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Final

Preview: Playoff berth within reach as Fire host Union


CHICAGO FIRE vs PHILADELPHIA UNION
TOYOTA PARK, Bridgeview, Ill.
October 3, 2012 (WEEK 31, MLS Game #293)
7:30 p.m. CT (NBC5.2; TCN-Phi)
 
Looking to secure their first postseason berth in three seasons, the Chicago Fire return home for a midweek encounter with Philadelphia Union on Wednesday evening at Toyota Park. The Fire had their first chance to clinch a spot foiled last weekend, with a 2-0 loss at Sporting Kansas City that ended a four-game winning streak. Union were officially eliminated from playoff contention as a result of their late 3-2 loss at the Columbus Crew.
 
 
REFEREE: Abbey Okulaja. SAR (bench): Kermit Quisenberry-- JAR (opposite): Peter Manikowski-- 4th: Edvin Jurisevic
 
MLS Career: 116 games; FC/gm: 26.6; Y/gm: 3.2; R: 19; pens: 26
 
INJURY REPORT
  • CHICAGO FIRE – OUT: DF Cory Gibbs (R knee meniscus repair); QUESTIONABLE: MF Pavel Pardo (L calf tightness) …
  • PHILADELPHIA UNION – OUT: DF Bakary Soumare (R knee menisectomy recovery); DOUBTFUL: FW Krystian Witkowski (concussion symptoms); QUESTIONABLE: MF Michael Farfan (R foot contusion/L knee contusion); MF Danny Cruz (L big toe sesamoid stress fracture/R calf strain); MF Freddy Adu (L quad strain); PROBABLE: DF Gabriel Farfan (R ankle contusion); MF Keon Daniel (R knee contusion)
 
INTERNATIONAL ABSENCES: none
 
SUSPENDED: CHI: Gonzalo Segares (through Oct. 3); Frank Klopas (head coach; through Oct. 3)
WARNINGS:
  • SUSPENDED NEXT YELLOW CARD: CHI: Pavel Pardo, Gonzalo Segares … PHI: Gabriel Gomez, Sheanon Williams
  • SUSPENDED AFTER TWO YELLOW CARDS: CHI: Sebastian Grazzini, Patrick Nyarko, Dominic Oduro, Arne Friedrich … PHI: Gabriel Farfan, Brian Carroll, Michael Lahoud, Jack McInerney, Carlos Valdes, Michael Farfan
HEAD-TO-HEAD
 
ALL-TIME (6 meetings): Union 2 wins, 6 goals … Fire 3 wins, 8 goals … Ties 1
  • AT CHICAGO (3 meetings): Union 0 wins, 2 goals … Fire 2 wins, 4 goals … Ties 1
  • 2012 (MLS): 3/24: CHI 1, PHI 0 (Oduro 28); 8/12: PHI 1, CHI 3 (own goal 34 – Rolfe 43, 56; Friedrich 47+)
  • The teams are meeting for the third time this season, and the Fire have won the first two. A Dominic Oduro goal was the difference in a Chicago 1-0 win March 24, and Chris Rolfe scored twice in the Fire’s 3-1 victory Aug. 12.
  • The Fire win in the first meeting snapped a three-game winless streak vs. Union, since a 2-1 win in the first meeting ever between the clubs.
  • Coaches record: John Hackworth vs. CHI: P0 W0 L1 T0 … Frank Klopas vs. PHI: P3 W2 L0 T1
 
LAST MEETING (MLS):
 
8/12: PHI 1, CHI 3 (own goal 34 – Rolfe 43, 56; Friedrich 47+)

HIGHLIGHTS: PHI vs CHI

  • Union took a 1-0 lead in the 34th minute after a long cross from Freddy Adu sailed just over the head of rookie Chandler Hoffman and bounced off Chicago defender Jalil Anibaba and into the net for an own goal.
  • But the Fire struck back with two goals into the right net before the halftime whistle blew. Their first came in the 43rd minute when Sherjill MacDonald beat center back Bakary Soumaré to the end line and crossed it to Chris Rolfe for a one-time finish.
  • The Fire struck again in first-half stoppage time when center back Arne Friedrich headed home a Marco Pappa corner kick just inside the near post.
  • The visitors built their lead to a commanding 3-1 in the 56th minute when Rolfe netted his second goal of the game – and fourth of the season – after dribbling downfield and blasting a shot from distance off Union goalkeeper Zac MacMath’s hand and into the back of the net.
  • PHILADELPHIA UNION (4-2-3-1): Zac MacMath - Sheanon Williams, Bakary Soumare, Amobi Okugo, Raymon Gaddis (Lionard Pajoy 62) - Brian Carroll, Gabriel Farfan - Freddy Adu (Antoine Hoppenot 46), Michael Farfan, Keon Daniel - Chandler Hoffman (Josue Martinez 69).
  • CHICAGO FIRE (4-2-3-1): Sean Johnson - Jalil Anibaba, Arne Friedrich, Austin Berry, Gonzalo Segares - Pavel Pardo, Logan Pause (Patrick Nyarko 44) - Alvaro Fernandez, Chris Rolfe, Marco Pappa (Alex 62) - Sherjill MacDonald (Michael Videira 70).
 
CHICAGO FIRE
 
The Chicago Fire saw their winning streak come to an end after four games, dropping a 2-0 decision to Sporting Kansas City on Friday evening at Livestrong Sporting Park. The Fire are in a tie for second place in the Eastern Conference with 53 points from 30 games.
 
LAST MATCH
  • Sporting took the lead in the 11th minute. Kei Kamara sent a cross into the penalty area from the right corner, and Graham Zusi, crossing from the left side, one-timed the ball into the lower right corner.
  • The Fire went a man down when left back Gonzalo Segares drew his second yellow, and Chicago manager Frank Klopas was also shown a straight red by referee Chris Penso.
  • Zusi applied the coup de grace six minutes into second-half stoppage time. As Chicago pushed up in search of the equalizer, he juked his way into position, then fired just inside the right post from the top of the area.
  • Sporting KC goalkeeper Jimmy Nielsen had to make just one save all night, an easy stop of Dominic Oduro's set-piece header in the 68th minute.
  • Fire head coach Frank Klopas made no changes to his team for a second consecutive match, maintaining the group that came back for a 2-1 win against the Columbus Crew at Toyota Park.
  • CHICAGO FIRE (4-2-3-1): Sean Johnson - Jalil Anibaba, Arne Friedrich, Austin Berry, Gonzalo Segares (sent off 94+) - Alex (Dominic Oduro 61), Logan Pause (Daniel Paladini 80) - Alvaro Fernandez, Chris Rolfe, Patrick Nyarko (Guillermo Franco 71) - Sherjill MacDonald.
TEAM NEWS
  • The Fire lost for just the second time in the last 10 games, both of losses coming away from Toyota Park. After the Philadelphia match, the Fire face trips to New York and New England before ending the season at home vs. D.C. United.
  • “You’re playing on the road and it’s never easy. I think the opportunities at this point in the season are few. We had that one great opportunity at the start, and if we had put that in, it could have changed the game,” said Fire manager Frank Klopas. “They are pushing up and now they’re chasing the game instead of the other way around. It’s difficult when you’re on the road and you’re chasing the game. You have to push to get open and take risks to move forward.”
  • The Fire missed an opportunity to secure their place in the MLS Cup Playoffs with the victory, and cannot clinch a spot just with a victory vs. Philadelphia. The Fire have not reached the postseason for the last two seasons.
  • “We didn’t want to put too much focus or too much pressure on ourselves, but it was a playoff atmosphere against a playoff team,” defender Austin Berry said. “It was a good experience for the younger players like myself to see what it’s like for the first time this season.”
  • The Fire were shut out in attack for the first time since a 1-0 loss to New York on July 18. They had scored multiple goals in eight consecutive matches.
  • “We gave them too much in the first half by sitting back and trying to contain the pressure. We made a big mistake doing that and giving them the early goal,” said Patrick Nyarko. “We learned a lot from this game and going forward we aren’t going to give as much respect to other teams. We are going to attack and play our game next time. We know we can score goals. We are going to take it to our opponents.”
  • Said Arne Friedrich: “In the second half we changed our attitude and strategy. We were more offensive and our play was completely different. In my eyes the problem today was the first half and it was too late in the second half. We have to learn from this game but it’s OK to lose sometimes. We shouldn’t be scared going into the playoffs. We have to be confident.”
  • Klopas ran out the same starting XI for a third consecutive match, something he hadn’t done all season.
  • “It’s deep in the season and we are clicking and the play is really fluid,” said defender Austin Berry. “We were unfortunate today, we sat back and they were able to get that early goal and dictate the first half. We just have to move on and learn from it.”
PHILADELPHIA UNION
 
Philadelphia Union had their road winless run extended to six games, the Columbus Crew netting a late winner for a 3-2 victory on Saturday evening at Crew Stadium. Union are in seventh place in the Eastern Conference with 30 points from 29 games.
 
LAST MATCH
  • The Crew were ahead at halftime thanks to a pair of quick goals late in the opening stanza, both from Jairo Arrieta. First, in the 45th minute, Arrieta got on the end of a drilled cross from right back Sebastián Miranda, chested the ball to the ground six yards left of goal and finished neatly.
  • Then, five minutes into stoppage time, a long goal kick from Crew goalkeeper Andy Gruenebaum was misjudged by the Union defense and Arrieta quick to gather it at the top of the penalty area before unleashing another left-footed shot that went past Union goalkeeper Zac MacMath.
  • Union pulled a goal back in the 65th minute when Danny Cruz converted a penalty kick awarded after Gruenebaum took down substitute Antoine Hoppenot. Then another Union substitute, Jack McInerney, got on the end of a pass from fellow second-half addition Roger Torres in the 86th minute to tie the score, sticking his foot out and pushing the ball inside the left post.
  • But barely a minute later, the Crew hit for the winner. After the ball pinged around the Union penalty area, a sliding pass from Josh Williams found Milovan Mirosevic in front of goal and he slotted home, and despite a hint of offside, the goal stood for the late winner.
  • Union manager John Hackworth made one change to the team that rolled to a 3-1 win against the Houston Dynamo at PPL Park. Gabriel Farfan came into the team in place of Freddy Adu.
  • PHILADELPHIA UNION (4-2-3-1): Zac MacMath - Raymon Gaddis, Carlos Valdes, Amobi Okugo, Sheanon Williams - Michael Lahoud, Brian Carroll - Danny Cruz (Roger Torres 81), Michael Farfan, Gabriel Farfan (Jack McInerney 66) - Josue Martinez (Antoine Hoppenot 57).
TEAM NEWS
  • With the loss, Union were officially eliminated from playoff contention for the 2012 MLS Cup Playoffs.
  • “We’re still making too many little mistakes and we’ve got to clean that up,” Union team manager John Hackworth said. “We’ve got to improve and build toward next year. Obviously we’re out of it at this point but we have a tough next five games coming up and we’ve just got to make sure we do the same things we have and hopefully build some momentum going into next year.”
  • Jack McInerney pulled into a tie for the Union team lead with his fifth goal of the season. All five of his goals this season have come since June 23, when he was installed into the starting lineup after Hackworth took over as manager.
  • “I think we have to progress for next year, get better. We've got a lot of players that can play different positions and I think we can find a team that can put a win out there every night,” said McInerney.
  • Danny Cruz scored his first goal since coming to Union in a trade with D.C. United, converting a penalty kick.
  • Roger Torres collected his first assist since the second game of the season, putting in the cross for McInerney to put home. Torres was making his seventh appearance of the season.
  • Hackworth made three changes to his starting team, and all three were involved in the comeback from two goals down. McInerney and Torres combined for the second goal, and the third substitute, Antoine Hoppenot, was taken down for the penalty kick.
  • “The players at halftime knew we shouldn’t be down 2-0,” Hackworth said. “It’s the first thing we all talked about in there. The last thing [we talked about] was that we knew we could go out there and get two goals. To their credit, they did that. It’s just a shame we didn’t get a fair result in the end.”
  • Said midfielder Brian Carroll: “We just finally started creating some opportunities a little bit in a little bit bigger holes. The guys did a good job drawing a PK, Jack [McInerney] getting into dangerous spots. It just started to open up for us. We finished those chances that we were creating in the first half. It's unlucky, unfortunate. It feels just as bad.”
  • After missing a match for the first time since May 19, Gabriel Farfan returned to the Union lineup, replacing the injured Freddy Adu.
  • “Our team’s in good spirits,” Hackworth said. “Our character’s been good. We’re working hard, we’re working efficiently and guys are not shying away from any of that. It’s a good group of guys to work with. They come every single day prepared. We continue to improve here and there but we’ve got to keep going.”