CHESTER, Pa. – Mike Magee’s scoring surge continued, and so did the Chicago Fire’s climb up the standings.
In a key matchup between Eastern Conference teams battling for playoff position, Magee buried the game-winner to lift the Fire (8-9-4) to a 2-1 win over the host Philadelphia Union (9-7-7) on Saturday evening at PPL Park.
The goal was Magee’s eighth in 10 league matches since getting traded to the Fire by the Galaxy and was his 14th of the season, pushing him ahead of Vancouver’s Camilo Sanvezzo for sole possession of the MLS Golden Boot lead.
More importantly, it broke a 1-1 deadlock in the 75h minute as Magee beat sliding Union goalkeeper Zac MacMath with a top-shelf blast after receiving a sharp ball from Patrick Nyarko.
Earlier, Nyarko put the Fire up 1-0 in the ninth minute with his fourth goal of the season. The goal was set up by a low Joel Lindpere cross that sailed across the box and finished with a rocket of a shot from Nyarko that beat MacMath to the far post.
It also ended a Union shutout streak of 265 minutes.
Union defender Sheanon Williams knotted the game at 1-1 in the 60th minute on one of Philly’s weirdest goals of the season. Following a Sebastien Le Toux cross, Williams went for a header but ended up using what appeared to be the back of his foot while on the ground to beat Fire goalkeeper Sean Johnson.
Williams’ goal came as the Union, after a mostly quiet first half, peppered the Chicago net. Conor Casey sent a shot just wide in the 46th minute and Le Toux was stoned by Johnson in the 54th minute, after receiving a terrific through ball from second-half sub Fabinho, who came on for injured left back Ray Gaddis.
In the 65th minute, five minutes after Williams’ equalizer, Johnson made another brilliant save to tip an Amobi Okugo header over the bar. And just moments after that, as the Union attempted four straight corner kicks, defender Jeff Parke had a shot destined for goal that was blocked off the line by Fire midfielder Alex.
A last-gasp blast from Okugo went just wide in stoppage time as the Fire held on for the hard-fought victory, avoiding the season sweep vs. Philly while handing the Union their first home loss since May 15.
MacMath also got in on the big-save action for the Union, using his foot to stop a close-range blast from Dilly Duka and then catching a shot from a wide-open Quincy Amarikwa in stoppage time.
Neither team had too many scoring chances before the break. One of Philly’s best first-half opportunities came in the 25th minute when leading scorer Jack McInerney stumbled, snuck through a couple of Fire defenders and had a shot blocked by former teammate Bakary Soumare, who was playing his first game at PPL Park since getting traded by the Union in mid-May.
The Philadelphia Union are back in action next Saturday with a home match against last-place D.C. United, while the Fire return home to welcome the Montreal Impact the same day.
Dave Zeitlin covers the Union for MLSsoccer.com. Email him at email@example.com.
MLSsoccer.com Men of the Match
|Rank||Player||What We Saw|
|1||Mike Magee||Robbie Keane is right: This guy belongs with the US national team.|
|2||Sean Johnson||Still makes the insane saves, but has added a dose of maturity and composure in his fourth season.|
|3||Fabinho||His attacking verve was evident, as was his defensive intensity. Spurred Philly's best 30 minutes.|