BRIDGEVIEW, Ill. – Another game, another tie for the Chicago Fire. Juan Luis Ananganó was the unlikely hero as the hosts recovered from 2-1 down against the Philadelphia Union to record their fourth tie of the season in front of 12,699 at sun-drenched Toyota Park.
The Fire deservedly took the lead in the 16th minute when Mike Magee swept home left-footed from close range after Quincy Amarikwa had dispossessed Amobi Okugo on the left before keeping calm and squaring invitingly for the reigning MLS MVP.
That was no more than the hosts deserved after an industrious opening saw them dominate possession and pin the Union back time and time again, without ever seriously testing Zac MacMath in the Union goal.
The energetic Amarikwa was proving a handful and helped force two corners in quick succession around the 20th minute, following which Magee headed wide from a third when he should have done better.
Sean Johnson had looked pretty comfortable in the Fire net until the 32nd minute when the visitors struck for a fortuitous equalizer against the run of play. Vincent Nogueira picked up the ball outside the area and his right-footed drive was deflected by Jhon Kennedy Hurtado into the path of Maurice Edu, allowing the Union man the simplest of finishes past the Fire ’keeper.
Less than seven minutes later and the Union held a one-goal edge. Leonardo Fernandes’ dangerous, left-footed in-swinging free-kick from the right evaded everyone in a crowded Fire area to give the Union a 2-1 lead at the break.
A lack-luster opening to the second half saw both sides create little in front of goal. Amarikwa almost leveled for Chicago on the hour when he nearly prodded Lovel Palmer’s shot home, only for MacMath to deny him from point blank range.
Eight minutes later, Johnson breathed a huge sigh of relief when he delayed a clearance before striking the ball against Nogueira and gathering at the second attempt with the ball rebounding towards his unguarded net.
Anangonó played a pivotal role in the late equalizer, rising highest to head Magee’s deep free kick past MacMath and into the back of the net with just four minutes remaining. The Fire could have won it at the death in the sixth minute of second-half stoppage time, but Magee saw his penalty, and follow-up, saved by MacMath after Anangonó had been fouled in the area by Aaron Wheeler.
Both sides next take the field April 12. Chicago head to Montreal to battle the Impact while the Union head back home to host Real Salt Lake.
MLSsoccer.com Men of the Match
|Rank||Player||What We Saw|
|1||Mike Magee||The Fire striker netted his first goal of the campaign and followed that by setting up Anangono for the equalizer late. Had he hit the PK, it would have been a perfect match.|
|2||Aaron Wheeler||Was a nuisance for the Fire strikers most the match. His penalty late nearly cost the Union a point.|
|3||Quincy Amarikwa||Set up Magee on the opening goal and was a consistent threat to the Union's back line.|