Philadelphia Union have a chance to pull even on points with sixth place Montreal if they can grab a win on the road and leapfrog Chicago Fire on Wednesday night.
The Fire went undefeated in June following a loss to Philadelphia at the end of May. But after two wins and three draws, Veljko Paunovic’s squad fell to Kei Kamara and Vancouver Whitecaps to open their July schedule on Saturday.
But after starting the year 2-4-1 at home, the Fire are 2-0-1 in their last three matches at Toyota Park. Better yet, 2017 Golden Boot winner Nemanja Nikolic is scoring again after a five-game streak without a tally. The Serbian hitman does little to help build possession, but continues to show he is a force in the box with goals in two straight matches. Nikolic is now tied with winger Alexander Katai for the team scoring lead with eight. Katai racked up five goals in the month of June and has at least two shots on goal in six of his last seven matches, which is very, very good.
Katai played in May 30 when the Fire lost to Philly, but both Nikolic and midfielder Dax McCarty were absent. They are healthy now, and McCarthy has been returning to form, collecting two assists in a win over New York City FC on June 30.
The Fire are currently just below the playoff line in the Eastern Conference, two points ahead of Phillly and one back of Montreal. The Impact play powerhouse NYC FC on Wednesday, so a win for Chicago or the Union could make things very interesting in the fight for the last two playoff spots in the east.
The Union face the Fire at 8:30 PM EST on PHL17 this Wednesday, July 11.