Recap: First place Philly shuts out Fire 2-0 in the summer heat

Marco Fabian opened the scoring with a fireball and Anthony Fontana put away Chicago in the second half as the Union recovered from a rough performance against Real Salt Lake with a 2-0 win at Talen Energy Stadium Saturday night. 

Chicago came out intent on hitting Philadelphia with long switches. Both wingbacks pushed extremely wide in buildups and sought to stretch the Union and create space on the far side. This gave the Union issues defensively, but the visitors couldn’t get enough bodies into the box to create good chances. 

In the 6th minute, Haris Medunjanin picked out Kacper Przybylko on the right side of the box with a stunning seeing-eye pass. The striker cut his men and played Brenden Aaronson into the center, only for the homegrown midfielder’s shot to deflect over the goal. 

Aaronson was involved in the setup to the Union’s opener a few minutes later. Locating space behind the right fullback, he drew a foul in the final third. Haris Medunjanin took a low free kick to Kai Wagner at the top of the box and the German fullback slid the ball across to Marco Fabian. Without hesitating, the Mexican playmaker unleashed a rocket that left Kenneth Kronholm standing in wonder as the Union took the lead. 

The Fire didn’t back down and tried to play long through the fullbacks with even more intensity. In the 27th minute, a Bastian Schweinsteiger free kick was nodded wide of goal by Nemanja Nikolic, then five minutes later former Union midfielder Fabian Herbers was left free at the far post on a corner but couldn’t squeeze his shot through traffic. 

The second half opened with more attacking intent from the visitors, but the first big chance came, once again, through Medunjanin. His far post ball found a selfless Kacper Przybylko and Fafa Picault collected the knock-down header before whipping in a shot that Kronholm parried at a tight angle. 

Philly was finding their rhythm, and moments later substitute Anthony Fontana combined with Ale Bedoya and Fafa Picault to set up Brenden Aaronson. Picault got up the line but his hard, low cross was just in front of Aaronson’s run. 

Fontana was rewarded for his work in the 65th minute when he followed up a play down the left. Haris Medunjanin played Kai Wagner up the line and the fullback fought off pressure before playing a ball across the face of goal. Fontana was working hardest to get on the end of the play and he finished with ease. 

The second goal quelled the Fire, and Philadelphia saw out the rest of the match easily. Heavy heat made for tired legs, and Fafa Picault continued to push Chicago deep while Kacper Przybylko put in a wonderful display with his back to goal, offering an option up front and playing one-touch passes to the second wave of Union players. 

Now Philadelphia heads to Montreal with the longest consecutive string of days in first place in club history under its belt and a chance to build momentum before a difficult run of games in late August and early September. 

The Union’s matchup with the Impact begins at 8:00 p.m. ET on Saturday, July 27th on PHL17.


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