CHESTER, Pa. – After the Philadelphia Union defeated the Chicago Fire in the US Open Cup semifinals Wednesday, the two clubs met again in the same venue just four days later.
And while it was an entertaining goal-filled affair, neither team could claim rematch supremacy – despite both sides desperately needing three points to climb into the Eastern Conference playoff race – in a 3-3 draw Sunday night at PPL Park.
It wasn’t for lack of trying, though, with Chicago goalkeeper Sean Johnson standing on his head in the final minutes and two goals being scored after the 89th minute.
The Union thought they found the winner in the 90th when Sebastien Le Toux finally solved Johnson and rolled one inside the far post to put Philly up 3-2 and send the PPL crowd into a state of euphoria.
But the Fire struck back just moments later on a Kennedy Igboananike goal, his second of the game, off an assist from second-half substitute Mike Magee – after the Union protested what they thought were a couple of missed calls.
Igboananike added an assist to go with his brace and Patrick Nyarko had a goal and an assist for the Fire (6-12-5), who remain winless on the road this season and in last place in the East.
For the Union (6-13-6), who are winless in their last five league games to remain just a point ahead of the Fire in ninth place, Cristian Maidana had three assists to pass Sporting KC’s Benny Feilhaber for the league lead with 14. But the Argentine playmaker had a potential go-ahead goal in the 81st minute saved by Johnson, who made another huge stop on C.J. Sapong moments later.
Johnson again came up big in the 86th minute with a fantastic diving save on Richie Marquez off a Union corner kick, which was followed by a remarkable double-save on Brian Carroll and Le Toux a minute later.
After the Fire opened an early 1-0 lead, the Union battled back to score twice before halftime and take a 2-1 advantage into the break.
The equalizer came in the 21st minute when the Union scored just their third goal off a corner kick this season as Aristeguieta got his foot on the end of a ball from Maidana.
The goal was the first since April 5 for Aristeguieta, who got the start up top in place of Sapong – one of several regulars for both teams who were given some rest Sunday.
Ten minutes later, Maidana again set up another goal, leading a counterattack and playing a ball out wide to Fabinho, who took one dribble and fired one into the net – with the help of a Lovel Palmer deflection.
It was just the second league goal of the Brazilian left back’s three-year career with Philly.
The Fire’s first-half goal came in the 10th minute when Igboananike touched home a perfect one-bounce cross from Nyarko.
Igboananike returned the favor in the 54th minute, beating Ray Gaddis to the end line and playing a cross to Nyarko, who deposited his second goal of the year to tie the game at 2-2.
Earlier, the Union thought they deserved a 23rd-minute penalty when Joevin Jones was whistled for a handball just outside the box with replays showing the infraction may have happened inside the box. Johnson then made a great save to prevent Maidana from scoring on the ensuing close-range free kick.
Johnson finished with eight saves for the game.
The Union return to action next Saturday at Montreal, while the Fire return home to welcome the Colorado Rapids.
Dave Zeitlin covers the Union for MLSsoccer.com. Email him at email@example.com.