CHESTER, Pa. – For the second time in eight days, Jack McInerney burned the Fire.
In the back end of a home-and-home series, McInerney scored his league-leading eighth goal of the season to lift the Philadelphia Union to a 1-0 victory over the Chicago Fire on a rainy Saturday evening at PPL Park.
McInerney also netted the only goal in Philly’s 1-0 win over Chicago last Saturday at Toyota Park.
With the result, the Union improve to 5-4-3 on the year, while the reeling Fire fall to 2-7-1.
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McInerney’s goal came in the third minute after defender Bakary Soumare – starting his third straight game at center back for the injured Jeff Parke – played an easy ball out wide to Sebastien Le Toux, who had just taken a corner kick.
Le Toux then delivered a perfect, low cross that found the head of a streaking McInerney at the edge of the six-yard box.
The goal not only increased McInerney’s lead in the MLS Golden Boot race, but also matched his career-high total, which he set last year in 25 games. And the assist was the fourth of the year for Le Toux, which puts him tied for the league lead.
Chicago nearly found the equalizer in the 18th minute but Zac MacMath – who made six saves in last week’s win over the Fire – got a hand on a close-range blast from Patrick Nyarko to deflect it just wide.
MacMath finished with six saves again to earn his second straight shutout win over Chicago – and his third shutout of the season.
One of MacMath’s best stops came in the 60th minute when he jumped to tip a deep Dilly Duka shot over the bar.
The task of overcoming Philly’s lead became considerably more difficult for the Fire when Wells Thompson was shown his second yellow card of the match for pushing down Cruz from behind in the 62nd minute.
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Injured on the play, Cruz – who nearly set up a goal late in the first half with a cross that skidded across the box – was carried off the field and replaced by Keon Daniel, typically a regular starter for Philly.
Up a man, the Union got some chances to go ahead 2-0, especially on a McInerney blast that went just wide in the 66th minute.
But the Fire prevented any more damage and even thought they earned a penalty kick in the 73rd minute after Sheanon Williams dragged down Sherjill MacDonald. Instead, they were given a free kick just outside the box, which second-half sub Conor Casey cleared away to help the Union win their first home match since March 16.
Both teams return to action next Saturday, with the Union traveling to Montreal to take on the Impact and the Fire hitting the road to face Real Salt Lake.
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||Jack McInerney (PHI)||Picked up yet another goal, and was a threat for another on a few occassions. Steady and reliable as always.|
|2||Sebastien Le Toux (PHI)||Pitch-perfect ball to set up McInerney's goal, and solid service all night.|
|3||Dilly Duka (CHI)||A quiet night overall for Chicago's offense, but Duka was their spark. Had the team's best scoring chance.|