Fire v Union - rematch preview

Who's excited for this return match-up between the the ninth and tenth place teams in the Eastern Conference?

Somebody?

Anybody?

There are twelve games remaining and they're going to be played so Martin Tomszak is taking a look at the Union again.

What Are They All About? Philadelphia Union Preview

Somewhere in Chicago there is a fat lady singing, but probably not at the Lyric Opera House because that would be too beautiful of a finale for the Fire. In what was pegged as possibly the last meaningful match of Chicago’s season they lost 1-0 against the Philadelphia Union in the Open Cup semi-final at PPL Park this past Wednesday. Not only was it a loss to a fellow bottom dwelling team, but it was the most disheartening performance of the season. After the match the players returned to the team bus looking absolutely dejected while the coaching staff was at a loss for words. Shaun Maloney could barely manage a half smile and a sad wave to the traveling faithful after what might have been one of final games with the team. With playoffs realistically out of reach and the cup run over, there is very little motivation or positivity to be found anywhere around the Chicago organization. Nevertheless, they face the Union again this Sunday in league play and where there’s a match, there’s a preview.

Philly Form Guide (Last Five League Matches): D-L-L-L-W

Previous match: A 1-0 win against the Chicago Fire in Open Cup play.

Formation: 4-2-3-1; McCarthy; Gaddis, Edu, Marquez, Fabinho; Lahoud, Carroll; Le Toux, Maidana, Barnetta; Sapong

Strengths: This is now our third preview of this Philadelphia side and our readers should know them well by now. That and the fact that despite the Open Cup win Philly remains a terrible team means that we will keep this preview brief.

As far as strengths are concerned, it seems that the match on Wednesday solidified the dangers presented by the midfield controlling trio of Sebastien LeToux, Cristian Maidana and recently acquired Tranquillo Barnetta. While the match heavily lacked quality, there were two or three moments that mattered and made the difference for Philly and the aforementioned players played a key role in the all of them. In a sequence that started with a misplaced pass from Joevin Jones and a bad touch from Matt Polster, the Union exhibited the high pressure that Frank Yallop had warned about in his pre-match comments. The midfield quickly collapsed in on the Fire’s back four and a series of passes coupled with a half-hearted tackle from Maloney left LeToux with a clear look on net which turned out to be the difference maker in the match.

With the lead, the Union’s ability to hold up the ball in their opponents final third kept the Fire at bay and unable to muster any meaningful attacks in the final fifteen minutes. CJ Sapong’s knack for making dangerous runs between center backs was visible throughout the match as well and it certainly made the Fire think twice about fully committing their defenders and holding mids to the attack in the dying minutes.

Strong in Defense? After discussing Philly’s inability to defend in our last preview we were made to eat our words. Maurice Edu, who was a game time decision because of his hamstring injury, strung together a solid performance at center back. He was hungry on the day and made a few key interceptions on Chicago’s long ball approach to the match. John McCarthy’s goal keeping skills were also called into question and he replied with vigor, saving the only two shots that Chicago had on target in the match. He will certainly be looking forward to a third clean sheet in a row on Sunday.

Debellatio: Given that both teams’ supporter culture utilizes Latin phrases, it is perhaps fitting to end the strengths section with this ancient word that means conquest through absolute destruction. Whether or not they will admit it, the Fire really put all of their eggs in one basket with the Open Cup match and they failed miserably. Coming off of a performance like that and having to face the same side in the same stadium may serve as an opportunity of redemption for some, but that is not the case for this completely crestfallen Chicago side.  The Union will see this as an opportunity to trounce Chicago again and put distance between the two worst sides in the conference as they themselves gasp for air in the playoff race. If we’re being honest, after the Open Cup loss, there is not much alluding to the possibility of Sunday’s match being any different in style or result.

Weaknesses: Perhaps the Union will be hung over? In all seriousness, the only way that the Union will drop a result in this match is if they are still celebrating the win from Wednesday. But with the way that Curtin praised his players in the post-match comments this will be a match that Philly takes seriously.

Nothing to Lose: Other than speculating on a few possible line up choices we don’t often play coach in these previews, but today is different. With such a debilitating loss, perhaps it is time for Yallop to experiment with some of the younger and less utilized squad members. The likes of Ritter, Stephens, Doody, Bryce, and Fernandez could grasp this opportunity to play fearlessly and show that they are MLS caliber players. Heck, give Polster the arm band and cement his heart to Chicago. Some of the starters clearly weren’t up for it on Wednesday so shaking things up can’t hurt.

Prediction:  Philadelphia is on cloud nine. They may not ultimately make the playoffs but they will beat the Fire on Sunday. Chicago 0-2 Philadelphia. Although to be honest, winning this match 4-0 would be quite befitting of the Men in Red this season. Pick whichever result suits you; it really makes no difference anymore.

Filed under: 2015 Regular Season

Tags: Chicago Fire

Comments

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  • I REALLY don't want to see this, or even read/think about the possibilities. The Columbus double-debacle is still too fresh in my painful memory files. Might just be a lot easier to deal with reading about it after the fact.

  • John Kass, in his recent takedown of the Fire, accuses Hauptman of being a meddler and a micro-manager.

    Critical fans, however, continually charge Hauptman with being an uninvolved, absentee owner.

    Guillermo, any insight into which claim is true???

  • In reply to Charles Jogues:

    I don't think he's not involved. I think that fan criticism comes from the fact that he's based in LA and not here for every game. He's got a say, if not the final say, on everything that goes down with the club.

    There's also a little bit of a myth that he doesn't care. That isn't true. He does care what the results are and he absolutely cares about what people say about the team. Caring and knowing how to get results from a professional sports franchise/culture/organization are different things however.

  • In reply to Charles Jogues:

    You forgot cheapskate on your list of critical fan accusations!

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    In reply to Charles Jogues:

    Fans accuse him of being uninvolved and absentee because for someone who is the de facto president of the club he never makes statements. He hasn't addressed the press since October of 2013, and hasn't address fans since March/April of 2014.

  • The league and the sport are now part of the national sports landscape. What really kills me is that Chicago MLS franchise should be relevant in this town. But obviously it is not. I can't count how many times someone has seen me wearing something with the team logo and thought it was for the Chicago Fire Department. I parked my car at the short term lot at O'Hare last week. They have each level marked with a sports team and a song to help you remember where you parked. There are six levels - Cubs, Sox, Bears, Bulls, Blackhawks, and ... the freakin' Chicago Wolves. The small section of Chicago Fire merchandise at Sports Authority has a placard with a picture of Austin Berry on it.
    I love soccer so it's still a treat to go out and see a game live. But, I can barely work up the will to turn on the game tomorrow. There's nothing to play for and no personalities of note to root for. I can't get excited over a victory but am, pretty much, resigned to them losing.

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    In reply to Doug:

    Ha! There's not even a Fire merch section at the Sports Authority by me (Clark and Halsted)! The only time I see any Fire merch is maybe a kids jersey got returned (either from online or another store) and they stick it in some random rack.

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    Gotta agree with you Doug. I have so many stories about folks asking me about my "service" with the CFD. I stopped trying to explain that I am not a civil servant ... just a dumb fan of inconsequential Chicago sports team.

    Then on the flip side if I wear my "Chicago Sting" gear ... it never fails to get "Go Sting" shout or some such comment.

    Something is drastically wrong with this franchise. And I am tired of trying to figure it out.

    Sad commentary about what should be a great Chicago institution.

  • Since it's a meaningless game the Fire probably will win.
    They have much more difficulty winning meaningful games.

  • This might be the first away game I deliberately miss. On the plus side, I will be able to catch the MLS highlights and the Fireconf post-game. =)

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    Robert, your comments are spot on. Several times while wearing my Fire jersey around the city I have people come up to me and mention what a great job the Fire department does in serving the city. My license plate reads FIREFC 1. I picked it 18 years ago and now would no longer have added the FC (or #1 for that matter). I was pulled over a few weeks back and the policeman wanted to know if I worked for the Fire department. I told him it was for the Chicago Fire soccer team and he just gave me a puzzled look and then wrote up my ticket. I have a couple of Sting shirts and I always get comments of appreciation. What a difference!

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    In reply to Michael Stammer:

    @Mike Stammer:

    Yes it is a really sad commentary about this organization (or lack thereof). The Sting has not played a meaningful game in 30 yrs but yet a Sting jersey or tee-shirt will never fail to get a comment or start a conversation. While a Fire cap or shirt draws yawns.

    I must be honest though - I never liked the "Fire" moniker. It was used by other extinct teams previously and seemed so generic and I felt is had a "loser mojo". I would have preferred something more distinctive .. or at least something simple like Chicago FC.

    I am sure that winning would solve many of these name problems but until them the Sting name still resonates with Chicago sports fans while the Fire name is confused with the CFD or the popular TV program.

    Just a small reason why I suspect this organization is not qualified to lead a major market club and is doomed to lead us to the cellar of the MLS for many more seasons.

    In the meantime I will keep praying that Rocky Wirtz will see an opportunity here to further enhance his image. Come on Rocky save us!

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    Occasionally I've worn my warm-up jersey on flights and and least 2 times I've had AA airline staff ask if I was on the team LOL Around town not so much. In fact I've had more comments on it when outside of Chicago (Toronto, New England, etc). :(

  • In reply to Jeff S:

    FWIW I live on the East Coast and the Fire gear I weat never, ever gets any recognition (I wear a Fire hat basically year round), except with some of the other dads on my kids' soccer team.

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