The Union put the pressure on in the early moments of the match, with Cory Burke looking lively and positive after returning from a Gold Cup run that ended with a quarterfinal loss against the United States. But somewhat against the run of play, Boris Sekulic put some set-piece-style magic on a diagonal ball into Frankowski. The Polish winger did the rest, putting his head on it and getting it past an unlucky Andre Blake, who also recently arrived from Gold Cup duty with Jamaica.
Then the match turned during a wild series of events just after the half-hour mark. Burke, in pursuit of a leading pass from Alejandro Bedoya, battled with Fire center back Wyatt Omsberg, only for their coming together to send Burke into goalkeeper Bobby Shuttleworth, leaving all three worse for wear atop the box.
After Video Review, the referee determined it was a red-card-worthy foul on Omsberg, who was sent off in the 34th minute. On the ensuing free kick, the Fire set up a wall with Fabian Herbers lying behind it, yet Union left back Wagner whizzed it under the jumping Fire players as Herbers rolled away, sealing an equalizer that both clubs’ fans won’t soon forget.
Burke started the second half pushing forward and engineering chances against the 10-man Fire, hinting a second Union goal was on the horizon. Daniel Gazdag had a prime chance in the 52nd minute, but his close-range header went just wide of Chicago's post.
Both managers then employed some substitution chess, with the Union bringing on Ilsinho for just his first home appearance in more than three months, while the Fire opted for Robert Beric, making his 16th appearance of the season but only his second as a replacement. In the 77th minute, it looked like the Ilsinho sub would pay dividends when Wagner found him unmarked at the far post with a frozen-rope pass, but the super-sub couldn't get enough control on his volley at goal.
Even with 10-plus minutes of extra time and Philadelphia pressing forward to find a match-winner, the Fire hung tough and saw the draw through to the final whistle, securing just their first road point of the 2021 MLS season.
- THE BIG PICTURE: Though it’s a point toward their goal of making the playoffs, Philadelphia will be the more disappointed side, not being able to take advantage of playing 11-on-10 for a prolonged period. While Chicago certainly had opportunities to get the win, getting an away result against a strong Eastern Conference team is a step toward progress.
- MOMENT OF THE MATCH: The equalizing set piece made a dramatic build-up pay off, and even though it didn’t quite create the tide turn that Philadelphia hoped for, it was still a well-struck free kick that was harder than it looked.
- MAN OF THE MATCH: Though Shuttleworth deserves mention just for soldiering on in a match where he was lying on the ground three different times, plus contributing a key save in stoppage time, it’s got to be Wagner – not just for his strike, but for sound attempts to create a second goal, both with key passes and shots.