Photo Cred: Philadelphia Union
McGlynn, Gazdag, Martinez, Bedoya
Harriel, Elliott, Glesnes, Mbaizo
Mueller, Gutierrez, Haile-Selassie
Navarro, Czichos, Teran, Souquet
First Half Summary
After a hard-fought battle in Mexico, the Boys travelled to Chicago for their next MLS match. Considering the short turnaround, I was expecting a makeshift lineup, but Jim proved me wrong. We went with our usual group of starters except for two changes. Jack McGlynn earned the start on the left of the diamond. Nathan Harriel and Mbaizo saw the field together again, as Kai Wagner is still nursing the hamstring injury (which he tweaked a bit on Wednesday). The biggest surprise, however, was on the bench. Leon Flach was not placed into the lineup. After the match, Jim confirmed the rumor that Leon was injured. According to Curtin, Flach will need an injection in his hip and a time table is uncertain at this point.
Both clubs had their chances in the first 10 minutes. Gazdag found Uhre on a breakaway, but Mikael's angle wasn't good enough to test Brady. McGlynn also had a chance to beat the keeper, but his volley didn't force Brady into a difficult save. The Fire's chance, however, was much more spectacular. Souquet controlled the ball from the Chicago side of the field, and with Andre off his line, he tried to sneak one in from long distance. The shot did not miss by much as it landed on top of Blake's net.
The Fire didn't take long for their chances to find the back of the goal. In the 20th minute, the home squad crossed the ball from left to right. Somehow, the ball went all the way across the box, untouched by the center backs, and found Haile-Selassie alone in front of net. When watching the replay, you can see Nathan running in front of Haile-Selassie, but he isn't in the right position to make the clearance. Not something you'd expect from Kai, which then also makes you wonder if Matt Real would have done better in his usual position.
Although Philly did enough to keep Chicago from scoring their second, they didn't have a surge of energy after going down a goal. I have to imagine that the usual starters are exhausted, which makes me question Jim's lineup. Why isn't Perea starting, could Quinn have gotten a start, or maybe a formation change to fit in the reserves? You would hope that Jim begins to rest some of these players who have been playing each match. We still have a long way to go, with Leagues Cup and Open Cup right around the corner.
Even after Kamara and Bedoya went down for some time, the head official only provided 4 minutes of stoppage time. The Boys went into the locker room down 1-0.
Second Half Summary
The Union came out of the break with the same formation, and unfortunately, they started the second half in the worst way. Jakob took control of the ball in the Philly box and tried clearing it out. Nathan Harriel was directly in front of him, and the ball ricocheted right off Nathan's back. Somehow, it sailed over Andre Blake and right into the net. It just seemed like one of those nights for the Union....and then the tables turned....
Chicago looked like they would hit cruise control as we closed in on the 60th minute. After the Union put together a string of passes and possession, Mikael Uhre was brought down from behind inside the box. As expected, Daniel Gazdag stepped up and put the Union on the board.
Jim Curtin then made his first changes. Matt Real replaced Mbaizo, and Nathan switched to the right. Quinn Sullivan (who looked awesome in Cincinnati) came on for Mikael Uhre. It was then immediate offense from the Union. Sullivan did well to keep possession and work his way down the left side. He then sent a perfect cross into the box, where Daniel's header found the foot of Carranza. 2-2 in Chicago. This team looked dead before the Gazdag goal, and it's clear that Quinn adds a spark off the bench that the club needs. What an outstanding goal.
The final half hour then became an absolute frenzy. Both clubs hit the cross bar during their attacks at net. Jose Martinez ricocheted a missile off the corner of the post, while a Koutsias shot somehow caught the bottom of the bar and went into the hands of Blake. The Union, however, finally looked like the relentless team from 2022. They continued to string together passes and kept Brady on his toes to close out the match.
The energy was felt on the sidelines as well. As the final minutes were coming to an end, the ball went out by Curtin. He then gently tossed the ball around before putting it back in play, which the Fire players did not take kindly to. Brujo and Daniel then came to Curtin's side as words were exchanged, but Jim earned himself a yellow for his antics. The animosity continued after the match too, as more players and coaches had to be separated while they walked to the locker room.
After six minutes of stoppage time and a Jesus Bueno sighting (for McGlynn), the final whistle blew. The Union fought valiantly against Atlas, and they showed the same type of fight in Chicago. They are still, however, a work in progress. The Union have struggled to keep opponents off the board in the first half, and the injury bug keeps popping up for Philly. They now have a full week to go before hosting Toronto, so you hope that the Boys in Blue can carry some of this momentum into Saturday night.
- Mike Barrera (mbarrera1323)