Quinn Sullivan contorted his body, shuffled his feet, and scissor kicked in the Union’s opener in what became an uptempo 3-3 draw Saturday night. Sullivan and Stuart Findlay got their first MLS starts and Alvas Powell made his first start for Philly.
With three players getting their first start for the Philadelphia Union, the Boys in Blue found themselves down a goal early in the match off an own goal. With the ball skidding off Soldier Field’s grass with no rhyme or reason it found its way past Andre Blake after a Jakob Glesnes blocked a hard cross into the back of the net as he slid in the rain.
After the shaky start the Union found their footing and looked like they had tied up the contest in the 16th minute after a Sergio Santos tapped in a ball that had deflected off both Cory Burke and a Fire defender but the offsides flag was raised.
The historic tying goal came in the 28th minute after homegrown Quinn Sullivan earned a corner moments earlier via a blocked off from the top of the box. Jamiro Monteiro provided the set piece service into the box that glanced off a Fire player and into the air. Sullivan adjusted his body and delivered the golazo with the bicycle kick goal that made his first MLS start even more memorable. The goal not only tied it up on the scoreboard but made the 17 year-old the youngest goalscorer in Philadelphia Union history, besting former homegrown Jack McInerney by over six months.
With the scoreboard on even footing, the Union grew into the contest even more and knocked the wind out of the Windy City side with Burke netting another goal against the Fire. Displaying pure Philly grit and determination, Glesnes redeemed the earlier mistake chasing down a cleared corner from the Union and firing it back toward Chicago’s goal. Chicago’s nightmare Cory Burke was on the receiving end of the volley, fighting off his defender and riffling a shot past the keeper.
The Fire evened the scoreline to raise the stakes in the second half. Alvaro Medran curled a free kick across the goalmouth from the left side of the pitch and Boris Sekulic broke free from Leon Flach to head it home.
Jim Curtin wasted no time making changes, and Olivier Mbaizo, Daniel Gazdag and Kacper Przybylko stepped on to up the tempo of the match.
However, it was Chicago’s Mauricio Pineda that grabbed the spotlight next. A looping corner kick fell to Pineda and Mbaizo and Chicago defender won the battle and put his team ahead with a first-timer past Blake.
The Union were unbowed and Gazdag popped up across the pitch to drive his side forward. A sustained period of pressure resulted in a bouncing ball from right to left that fell to Przybylko at the back post and the big striker sought to jam it past a diving Bobby Shuttleworth to no avail.
In the 79th minute, Przybylko took the fight to the enemy and outmuscled then outsmarted his defender to free himself up for a left-footed shot from a tight angle. Shuttleworth parried it into Sekulic at close range and the ball rebounded off the defender to nestle in the goal.
Each side had chances to take all three points, and Monteiro was robbed by Shuttleworth late as he looked to slot the ball to the keeper’s right. The match ended even at three. It wasn’t the prettiest point the Union will earn this season but it was an important one as key players rested and others showed what they bring to the table.
After three games in just seven days the Boys in Blue are headed back to the City of Brotherly Love for some time off before hitting the road once more next weekend in Nashville. The Union and Nashville SC face off for the first time on Saturday, July 3rd with kick off set for 8 p.m. ET on PHL17 and PhiladelphiaUnion.com.