Perhaps this win will set the Fire's fortunes moving in the right direction. In what was easily the team's best outing this year, Chicago was clearly the better team from start to finish of this match although the last twenty minutes were unforgettable while playing with a man advantage.
"From a viewpoint of points, it's fantastic to win our first game, especially at home," said Frank Yallop after the match. "It's probably the best we've played for 55 minutes. We created chances, and felt we dominated most of the play. When the red card came, we really sat back and waited to see how the game turned out, where we should have been on the front foot, making a difference, and really punishing the team we're playing against. Philadelphia hung in there, they had their moments, but we should have put the game away before the 55th or 60th minute mark. We'll work on it, we'll look at the game tape, and make sure that we continue the way we attack. I thought the first half was excellent, but we have to work on the things that we didn't do in the second half that could have cost us the game.”
The team has gotten progressively better with each match after a dismal showing to open the season in Los Angeles. Harry Shipp showed why he is becoming one of the most dangerous attackers in MLS and the return of Shaun Maloney and David Accam will provide some hope that the rough start was just that. One game and one win against one of the lower level teams in the Eastern Conference doesn't solve all of problems or clarify every issue but it's a start and there's a long way to go.
For this week, the Fire were the better team and deserved all three points. This time there was no late equalizer. That too is another positive sign.
GK Sean Johnson (6) - Didn't need to register one save as the Union failed to get any of their seven shot attempts on frame. A clean sheet is always welcome as are bounce back games after two costly errors in San Jose.
D Eric Gehrig (5) - Still leaves plenty of space for opponents to operate in by vacating the right side too often causing the centerbacks to scramble back but this was his best day at right back in three attempts.
D Jeff Larentowicz (6) - Aristeguieta is dangerous in the box but he wasn't today. Larentowicz and Adailton both did creditable jobs of stepping up when needed and blocking crosses/passes into the area.
D Adailton (6) - The goal was the difference in the match but he also did well to stay at home when needed.
D Lovel Palmer (5) - Doesn't look as comfortable on the left as he does on the right side. Perhaps he will move back to a more natural position when Accam becomes available and Jones can play left back.
M Matt Polster (6) -Several well placed long balls over the top of the Union defense early seemed to set the stage for the Fire's control of the midfield. Polster played in big part in that control and the Fire's 52-48 overall advantage in possession. (56-44 in the first half)
M Michael Stephens (6) - Lined up centrally with Polster and the Fire's duo clearly outplayed the Union's Maurice Edu and Michael Lahoud. Very good in moving the ball in the first half.
M Harry Shipp (7) - His well placed free kick in the 37th found Adailton for the game winner but he also created several other chances for teammates that probably should have resulted in more goals. Set up Igboananike with a pin-point through ball in the 55th and embarrassed the Union's back line with some footwork in the 85th. Shipp has been outstanding this season.
M Joevin Jones (6) - Continues to play well at left midfield in Accam's absence. Very good in the first half in particular.
F Kennedy Igboananike (5) - Easily his best outing in a Fire shirt after Yallop's comments earlier this week. Had several chances that could have resulted in another goal if balls were struck better. On the receiving end of a ball from Shipp in the 55th, he didn't quite strike the ball cleanly enough to get it past M'Bolhi as the goalkeeper made a last ditch leg save to keep the game close.
F Quincy Amarikwa (5) - May have had a gripe when he called for a handball on Fabinho in the 20th minute. Active as always but the Fire will need that extra touch in the final third if they are to continue improvement.
M Matt Watson (5) - Entered the match for Igboananike in the 66th. Not involved in much as the Fire sat back after Fred's red card in the 72nd.
F Guly do Prado (5) - Subbed in for Jones in the 84th. The Union were in desperation mode by then.
Toronto FC at home next Saturday.