Bridgeview, Il. – Looking to rebound after their first home loss of the season on Friday, the Philadelphia Union settled for a single road point with a 1-1 draw against the Chicago Fire at Toyota Park.
Veljko Paunovic opened the scoring in the 34th minute with a strike from distance, but Pavel Pardo equalized in the 54th minute in his first appearance for the Fire.
The result keeps Philadelphia (8-5-8) in second place in the Eastern Conference, two points behind the idle Columbus Crew with a game still in hand. Chicago (2-6-13) remain in ninth-place in the Eastern Conference.
Playing without the suspended Sheanon Williams (red card), who had started every match on the Union back line this season, Philadelphia were outshot 14-6, with six of the Chicago shots on goal. But Union goalkeeper Faryd Mondragon was outstanding on his line all night, twice denying Dominic Oduro from close-range to preserve the tie.
The Union opened the scoring through Paunovic's second goal of the season. Looking for Sebastien Le Toux cutting down the left wing, Roger Torres had his pass deflected into the middle of the field and onto the foot of the Serbian striker. With a touch to his left, Paunovic unleashed a perfectly-placed low drive from 30 yards out that rippled the netting to the left of a diving Chicago ’keeper Sean Johnson.
Prior to the Paunovic’s strike, the Fire had several opportunities to take the lead. In his first appearance for Chicago, Argentine midfielder Sebastian Grazzini found space on the right wing in the 10th minute and dribbled toward the center of before launching a strike off the top of the netting.
Nine minutes later, Marco Pappa juggled a loose ball to himself at the top of the Union box before sending a bouncing ball directly at Mondragon, who safely corralled.
After the break, it was a second Fire newcomer, Pardo, who knotted the match as the Union were caught on their heels in their defensive box. On a loose ball in the goal mouth off the foot of Oduro, Carlos Valdes succeeded in pushing it out to the top of the box. But with Mondragon on the ground, an unmarked Pardo stepped to the ball and guided it into an open net for his first MLS goal.
Three minutes later, the Union nearly drew ahead off a direct kick from 27 yards. Roger Torres curled a free kick to the right side of the box onto the head of Valdes, whose driven header was over the target.
In the 61st minute, Oduro knifed through the center of the Union defense and ran onto a ball in the box. His drive on target was punched away by an alert Mondragon, who was quick off his line.
Five minutes later, Oduro found himself all alone again on a nearly identical angle, but once again he was robbed by Mondragon from close-range.
In the 71st minute, Le Toux sent second-half sub Danny Mwanga on a partial breakaway behind Jalil Anibaba, but the Fire defender recovered to tap the ball away from Mwanga and thwart the opportunity.
As both teams exchanged possession for the last 20 minutes, it was the Union who had a final opportunity for three points. Late in stoppage time, Le Toux again sent Mwanga in behind the Chicago defense. Mwanga slowed as he entered the Chicago box and looked to find Le Toux, but the centering pass was cleared away.
With the 1-1 tie, the Union move to 7-0-3 when scoring first, including a 3-0-1 mark on the road. Philadelphia are now unbeaten in their last four road matches.
The Union play their third match in nine nights when they return to PPL Park to host Houston on Saturday at 8:00pm on 6abc. Philadelphia defeated the Dynamo 1-0 on the road in the season opener.
PHI - Veljko Paunovic 2 (unassisted) 34'
CHI - Pavel Pardo 1 (unassisted) 54'
PHI -- Brian Carroll (caution; Tactical Foul) 35'
CHI -- Logan Pause (caution; Tactical Foul) 85'
Philadelphia Union -- Faryd Mondragon, Michael Farfan, Danny Califf, Carlos Valdes, Gabriel Farfan, Justin Mapp (Keon Daniel 87), Brian Carroll, Stefani Miglioranzi, Roger Torres (Danny Mwanga 61), Sebastien Le Toux, Veljko Paunovic (Kyle Nakazawa 75).
Substitutes Not Used: Jack McInerney, Amobi Okugo, Ryan Richter, Zac MacMath.
Chicago Fire -- Sean Johnson, Logan Pause, Josip Mikulic, Cory Gibbs (Jalil Anibaba 6), Gonzalo Segares, Marco Pappa, Daniel Paladini, Sebastian Grazzini (Cristian Nazarit 66), Pavel Pardo, Patrick Nyarko (Diego Chaves 82), Dominic Oduro.
Substitutes Not Used: Orr Barouch, Dan Gargan, Baggio Husidic, Jon Conway.
Referee: Michael Kennedy
Referee's Assistants: -Bill Dittmar; Kermit Quisenberry
4th Official: Matthew Foerster
Time of Game: 1:52