Jim Curtin turned to Cory Burke and Kacper Przybylko up top after Major League Soccer issued a last minute disciplinary decision regarding Sergio Santos. Daniel Gazdag sat in the hole behind the strikers with Alejandro Bedoya and Leon Flach working in front of Jose Martinez.
Philly came out of the gates strong and generated a trio of scoring chances in the first nine minutes of play. A cross from captain Alejandro Bedoya landed at Flach’s feet and the midfielder’s shot was deflected toward Gazdag on the right side of the box. The ball hung in the air too long as Gazdag sorted out his feet and the eventual shot fell wide of the goalframe.
After Jakob Glesnes created a chance off a corner, Chicago Fire FC nightmare Cory Burke nearly opened the scoring with an effort in the ninth minute. Playing in his first match for the Boys in Blue after a stint with the Jamaican National Team at the Concacaf Gold Cup, the forward found space inside the box and fired a left-footed blast that skid inches from the far post.
Chicago took advantage of the missed Union opportunity and netted the opening goal against the run of play in the 10th minute. Boris Sekulic came up into the play and sent a cross that Przemysław Frankowski got a headed flick on for the 1-0 lead.
Trailing by a goal, the Union didn’t hang their heads and continued to push for an equalizer before the halftime break. That persistence paid dividends in the 34th minute as Bedoya sent a volley over the enter Fire defense and into the path of Burke. With the forward in on goal, Wyatt Omsberg tackled the Jamaican outside the box. After a short look at VAR, the referee showed red and put the Fire down to 10 men with a one goal lead. That lead last just one play as Kai Wagner fired a left-footed laser from 19 yards out that snuck under a leaping defender in the wall.
With the man advantage, Philly took the field in the second half with a sense of calmness and purpose. The team that fought relentlessly in Florida was determined to show the home fans a go-ahead goal.
Cory Burke was at the center of everything for Philadelphia as he dropped a few yards off of Przybylko and began playmaking at the top of the box. After rolling off of the right side, Burke connected with a cross from Mbaizo but delicately popped his header just past the far corner.
Mbaizo grew in confidence as the Fire left space for him up the flank. Another low, lined cross ripped through the box just far enough from Gazdag that he couldn’t change his body shape to lay it into an open net.
As the Fire began to get comfortable in their defensive shape, Curtin brought Ilsinho on for Flach and shifting Bedoya into the center alongside Martinez. Ilsinho took up his familiar place on the right wing and began feeling out a two-man game with Mbaizo that led to a hanging cross over Burke’s head. Off the ensuing corner, Ilsinho was right back at it, looking to combine at the top of the box before powering through defenders and watching the ball roll just out of his reach.
Quinn Sullivan was next to join the mix as he replaced Gazdag and immediately began chasing down the Fire’s worn down defenders.
As the 80th minute approached, Martinez found himself with a look at goal from distance and forced Bobby Shuttleworth into a stretch save.
The squeeze continued in the 84th as Glesnes’ ball in was punched down by Shuttleworth and served into the mixer by Wagner. Burke threw his body into an aerial challenge to earn a corner kick as the ball stayed near Chicago’s goal. More pressure followed as Ilsinho’s low cross from the right bounced around until Wagner teed it up for another drive from deep. A deflection pushed the ball out to the right and Philly once again filled the box to await a corner. Again the ball was only half-cleared and it ended up on Wagner’s foot for another deep blast that shuffled over the crossbar.
In extra time, Sullivan slotted in Bedoya and the captain’s shot was quick and sure but bonked Shuttleworth in the head and stayed out.
In the closing moments, Wagner put one more corner into the box and Philly worked the ball around to McGlynn on the far side before Chicago cleared. The visitors weren’t leaving their box though – and when Philly put the pressure on, Ilsinho nearly strode through again. As became custom, a Fire player stayed on the turf after the play as Wagner put a final ball in. As Burke nodded it on frame, the play was blown dead for a foul and the Fire were off the hook.
Philly’s continues a hectic August slate with a quick turnaround on Wednesday night against Toronto FC. Kick off from Subaru Park is set for 7:30 p.m. ET with tickets for the Eastern Conference clash available on PhiladelphiaUnion.com. Wednesday's match will be broadcast on PHL17 as well as on PhiladelphiaUnion.com for free for fans within the Philadelphia DMA.