The Fire continued to improve offensively with both of the club's most recent additions on display in the starting eleven this time. Alvaro Fernandez and Sherjill MacDonald both started but Chris Rolfe stole the show with two impressive scores. Frank Klopas' revamped offense has looked very good in the last three matches with possession, movement, and scoring chances markedly better than it has been in several weeks.
The new look on offense may earn most of the attention but the Fire defense has also been in form allowing only three scores in the last 5 matches. In fact, the Fire have not allowed more than two goals in a game all season (USOC not included) and look to be a solid bet to land one of the five Eastern Conference playoff spots. With this victory, Chicago is now 4th in the East but trail first place Sporting Kansas City by only 5 points with one game in hand.
The last two and a half months will be a mad scramble. It should be fun to watch.
GK Sean Johnson (6) - No need for acrobatics again this week and the lone score wasn't his fault but there were some shaky moments on aerial balls. Cut off Williams on a good chance to cross the ball in the 25th, handled the Union's few accurate shots flawlessly, and improved a bit with distribution.
D Jalil Anibaba (5) - Earned a corner kick that led to the Fire's second goal and got a little more involved getting forward but he was charged with an own goal in the 35th minute.
D Arne Friedrich (6) - Scored his first MLS goal and it proved to be the game winner. The Berry/Friedrich pairing at center back will only get better. Great pass to MacDonald in the 60th led to a big chance.
D Austin Berry (6) - Stood up Adu on a dangerous chance in the 32nd and helped keep Philadelphia at bay in the last 15 minutes as the home team pushed for a score and the Fire defense seemed to pack it in.
D Gonzalo Segares (5) - Decent game but most of the Union's danger plays came from crosses emanating from the left side. Good tackle on Farfan in the box in the 64th prevented a scoring chance.
M Pavel Pardo (6) - Had to pick up some slack centrally with Pause injured and out of the match. The Union's best chance in the second half came when Michael Farfan maneuvered around Pappa and Pardo to clank a shot off the post. Other than that, Philadelphia wasn't very dangerous in the middle of the park.
M Logan Pause (5) - Went off just before half time after suffering an apparent rib/side injury as a result of a collision with Bakary Soumare. Fire had fairly consistent control of the match before the own goal and continued to get the better of the play after Pause's departure. Phildelphia may not be the best test for a single holding midfielder formation.
M Marco Pappa (6) - Credited with an assist on Friedrich's goal from his corner kick service. Provided a great ball to Fernandez in the 23rd which resulted in a scoring chance. Relatively quite for the rest of the night before being subbed out in favor of Alex in the 63rd.
M Alvaro Fernandez (6) - His chip attempt in the 23rd sailed over the net but his combination play with teammates continues to look like he's been here for far longer than two matches.
F Chris Rolfe (7) - Two class finishes should earn him Player of the Week consideration. A well taken left footed touch provided the first score and a screamer on the run that MacMath couldn't handle out the icing on the cake. A nifty back heel gave Fernandez a look but his shot was blocked in the 64th. Also combined well with MacDonald and Alex for chances in the 66th and 87th.
F Sherjill MacDonald (6) - Torched Soumare to find Rolfe for the equalizer in the 43rd minute for a text book assist. Got his first start today but isn't fully fit just yet and had two excellent chances go by the boards. Missed a 1v1 against MacMath after a pass from Friedrich sent him in against MacMath. Had another opportunity go wanting in the 66th as his shot sailed high over the net. Allows the Fire to play a different look with Oduro on the bench, but like the Ghanian incumbent....strikers need to finish. Good signs from MacDonald after three matches though.
M Patrick Nyarko (6) - Seems to be the current odd man out of the first eleven with Pappa and Fernandez on the pitch but continues to be productive. Credited with an assist on Rolfe's second goal.
M Alex (5) - Came in for Pappa in the 63rd and had a nice sequence in the 87th and 88th minutes, feeding Rolfe for a chance and later earning a corner kick.
M Mike Videira (5) - Picked up his first minutes of the season when he entered in the 70th minute for MacDonald. Looked to replace Pause's presence as the Fire tried to melt away the clock with a 2 goal lead. Philadelphia had some possession in the last twenty minutes but no real chances.
C Frank Klopas (6) - Another win on the road against a team that had won four consecutive at home. Klopas has this squad headed for the playoffs. It's just a matter of how high they will finish in the East.
Next Up: A very winnable home match against the New England Revolution.