Amobi Okugo’s goal in the 88th minute gave the Philadelphia Union a short-lived 1-0 lead, but they were unable to hold on for three points against the Chicago Fire.
That was due in part to Robert Earnshaw’s chip shot over Union goalkeeper Rais Mbolhi in stoppage time. Ultimately, the Union were forced to settle for a 1-1 draw Thursday night before 14,838 fans at PPL Park.
Philadelphia, which is winless in its last four (0-2-2), has three matches remaining.
Chicago (5-8-17, 32 points) set an MLS record with its 17th draw of the season.
“This one, again, we had it in our hands,” Union interim manager Jim Curtin said. “We let it slip away. I’m going to be upset about it for a long time.”
Following Okugo’s goal, the crowd erupted and the Union seemed set to secure three points.
But in stoppage time, Mbolhi was unable to fully clear the ball. Earnshaw gathered it and chipped it over Mbolhi’s head and into the goal.
“What can I say? It was a difficult match for me tonight,” Mbolhi said. “But mistakes happen. It was not the first one. It’s not the last one, obviously. I know how to handle this kind of situation. It’s hard for me tonight but I’ll be fine.”
The Union still have nine possible points to compile in the final three matches. They still have a shot at the postseason.
“It’s not in your hands anymore,” Curtin said. “We’re going to need a miracle, more or less. You need to win your last three and you’re also going to need a lot of help. After Amobi scored, after we get the goal, you feel high. You feel like you have a chance even though it wasn’t our best night. Then to have that happen is tough for the guys. Sickening is the word that everybody feels right now.”
Playing without Sebastien Le Toux (ankle), Conor Casey (tendinitis) and Sheanon Williams (quad), the Union still generated 11 corner kicks, nine in the second half. They had other chances to score, especially a header by Okugo in stoppage time.
“All the guys in the locker room were disappointed that we didn’t get a win,” Curtin said. “So now we’re in a hole.”
Midfielder Danny Cruz, who picked up an assist on Okugo’s goal, echoed similar thoughts.
“We put ourselves in a big hole,” Cruz said. “Now, we’ve got to find a way to dig out.”
All the Union can do is come back to training and prepare for a huge match against the Crew on Oct. 11 at PPL Park.
“We just have to get ready for Monday,” Okugo said. “It’s going to be a tough practice.”