The Philadelphia Union (9-7-7) fell to the Chicago Fire, 2-1 Saturday night at PPL Park as a second-half goal from defender Sheanon Williams wasn’t enough to overcome Chicago goals from Patrick Nyarko and Mike Magee.
The loss snapped a six match unbeaten streak at home and was the Union’s first loss in league play in nearly a month.
“We knew Chicago would come and give us a really good game; they’re a pretty good team,” Team Manager John Hackworth said after the match. “It was never going to be easy, but to go down a goal and come back and then lose another goal, we felt like we had out foot on the gas a little bit. But losing the way we did was really unfortunate.”
It was the Fire (8-9-4, 28 points) that got on the board first courtesy of a Nyarko goal in the ninth minute, but an equalizer at the hour mark of the match from defender Sheanon Williams found the Union draw level. Williams scored with what appeared to be a head/heel combo inside the six, finishing off a ball in from Sebastien Le Toux in the 60th minute. Le Toux’ helper marked his 10th of the season, a league high in assists.
But Chicago forward Mike Magee padded his chance to win MLS’ Golden Boot, scoring the game winner in the 75th minute after the Fire pounced on a turnover in the midfield. Nyarko slotted a through ball to Magee who pounded a shot past MacMath for his 14th goal of the season – a league high.
“It’s a tough one. I don’t think the team came out the way we should have in the first half,” said MacMath, who finished with three saves. “In the first 30 minutes, we struggled, and they put a lot of pressure on us. A lot of credit goes to them, but I still think that in the last 15 [minutes] of the first half, and in most of the second half, we had the good part of the match, and we were unfortunate to give up two easy goals like that.”
Following the Williams goal however, the Union brought wave after wave of chances at the Chicago defense, specifically at Fire goalkeeper Sean Johnson. According to the final stat sheet, the Union held edge in attempts on goal (19-12), corner kicks (9-6) and overall possession (57.2-42.8).
Jack McInerney nearly earned his 11th goal of the season after a clear look on goal hit the outside of Chicago’s net. In stoppage, the Union had another good chance in which a weak clearance attempt from Johnson found the feet of Amobi Okugo. Okugo’s shot steered clear of Johnson’s glove but also narrowly missed the far post net. With the loss, the Union remains in fourth place, nestled ahead of Houston (33 points) and just behind Montreal (35 points).
“They had a little bit more heart,” said defender Sheanon Williams. “The last few times we played them, they settled for losing. Definitely with the new people that they brought in, they’re a different team. They’re not the same team that we beat twice.”
The Union will look for another potential six point swing when D.C. United visits the Chester waterfront next Saturday (8 p.m., NBCSN) for a match at PPL Park. United gave the Union some help defeating Montreal, 3-1 at RFK Stadium in a match prior to the Union’s kickoff with Chicago. It’s a game in which three points could find the Union literally back in the swing of what is a tight race to the finish in the Eastern Conference.
“Yeah, we were hoping to go on a little three-game win streak,” said McInerney. “It was a good opportunity, but we have to put this game behind us. We have been pretty inconsistent this year with winning. No one expected us to win in Vancouver, and we would have expected to win today. I think we just have to put it behind us and come out hard against D.C. [United].”