Know Your Opponent: Chicago Fire

Nogueira vs. Chicago

This week the Union (6-13-5) play hosts to the Chicago Fire (6-12-4) not once but twice, playing against them on Wednesday in the semi-finals of the US Open Cup and then again on Sunday in a nationally televised game. The games kick off at 7:30 and 7 p.m. respectively with the game on Sunday being shown on FoxSports1.

What you need to know

The Chicago Fire are currently the bottom dwellers in both the Eastern Conference and in the Supporters’ Shield race but as is often the case, their team is better than their record shows. Despite only having six wins on the season, they have managed to beat teams like Toronto FC, the Seattle Sounders and the Montreal Impact, all teams who are sitting in playoff positions.

Like last year, the Chicago Fire have attempted to be active in the international transfer market, winning the rights to Didier Drogba but failing to get a deal done. Instead, they sent the rights for Drogba to Montreal in exchange for general allocation money and targeted allocation money which they immediately used to haul in former Toronto forward Gilberto. They were able to claim the Brazilian off of waivers after Toronto was forced to cut him loose in order to make room for their three DPs.

Since starting the season 3-3-0, the Fire have struggled to keep any sort of form throughout the season, dropping nine of their last 16 MLS games, including three of their last five. With 2013 MLS MVP Mike Magee injured more often than not, the Fire have managed to score only 24 league goals, third worst in MLS.

While the Fire haven’t been able to really get going in league play, they will enter Wednesday red-hot in Open Cup play, winning their previous three games by a combined score of 7-2. Their most recent win saw them beat down a full strength Orlando City SC lineup 3-1, with forward Kennedy Igboananike scoring a brace as a substitute.

The Fire have a strong history in both the league and the Open Cup, winning the MLS cup in 1998, the Supporters’ Shield in 2003 and the US Open Cup in 1998, 2000, 2003 and 2006.

Players to watch out for

Harry Shipp, Midfielder: Harry Shipp has been one of the bright spots for the Fire both this season and last season, starting a combined 48 games including all 22 this season. Shipp signed with the Fire in 2014 after playing four years at the University of Notre Dame. Signing as their third homegrown player in club history, Shipp has tallied two goals and five assists this season.

Shaun Maloney, Midfielder: The former Celtic and current Scottish national team midfielder joined the Fire in the offseason as one of their designated players. Maloney has brought his wealth of international experience to a young squad and in 13 starts this year has contributed two goals and three assists.

Sean Johnson, Goalkeeper: Johnson is the team’s defensive backbone and has been since he joined the team in 2010 after being selected in the fourth round of the MLS SuperDraft as a Generation Adidas player. Johnson has started and played 148 games in his six year career, including 15 games this season. He has logged 37 saves while allowing 1.2 goals per game in 2015.

Probable line-up


Goalkeeper: Sean Johnson

Defenders (left to right): Joevin Jones, Jeff Larentowicz, Eric Gehrig, Lovel Palmer

Midfielders (left to right): Shaun Maloney, Razvan Cocis, Matt Polster, Harry Shipp

Forwards: Gilberto, Kennedy Igboananike

Facts and Figures

The Union are 5-5-4 all time against the Chicago Fire, including a 3-2-1 record against them at PPL Park. In their only previous meeting this year on March 29, the Union lost 1-0 off of a goal from Adailton.

The Union are coming off a 0-0 draw against Orlando City SC on Saturday while the Fire are coming off a 1-0 loss against the Portland Timbers on Friday.

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Every match matters! In 2024, you do not want to miss your favorite matchups as the Union take on the best MLS has to offer! When we score, make sure you are there to get Subaru Park shaking!

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