CHESTER, Pa. – Paced by a Chris Rolfe brace and the first goal of the year from Arne Friedrich, the Chicago Fire scored three unanswered goals to top hosts Philadelphia Union, 3-1, at PPL Park on Sunday night.
Things looked promising for the Union when they 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.
Hoffman, who was making just his second career start, celebrated like he scored, but the goal was initially credited to Adu before being changed to an own goal.
The Fire made up for the miscue, however, by scoring twice into the right net before the halftime whistle blew.
Their first came in the 43rd minute when Chicago DP Sherjill MacDonald beat center back Bakary Soumaré to the end line and crossed it to Rolfe for the one-time finish. The game marked MacDonald’s first start for Chicago and was also the Union debut for Soumaré, who played for Chicago from 2007-2009 before going overseas and then returning to MLS with Philly in late June.
HIGHLIGHTS: PHI vs CHI
The Fire struck again in first-half stoppage time when Friedrich headed home a Marco Pappa corner kick just inside the near post to make it 2-1 headed into the halftime break.
And they 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 goalie Zac MacMath’s hand and into the back of the net.
The Fire could have easily padded the score even more but MacMath made a big save on a MacDonald breakaway in the 60th minute, Soumaré blocked a close-range blast from Alvaro Fernandez four minutes later, and MacDonald shot one just high two minutes after that.
The Union, who put in strikers Antoine Hoppenot, Lionard Pajoy and Josue Martinez in the second half, also created some real scoring chances of their own, none greater than Michael Farfan’s shot that pinged off the post in the 62nd minute. But they couldn’t find the breakthrough they were looking for.
With the win, the Fire improve to 11-7-5 on the season and move into a second-place tie with the New York Red Bulls in the Eastern Conference.
The Union, meanwhile, drop to 7-12-2, losing their second straight game and falling further out of the playoff picture.
The Union return to action Sunday with a road match against rival D.C. United, while the Fire host New England on Saturday.
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||Chris Rolfe||A breakout performance for the veteran in the trequartista role. He finally looks settled, and punished Philly for their mistakes.|
|2||Arne Friedrich||Even without the goal he would have been on this list. Friedrich is brilliant at snuffing out danger before it ever really starts.|
|3||Michael Farfan||Should have come away with a goal if not for the fickle nature of the soccer gods. Dangerous every time he touched the ball.|