Cory Burke and Jakob Glesnes opened their 2021 accounts in the second half as Philadelphia Union steamrolled Chicago Fire at Soldier Field Saturday afternoon
Jim Curtin made a big call handing 17-year old Jack McGlynn his first MLS start in midfield as Leon Flach shifted deep for the second consecutive match to replace the suspended Jose Martinez. Flach, a revelation since arriving from St. Pauli, provided an aggressive presence at the base of midfield and the rest of the Union squad followed his lead.
After a grinding start that kept play in the middle of the pitch, Philly’s quality began to show through. Jakob Glesnes announced himself with a long, rising free kick before the Union began to squeeze the home side up the right flank. Olivier Mbaizo became a constant threat, linking well with both strikers as they took turns drifting out to the right to create overloads.
Twice the Union worked up the right and found McGlynn at the far post, and twice the teenager’s calm, low strikes were blocked away by chaotic, effective defending.
Bedoya was the next to find himself in space in the box but he shot spun wide and the Union remained without the end product their ball movement and control deserved.
Elliott Collier wiggled free on the right side of the Union penalty area in the 30th minute to take Chicago’s second shot of the match. Boris Sekulic strode forward from his right back position three minutes later, received a ball across the front of the box and tested Andre Blake from distance after shimmying past McGlynn. The Union goalie was unfazed.
The second half began as the first ended, with the Union on top. After six minutes of feeling out their opponent’s tactical changes, Philly struck. Mbaizo’s throw from the right was headed into Monteiro’s path by Burke, and the midfielder returned the favor with a delicious half-volley to the top of the six-yard box. Burke rearranged his feet and pummeled a left-footed shot past Bobby Shuttleworth’s left shoulder.
The Fire almost immediately had an opportunity to even the scoreline but striker Robert Beric, after breaking through alone, pushed the ball wide of the post with only Blake in his way. That stunning miss opened the door for Jakob Glesnes to double the Union’s lead. After a Monteiro corner was partially cleared, Kai Wagner calmly brought the ball down and served it back into the mixer. Glesnes, always a big presence, nodded the ball into the net from the center of a crowd. The goal was his second since arriving in MLS last season.
Anthony Fontana and Sergio Santos replaced McGlynn and Burke as Curtin gave Chicago even more threats to monitor.
Even down two goals, Chicago lacked an attacking presence. Flach owned the middle of the pitch and the Union fullbacks pushed the Fire deep until they had no width through which to attack. Gaston Giminez’s long range balloon in the 84th minute was the home side’s first attempt on goal after going down by a second goal, and Blake barely gave it a thought as it sailed into the stands.
Przemyslaw Frankowski found a great position in the middle of the box two minutes later but once again failed to trouble Blake.
On the other end, Sekulic used his body to hold back Santos at a dead sprint and the two players entered a heated face to face discussion before receiving cautions.
And, before the final whistle could blow, Blake once more showed why he’s the best in the league. Chinonso Offor’s look from the right was high but accurate and only an airborne Blake kept the sheet clean for Philadelphia.
Next up for the Union is a showdown with New England Revolution on May 12 at 7:30 p.m. ET on PHL17. Subaru Park will welcome the Revs back as Philly aims to avenge last season’s playoff loss with an emphatic victory.