By Amanda Beemer
Chicago was full of sportsmanlike hate for Philly this past weekend. In addition to the Blackhawks hosting the Flyers at the United Center, Chicago welcomed MLS’s newest expansion team the Philadelphia Union and their coach, Fire Legend Piotr Nowak to Toyota Park.
Saturday’s grudge match was played on a soggy pitch that bore the characteristics of a slip ‘n’ slide in front of a respectable 14,658 fans, and resulted in a 2-1 win for the Fire. The outcome is especially gratifying since a win has eluded our boys in their last seven matches (friendlies included), and the Union were looking to establish their first-ever winning streak in Chicago. The three points earned have given the Fire a boost up the Eastern Conference Standings past the Revs into fourth place; we now have one-third of the season behind us and one more match ahead before the World Cup break.
Fire Head Coach Carlos De los Cobos reverted back to the 4-5-1 formation with McBride starting and the usual suspects, midfielders Husidic, Pappa, and Nyarko directly behind him. The threesome, with a little help from Mapp, was responsible for both goals. In the 14th minute under an ominous-looking sky Nyarko ran a pass from Mapp past Philly’s defense and gave it to Husidic who shot it into the far corner of the net. In the 74th minute, just after the sky opened back up and rain began to fall, Mapp took a shot which was deflected by Philly’s keeper, only to have it cleared right to Pappa who made an easy goal from about nine yards out. Regarding the Fire’s defense, the match looked like it was going to be our first shutout since late April, that is until Philly managed to score a consolation goal in stoppage time just after the 90:00 mark.
Chicago proper may have seen an influx of Philly fans, but none of them seemed to make it down to Toyota Park to watch their city’s newest team play. In hindsight I suppose that’s fair, given the fact that even as of late I hardly ever watch a Blackhawks game (but I also like to think American hockey is even more obscure than American footie). Nevertheless, Toyota Park made reference to the weekend’s other big game by piping “Chelsea Dagger” through the PA every time the Fire scored, which Section 8 quickly picked up on and gladly sneered along to. Most importantly, it was a good weekend for Chicago; hopefully the Fire’s momentum will continue to build with a win against Colorado just before the much-needed World Cup hiatus.
Amanda is a long-time Chicago resident and avid Chicago Fire fan, and has been following MLS for the better part of a decade. Although she makes an awesome spectator, she is a god-awful player. She can be reached at email@example.com