Impact at Stade Saputo. Wells Thompson came back from suspension and Dilly Duka also came into the team, in place of Sherjill MacDonald and the suspended Jeff Larentowicz.
  • Sherjill MacDonald was a scratch from the lineup, suffering from strep throat. In his stead, Klopas ran out Patrick Nyarko as the spearhead attack with Chris Rolfe as the underneath striker.
  • “They combined well. They showed well. You can see by the opportunities. Patrick was dangerous, their ability to play off each other and stay more connected. Pushing Danny a little bit higher up the field because everyone has to defend. You need their energy mostly in the final third,” said Klopas. “As a team we are pretty hard. Patrick, when he got the ball, was very good off the dribble. He created a lot of opportunities but he didn't get rewarded with a goal.”
  • Said Nyarko: “It's just a different mentality. Most of the other players think I'm better up there [in the forward position], but I'm just out there trying to do what I do best – creating a bunch of chances and hopefully finishing a few."
  • The Fire were shut out for a second consecutive game and for the fifth time this season.
  • “It would be different if you’re not creating chances then you could scratch your head. You look at the game, we had more possession in the second half. There were shots on goals, opportunities,” said Klopas. “I can't tell you, all I can tell you is we had opportunities, but we need to finish. We had five, six, seven chances. It would be nice to score a couple goals to take the pressure off.”
  • The Fire attack will also be without Maicon Santos for a few weeks after he suffered a shoulder injury. Santos has made eight consecutive appearances off the substitutes’ bench after starting the season opener.
  • The Fire lost a second 1-0 game this season, also falling by that scoreline to New England on March 9.
  • “We are missing Arne Friedrich in the back for sure, 100 percent,” Klopas said. “His ability to communicate and over 90 minutes his ability to dictate the backline when to move up and stay connected with the team. He is really good with his feet and plays the right balls at the right time out of pressure. It is huge. We are making some mistakes that are hurting us. We miss Friedrich's leadership on a play like [last week].”
  • The Fire have conceded five goals from set pieces this season, second-most in MLS, behind D.C. United, who have allowed six on standard situations.
  • "It was just a quick restart and we didn't step in front of the ball so they couldn't take it quick and we kind of lost McInerney when he got in behind," center back Austin Berry said. "It's pretty frustrating, especially considering how we were playing up to that point, putting a lot of pressure on them and getting chances."

READ: Sherjill MacDonald back in training this week, but likely will not be starting vs. Union