BRIDGEVIEW, Ill. – The Philadelphia Union put a serious crimp in the Chicago Fire’s plans for home-field advantage in the postseason, outclassing the home side on Wednesday night in a 3-1 victory at Toyota Park.
And it happened almost from the start, with a fired up Union putting Chicago on their heels from the whistle.
They found net in the seventh minute when Union forward Danny Cruz found Jack McInerney with a through pass that split the Fire defense. McInerny beat goalkeeper Sean Johnson to score his team-leading sixth goal of the season.
Chicago gradually came back into the game game, and nearly found the equalizer when midfielder Daniel Paladini’s free kick pinged off the post in the 19th minute. Just past the half-hour, the Fire got another look as Chris Rolfe got loose in the box, but his shot was parried wide by Zac MacMath.
Philly put the pedal down in the second half behind substitute Gabriel Gómez. The midfielder doubled the Philadelphia lead in the 67thth minute, when he drove a line-drive shot into the upper 90 off a nice headed flick from McInerney.
Chicago answered two minutes later, though, as Dominic Oduro settled a pass from Patrick Nyarko and poked a dribbling shot through Sheanon Williams’ legs and past MacMath.
The Fire, desperate to pull ahead of New York for second in the East, threw all their offensive options at the Union, putting Oduro, Guillermo Franco and Alex into the game while leaving Rolfe and fellow forward Sherjill MacDonald in.
It wasn’t enough, especially after Franco received a red card in the 79th minute for a high tackle on Brian Carroll.
The Fire had one last chance, when Patrick Nyarko stole the ball from Raymon Gaddis inside the penalty area, but Alex’s shot was blocked.
With Chicago pushing forward, Michael Farfan found Antoine Hoppenot for a back-heel into an open goal in the 86th minute.
The Fire have scored just one goal in two losses in the last six days, while the Union have scored eight goals in their last three, winning twice.
The win was Philadelphia’s first on the road since July 4. They’ll try to continue their hot offensive run when they host New England on Saturday.
The Fire hadn’t lost at home since July 8. They’re now third in the East behind New York on total goals, and remain just five points ahead of sixth-place Columbus with three games left. Chicago will head to New York on Saturday to try to break the deadlock with the Red Bulls.
MLSsoccer.com Men of the Match
|Rank||Player||What We Saw|
|1||Jack McInerney||He got three chances to impact the game, and walked away with one goal scored and one created. Can't ask for more than that from a center forward.|
|2||Gabriel Gómez||Looked at home playing higher in the midfield, and scored a golazo for the game-winner. Opportunistic in attack and ever-present in defense.|
|3||Brian Carroll||Steady as always. He's playing some of his best soccer of his career these days, and nobody benefits more than the attackers in front of him.|