BRIDGEVIEW, Ill. — A debut goal from new midfielder Pável Pardo couldn’t get the Chicago Fire a win over the Philadelphia Union Wednesday night, as the Eastern Conference foes played to a 1-1 draw in front of 10,557 at Toyota Park.
The Union took the lead first via a 30-yard left-footed rocket from Veljko Paunovic in the first half, before Pardo evened the proceedings in the second half.
Chicago changed their formation to accommodate new midfielders Pardo and Sebastián Grazzini, playing in a 4-5-1 for the first time under interim head coach Frank Klopas. The new look worked well in the opening minutes, with the Fire moving well and controlling the early stages.
Grazzini, who was making his league debut, came close to finding the back of the net in the 10th minute. The Argentine midfielder dribbled in from the right sideline and curled a long distance left-footer just over the left upper 90.
The Fire had another dangerous shot from distance in the 19th, with winger Marco Pappa firing a hard 25-yard volley to the near post that Union goalie Faryd Mondragón did well to keep out.
Forward Dominic Oduro should’ve been in for a one-on-one in the 31st. Pardo played a gorgeous long ball over the top, but Oduro, who was all alone at the top of the box, couldn’t control the pass and the ball bounced harmlessly to Mondragón.
Chicago’s dominance came to an end in the 35th minute, when Philadelphia's Paunovic scored completely against the run of play. The forward picked up a loose ball about 30 yards from goal, took a touch and ripped a left-footed effort into the lower left corner.
Neither team came out of the break playing particularly strong, but a fortunate bounce and an opportunistic strike by Pardo put the Fire on the board in the 54th minute. The Union cleared a Nyarko cross to the top of the box and Pardo ran onto it, hitting a low shot into the left corner for his first career MLS goal.
Both teams created a flurry of chances in the minutes following Pardo’s goal. Union defender Carlos Valdés should’ve put Philly back on top in the 57th, but failed to keep his free header under the bar from six yards out.
The Fire countered Valdés’ opportunity with a chance of their own via Oduro, who had a good look in the 61st when he ran onto a Pappa through ball in the right side of the box but had his hard shot stopped by Mondragón.
Oduro had an even better opportunity in the 66th. Pappa played him through in the right side of the box again, but this time, Oduro was unmarked. He looked poised to give the Fire the lead, but he was no match for Mondragón, who came out quickly to block the close range chip.
Oduro’s chance was the last real opportunity of the game, as both teams clamped down in the final 25 minutes.
Fire defender Cory Gibbs left the game in the 6th minute with a lower left leg injury. He was replaced by Jalil Anibaba.
Both teams are back in action this weekend, with Philadelphia returning home to host face the Houston Dynamo on Saturday night, and Chicago traveling to the Pacific Northwest to take on Vancouver on Sunday evening.
PHI -- Veljko Paunovic 2 (unassisted) 34
CHI -- Pavel Pardo 1 (unassisted) 54
PHI -- Brian Carroll (caution; Tactical Foul) 35
CHI -- Logan Pause (caution; Tactical Foul) 85
Philadelphia Union -- Faryd Mondragon, Michael Farfan, Danny Califf, Carlos Valdes, Gabriel Farfan, Justin Mapp (Keon Daniel 87), Brian Carroll, Stefani Miglioranzi, Roger Torres (Danny Mwanga 61), Sebastien Le Toux, Veljko Paunovic (Kyle Nakazawa 75).
Substitutes Not Used: Jack McInerney, Amobi Okugo, Ryan Richter, Zac MacMath.
Chicago Fire -- Sean Johnson, Logan Pause, Josip Mikulic, Cory Gibbs (Jalil Anibaba 6), Gonzalo Segares, Marco Pappa, Daniel Paladini, Sebastian Grazzini (Cristian Nazarit 66), Pavel Pardo, Patrick Nyarko (Diego Chaves 82), Dominic Oduro.
Substitutes Not Used: Orr Barouch, Dan Gargan, Baggio Husidic, Jon Conway.
Referee: Michael Kennedy
Referee's Assistants: -Bill Dittmar; Kermit Quisenberry
4th Official: Matthew Foerster
Time of Game: 1:52