The Philadelphia Union inched closer to their first-ever trophy with a 2-1 win over the Chicago Fire on Wednesday night at Subaru Park, giving them a three-point lead in the Supporters' Shield race with just two matches remaining. A victory in their next match would virtually clinch the silverware awarded to the best regular season team.
The Union outlasted the early dominance from the Fire and eventually took the lead in the 28th minute through a penalty. Chicago's Francisco Calvo conceded the penalty by committing a handball infraction in the box, and the Union's Kacper Przybylko converted for his first goal in five matches. Matters got worse for the Fire and Calvo just eight minutes later, when the defender received a red card for violent conduct against Alejandro Bedoya.
The Fire were able to get back in the game before halftime through Robert Beric, who scored his 10th goal of the season. Ignacio Aliseda's shot was initially saved by goalkeeper Andre Blake, but Djordje Mihailovic chased the rebound, sending it to Beric, who nodded home near the goal line.
The Union managed to regain their composure at the start of the second half in search of a second goal. The hosts were eventually rewarded through substitute Cory Burke. Brenden Aaronson won the ball near the penalty area and sent it towards Olivier Mbaizo, who then crossed it to Burke in the box. Burke headed it in for his first goal of the season.
Both teams had their attempts to score more, but the Fire came as close as they could to scoring an equalizer in stoppage time, forcing the Union into a goal-line clearance. In the end, though, the Union held on for their third win in a row, giving them a three-point lead at the top of the table. The Fire, meanwhile, remain on the outside looking in of the playoff picture, sitting in 11th place in the East.
- 28' - PHI - Kacper Przybylko (PK) | WATCH
- 42' - CHI - Robert Beric | WATCH
- 65' - PHI - Cory Burke | WATCH
- THE BIG PICTURE: It was not a perfect day for the Union, but they were able to grind out a victory against a Fire team that were fairly even with them for the majority of the match. The Fire will be disappointed to go home without a point, but they put on a performance that gives them a chance to dream of the postseason. Chicago are in a three-way tie for the final playoff spot in the East, but they're on the outside looking in based on a tiebreaker. They still have a game in hand on Inter Miami and D.C. United.
- MOMENT OF THE MATCH: Cory Burke's gamewinner was also his first goal of the season, and was a true team goal with Brenden Aaronson and Olivier Mbaizo each recording assists.
- MAN OF THE MATCH: Kacper Przybylko got back to scoring ways on Wednesday, scoring the Union's first goal via penalty as part of an active shift in attack, recording three shots in his 87-minute shift.