Preview: Union, Fire both seek returns to win column

The Philadelphia Union return to their PPL Park home to take on the Chicago Fire on Saturday evening (8 p.m. ET, Galavision). The Union have now gone three games without a victory, falling 2-0 at FC Dallas last weekend to end a busy week. The Fire have played to draws in four consecutive matches and haven’t won since March, last coming back for a 2-2 tie at Toronto FC.

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REFEREE: Hilario Grajeda. SAR (bench): Bill Dittmar; JAR (opposite): Paul Scott; 4th: Daniel Fitzgerald
Grajeda's MLS Career: 41 games; FC/gm: 25.5; Y/gm: 3.6; R: 8; pens: 8

INJURY REPORT: PHILADELPHIA UNION – OUT: GK Thorne Holder (concussion); MF Zach Pfeffer (appendectomy); DOUBTFUL: MF Stefani Miglioranzi (R groin strain); QUESTIONABLE: DF Juan Diego Gonzalez (illness); PROBABLE: GK Faryd Mondragon (R groin strain); MF Gabe Farfan (L hamstring strain); FW Danny Mwanga (R shoulder strain)

CHICAGO FIRE – OUT: MF Mike Banner (L Achilles tendinitis); DF Steven Kinney (R Achilles repair); MF Patrick Nyarko (concussion symptoms); MF Michael Videira (concussion symptoms); DOUBTFUL: MF Marko Maric (L deltoid sprain/talar contusion); QUESTIONABLE: MF Pari Pantazopolous (L quad contusion); DF Josip Mikulic (L shoulder injury); PROBABLE: GK Sean Johnson (R quad strain)

INTERNATIONAL ABSENCES: none
SUSPENDED: none

WARNINGS:
SUSPENDED NEXT YELLOW CARD: PHI: Danny Mwanga … CHI: Gonzalo Segares
SUSPENDED AFTER TWO YELLOW CARDS: PHI: Sheanon Williams … CHI: Diego Chaves, Daniel Paladini

HEAD-TO-HEAD:
ALL-TIME (2 meetings): Union 1 win, 2 goals … Fire 1 win, 2 goals … Ties 0
AT PHILADELPHIA (1 meeting): Union 1 win, 1 goal … Fire 0 wins, 0 goals … Ties 0
RETURN MATCH: 8/3: Chicago Fire vs. Philadelphia Union, 8 p.m. CT
LAST YEAR (MLS):
6/5: CHI 2, PHI 1 (Husidic 14; Pappa 74 – Mwanga 90)
9/11: PHI 1, CHI 0 (Le Toux 36)

  • The teams split their meetings in Union’s first season, each winning on their home ground. The Union won 1-0 at PPL Park on Sept. 11.
  • Coaches record: Peter Nowak v CHI: P14 W5 L7 D2 … Carlos de los Cobos vs. PHI: P2 W1 L1 D0

PHILADELPHIA UNION

Philadelphia Union saw their winless run reach three games, falling 2-0 to FC Dallas on Saturday evening at Pizza Hut Park, Union have 14 points from 9 matches on the year, in second place in the Eastern Conference.

PHILADELPHIA UNION - LAST MATCH

  • FC Dallas opened the scoring in the 29th minute. After skipping past Union defender Jordan Harvey, Fabian Castillo sent a rolling cross to a waiting Brek Shea, who tapped in from almost on the goal line.
  • The lead was doubled two minutes before the break. Jackson darted down the right flank and floated in a cross to Castillo between defenders, and he flicked his header past Mondragón.
  • Union manager Peter Nowak made three changes to the team that played to a 1-1 draw with the LA Galaxy at PPL Park. Amobi Okugo and Roger Torres came into the midfield for Kyle Nakazawa and Keon Daniel, and Danny Mwanga started up top for Carlos Ruiz.
  • PHILADELPHIA UNION (4-4-2): Faryd Mondragon - Sheanon Williams, Carlos Valdes, Danny Califf, Jordan Harvey - Amobi Okugo, Brian Carroll (Jack McInerney 46), Roger Torres (Keon Daniel 73), Justin Mapp (Carlos Ruiz 46) - Sebastien Le Toux, Danny Mwanga.

PHILADELPHIA UNION - TEAM NEWS

  • The Union allowed more than one goal in a game for the first time this season in the loss at FC Dallas, and have lost twice and tied one in their last three games.
  • "We have to go back to work, not only offensively but also defensively. After that good 25 minutes we slowed up and let them [FC Dallas] get two easy goals,” Union manager Peter Nowak said.
  • In a bid to overturn the two-goal deficit in Dallas, Nowak started the second half with five out-and-out attackers: Carlos Ruiz and Jack McInerney coming on as substitutes to join Roger Torres, Danny Mwanga and Sebastien Le Toux.
  • “I think we had a very busy week with travel, so I think it was good to refresh our lineup,” Nowak said. “Those changes were necessary. I think we need to keep the lineup fresh and continue to develop as a team.”
  • Union forced FC Dallas goalkeeper Kevin Hartman into just one save – that coming on a long-range effort from Danny Mwanga late in the match.
  • “I think our chemistry is right,” Mwanga said. “We had a couple of chances early. We just have to finish our chances and we will be OK.” Said Nowak: "From this situation we had in the first 20 or 25 minutes, we should be up 3-0."
  • After playing on the road on back-to-back weekends – with a home match against the LA Galaxy in between at midweek – the Fire game is a brief respite before Union head back out on the road for games at Toronto FC (May 28) and Colorado (June 4)
  • “One of the worst things in this league is the travel,” Union defender Danny Califf said. “Travel in general is always tiring and then you throw in three games in a week and that stuff is tough. I think over the next month, you’re really going to find out how well we’re going to do going forward.”

CHICAGO FIRE
The Chicago Fire reached a draw for a fourth consecutive match, but this time was more satisfying, coming back for a 2-2 result with Toronto FC on Saturday evening at BMO Field. The Fire have 8 points from 9 matches on the year, sitting in eighth place in the Eastern Conference.

CHICAGO FIRE - LAST MATCH

  • Toronto FC got off to an ideal start. Joao Plata collected the ball on the left flank and ran toward the top of the box, curling a low, right-footed shot inside the far post for a 1-0 advantage.
  • Shortly after the break, TFC doubled their margin when Maicon Santos fired a speculative shot from 30 yards out which went right through the legs of Fire goalkeeper Jon Conway.
  • Fire manager Carlos de los Cobos inserted Orr Barouch, and the 19-year-old striker quickly made his mark. He earned a foul at the top of the box in the 63rd minute, and Marco Pappa curled a magnificent left-footed free kick that found the top right corner.
  • Chicago completed the comeback 13 minutes later. Corben Bone sent in a ball from the right which crossed the face of the goal before an unmarked Barouch connected with his knee on a sliding effort, bundling the ball over the line.
  • Fire head coach Carlos de los Cobos made one change to the team that reached a scoreless draw with Vancouver Whitecaps FC at Toyota Park. Cory Gibbs returned to the back four for Josip Mikulic.
  • CHICAGO FIRE (4-1-4-1): Jon Conway - Jalil Anibaba, Cory Gibbs, Yamith Cuesta, Gonzalo Segares - Dan Paladini - Dominic Oduro (Bratislav Ristic 93+), Corben Bone, Gaston Puerari (Orr Barouch 58), Marco Pappa - Diego Chaves (Baggio Husidic 91+).

CHICAGO FIRE TEAM NEWS

  • The Fire are still looking for their second victory of the season, their first since March 26. Their current seven-game winless run matches one of the same length a year ago, the longest since their club-record nine-game winless streak in 2004 (June 12-July 28).
  • “For me, the players deserved the tie because they played much better in the second half,” Carlos de los Cobos said. “The game was a good game, we tried to find the spaces to penetrate and my players are deserving of the result with the way we played in the second half and could have won the game. We created a lot of options.”
  • The Fire have played to four consecutive draws, one shy of the most in a row within a single season in MLS history, set four times previously (including by the Fire from April 11-May 9, 2009).
  • "For our team to get the tie and earn a point when we were 2-0 down is something to be proud of," Orr Barouch said. "It definitely felt better than the other [draws]. To come back and tie it away from home is a pretty good result for us — we're really happy about that."
  • Barouch scored his first career goal for the equalizer. It came in his seventh career appearance, all as a substitute.
  • "It felt great (to score) and it felt even better that we left Toronto with a point,” Barouch said. "We didn't get the three points, but to come back and tie it was pretty good. It's definitely something we can build off of."
  • In his third consecutive start and the fourth of his MLS career, Corben Bone contributed his first career assist on the game-tying goal.
  • “I’m just feeling more and more comfortable and confident in myself,” Bone said. “I believe in what I can do and think I can play even better the next time, hopefully. I’ve always had the skills I think, I just needed to get a little more comfortable and get the confidence to do it and I think I’m seeing that now.”
  • Alongside Bone, Daniel Paladini had also started three games in a row in a box-to-box midfield role.
  • “Obviously you’ve got to be patient at some points in your career, and I think throughout my whole career, for every team I’ve played on, I’ve had to prove something, work hard and that’s just the way our business is,” Paladini said. “Now I’m taking my opportunity and trying to take advantage of it.”
  • Jon Conway conceded two goals, the most he’d allowed since his first start this season, April 17. He’s started five consecutive games between the posts.
  • “Unfortunately I gaffed as soon as we came out in the second half but I didn't see a drop in the team and we were able to bounce back and get a result,” Conway said. “Technically we probably could have won that game with the chances that we had."
  • The club on Tuesday said it will not pick up the option for on-loan Designated Player Nery Castillo, currently with Greek club Aris FC. “We have that option, but he’s not a guy that fits,” Fire technical director Frank Klopas said.