Recap: Fire take 2-0 win as Union create but can't finish in second half

The Fire and Union traded early looks but neither could put away the opener. First it was Chicago attacking up Philly’s right and looking for CJ Sapong tucking into the center. Sapong barely missed a long ball across the face of goal before Philly responded with Marco Fabian breaking behind the defense but failing to latch onto Kacper Przybylko’s throughball. Przybylko then dispossessed Bastian Schweinsteiger deep in his own end but couldn’t connect a pass to produce the big opening the Union needed. 

The match lapsed into a grounding central battle and in the 30th minute Kai Wagner spun in an early cross toward Przybylko that the big striker could not get onto. 

Chicago broke through in the 38th minute on a front post run from Nemanja Nikolic. Johan Kappelhof carried the ball out of defense with ease and pushed it wide to Przemyslaw Frankowski. The Polish winger’s low cross was poked in by Nikolic. 

Things became worse as the match inched toward extra time of the first half. Aurelien Collin was called for a penalty in the box and Nikolic once again stepped up and tucked home. 

Just before halftime, Jamiro Monteiro drove past Nico Gaitan and nearly went through deja vu as once again an opponent’s playmaker dove at the Cape Verde international from behind. And, like Sacha Kljestan, Gaitan saw red, though a lengthy VAR process elapsed before the final decision was made. 

Ilsinho entered for Warren Creavalle to start the second half but it was former Union man Sapong that was the first to threaten. Pushing through the center, he touched a cross off the crossbar, watching it bounce near the goalline and out. 

The Union began to create opportunities after the 55 minute mark. Monteiro’s flip through the lines found Fabian in the box but the Mexican International pulled his shot wide of the far post. 

In the 60th minute, Alejandro Bedoya repeated Fabian’s feat when Ilsinho and Medunjanin combined to release the captain on the right, but once again the shot spun around the post and out of play. Aurelien Collin was next at the plate but his shot in close off a bouncing cross boomed over the crossbar. 

Medunjanin let rip from the top of the box in the 69th, but after the strike caromed off a defender and wrong-footed Kronholm, the goalie recovered and smothered it on the goalline.  

In the 86th, Philadelphia’s best chance of the night came from Jack Elliott’s advancing movement up the pitch. Elliott pushed the ball deep and in the ensuing chaos, Kacper Przybylko’s shot somehow snuck around the post. 

Two minutes later, Wooten was in behind off a dink from Monteiro but the striker scuffed his shot and couldn’t open his MLS account. 

In extra time, Jack Elliott beat his man to a cross in the box and headed directly at Kronholm when the goal was gaping. The paly summed up a night when the Union created chances throughout the second half but never found the finish needed to start the momentum for a comeback. 

Now they return to Philadelphia on August 24 for a rivalry showdown with DC United on Alumni Night in Talen Energy Stadium. Get there long before the 7:30 p.m. kickoff to enjoy all the activities before a huge home match that will be broadcast on PHL17.


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