The Fire got themselves back into playoff contention in what amounted to a "must-win" situation against a club that had beaten them twice this season. Chicago is now six points behind Philadelphia with two games in hand and five points behind fifth place Houston for the final playoff spot. The Fire, Revolution, and Union are likely to be the challengers for the last post season berth if things hold to form.
Every match over the next several weeks will feature playoff implications with Montreal, New England, Sporting KC, and Houston on the horizon. That's not even mentioning Wednesday's US Open Cup semi-final. The Fire aren't the same club that they were in the first two months of the season and Union defender Sheanon Williams explained the difference beyond Mike Magee by saying, "They had a little bit more heart. The last few times we played them, they settled for losing. Definitely with the new people they brought, they're a different team. They're not the same team that we beat twice."
Magee has changed that attitude not only on the pitch but off the field as well. "My mindset it trying to change the culture and try to get in the habit of trying to win games," said Magee after the match. There are still areas that need to be addressed but they should be able to make a run at one of the Eastern Conference playoff spots despite the hole that they dug for themselves early on. If Magee can maintain his goal scoring form and the outside wing players (Nyarko, Lindpere, Duka) continue to produce they'll make it interesting.
GK Sean Johnson (6) - A welcome return from the Gold Cup with four saves and a few in spectacular signature variety. A big stop on LeToux in the 54th and another to deny Okugo's header in the 65th gave the club a chance to earn the victory.
D Gonzalo Segares (6) - The Fire's backline was composed and steady for the first 40 minutes of the first half. The last 5 and the first fifteen of the second were an adventure. Segares was solid for most of the night with Philadelphia switching LeToux away from his side. The only misstep came in the 61st when LeToux's free kick found Sheanon Williams' head, bounced off of Segares, back off Williams, and off Segares again into the net.
D Austin Berry (6) - Berry had to be big with the Union serving 32 open play crosses, collecting 9 corner kicks, and several free kicks in dangerous areas. The official stats have him down for 15 clearances. He had to play big in this one and he that he did.
D Bakary Soumare (5) - A few ups and downs but did contribute 10 clearances of his own.
D Jalil Anibaba (5) - Played well in spots but was caught too high and out of position on a couple of instances leading to Philadelphia attacks. A dangerous played in the 72nd necessitated that Soumare recover defensively to deny LeToux's cross.
M Jeff Larentowicz (6) - The pairing with Alex worked very well through most of the first half but stalled in the second as the Union challenged for an equalizer. Also played well defensively late in the match.
M Alex (5) - Started off well but trailed off as the Union began to control possession late in the first half. Subbed out in the 74th with the scored tied at 1-1.
M Patrick Nyarko (7) - The effort and hustle is a constant for Nyarko and he's now showing an ability to finish. He scored his career-high tying 4th goal on a clinical touch in the 9th to give the Fire the lead. He also created the game winner by taking the ball from Leo Fernandes in the 75th and once again found Magee racing toward goal. He's got a knack as a playmaker that few in MLS possess.
M Joel Lindpere (6) - Perhaps the competition for playing time has raised his game. Lindpere delivered another perfect cross for Nyarko in the 9th to put the Union on their heels and give the Fire a rare first goal.
F Chris Rolfe (5) - Not much in terms of chances but played well in combination particularly in the first half.
F Mike Magee (6) - The guy just doesn't miss open looks. Scored his league leading 14th goal in the 75th to provide the match winner. Also played a role in the first Fire score although he wasn't credited in the stat book. Whether the Fire make the playoffs or not he may be the front runner for league MVP at this point.
M Dilly Duka (6) - Entered the game for Lindpere in the 67th and immediately contributed with a good shot that was saved by MacMath in the 71st. Played Hoppenot well in stoppage time to deny him in the penalty area.
F Quincy Amarikwa (5) - Came on for Rolfe in the 67th and found Duka for his chance a few minutes later. Had a glorious chance to ice the game in stoppage time but his shot was badly taken and denied by MacMath in a 1v1 situation. Regardless of the shot, he continues to contribute off the bench.
M Daniel Paladini (5) - Subbed in for Alex in the 74th. A questionable backpass in the 92nd caused some havoc.
- The Fire will now prepare DC United in the US Open Cup semi-finals on Wednesday. DC defeated Montreal 3-1 with Dwayne DeRosario and Perry Kitchen back in the line-up.
- Juan Luis Anangon0 was not in the 18 and did not travel. He experienced some hamstring tightness after training on Thursday and was held out of this game. He is expected to be available on Wednesday.
- Sherjill MacDonald did not travel for the second consecutive match as the Fire continued to pursue a loan or transfer for him. The transfer window closes August 8.