Play-by-Play Plus: MacMath the difference in Chicago and look ahead to LA
Zac MacMath's best game of the 2013 season could not have come at a better time. His six saves and overall command of goal was why the Philadelphia Union was able to leave Chicago with three points versus the Fire on Saturday.
A goal by steady Jack McInerney off a brilliant assist from substitute Sebastien Le Toux, was all the club needed to secure the win. For the 20-year-old McInerney, this was his seventh goal of the season, his fifth on the road, and fourth game winning goal.
But the stage belonged to MacMath who was playing behind a new back four due to the injury to Jeff Parke and the suspension of Sheanon Williams. The 21-year-old MacMath also had to deal with very windy conditions, which could have led to a long day at Toyota Park. Instead, the third-year pro was strong in his positioning, aggressive off his line and confident in his distribution. His play gave his team a chance for at least a point on the road. And thanks to McInerney's goal, MacMath's shutout was worth three points to the Union.
For Manager John Hackworth, it was a good way to start three games in an eight night stretch.
Even without injuries or suspensions, when you have a stretch like this, one would figure that more players would become a part of the 11 and 18 on the game day roster. There is so little time for rest and recovery as the Union are back at it for two home games this week versus LA on Wednesday, and a rematch against the Fire at PPL Park on Saturday night.
The lineup on Wednesday might reflect this tough schedule as Hackworth prepares for a very dangerous opponent.
The Galaxy enter with a rare two game losing streak, losing most recently on Saturday, 3-1 at Vancouver. The two-time defending MLS Cup champions are a bit banged up with star forward Robbie Keane and left back Todd Dunivant missing recent games. Both could be ready for the midweek game at PPL Park (7:30 p.m., purchase tickets). Also, Los Angeles is loaded with talent as Landon Donovan and Mike Magee fuel this offense and U.S. international central defender Omar Gonzalez controls the backline.
Head coach Bruce Arena spoke about changes for Wednesday, following the loss at Vancouver. Arena's club is faced with three games in nine nights going on to face the New York Red Bulls at Red Bull Arena on Sunday. This will be the first and only regular season meeting between these two teams in 2013.
Following the two home games this week, the Union head back out on the road for back-to-back games against Canadian clubs Montreal (May 25) and Toronto (June 1).