Highlights | #CHIvPHI

Taking to the pitch just three days after an emotional victory that pushed the squad back atop the Eastern Conference, Philadelphia Union faced another difficult challenge as they look on the Fire located at the other end of the table. Head Coach Jim Curtin looked to carry over the momentum from the win by rolling out the exact same lineup from Sunday and it netted a few dangerous chances early in the context.

Julian Carranza set up a dangerous free kick opportunity just outside Chicago’s box just four minutes into the match after taking a knock from center back Rafael Czichos. Looking to get on the scoreboard early, left back Kai Wagner had a go from 20-yards off but saw his left-footed curler dip just over the crossbar.

Moments later the Union’s leading playmaker Daniel Gazdag was pulling the strings again as he threaded ball into the box that created space homegrown Nathan Harriel and ultimately led to a Union corner kick.

Chicago’s gameplan with a four back system was to sit back and it succeeded in its goal of a frustrated Union attack. After absorbing the early chances, the Fire took control with Xherdan Shaqiri putting his imprint on the match. The first showcase of the Swiss international’s talent came in the ninth minute off a recycled corner kick. Chasing down the Union’s clearance, Shaqiri sent a volley into the box that Jack Elliott got a boot on but had it drop to Czichos inside the six but the defender pushed it wide. The midfielder then took to set piece service, forcing a difficult punch from Union goalkeeper Andre Blake.

Save | Blake turns aside a difficult curler

As halftime approached the Fire continued to press up for the opening goal with an aggressive Chris Mueller generating a pair of scoring chances. The former Orlando City SC playmaker had a go from the edge of the box but saw it turned aside by the two-time MLS Goalkeeper of the Year. Mueller had one more try just before the whistle, getting in on goal with a breakaway but was again stopped by Blake and the offsides flag.

The Union made a pair of changes at the break to inject some fresh legs and energy into the contest with Olivier Mbaizo and Cory Burke. The club’s all-time leading goalscorer against the Fire, Burke nearly added another to his tally just seconds after taking to Soldier Field. Wagner collected a pass on the left flank and quickly saw the Jamaican forward getting into a prime position. Sending a perfectly weighted ball to the penalty spot, Burke went for the diving header at the near post the crashed off the keeper and post without somehow crossing the line.

Chance | Burke nearly scores off a strong header

The home side were the first to break through in the 68th minute taking advantage a second ball chance. Mueller sparked the Fire attack, getting space against Wagner and rifling a cross into the box. Jose Martinez stuck out a foot to block the ball but the deflect fell right to Boris Sekulic. In the midst of a scramble in the box, he laid it off for Federico Navarro for a right-footed shot that snuck inside the post.

The Union’s fight back into the contest was made more difficult five minutes later when Martinez was sent off for a second yellow offense after battling former Union forward Kacper Przybylko. With the extra space on the pitch, Chicago sought an insurance goal nearly found it but Przybylko’s header rang off the crossbar in the 76th minute.

Mbaizo pressed up the pitch looking to create with less than 10 minutes remaining, sending a good looking cross into the box that connected with Chris Donovan but right into the arms of 18-year-old goalkeeper Gabriel Slonina. The Union's final chance at an equalizer came just before the clock hit stoppage time with Daniel Gazdag going for a golazo that just missed the upper 90.

Chance | Gazdag goes for a rocket shot

Philadelphia Union is back on the pitch as they kick off a busy July schedule on the road with an Eastern Conference showdown against the Columbus Crew on Sunday, July 3rd. Kick off from Columbus is set for 7:30 p.m. ET with coverage locally on PHL17 and PhiladelphiaUnion.com.