With a near full complement of players, the season on the line, and a chance to host the US Open Cup Final at home, one would have expected this match to feature an all-out effort worthy of carrying or at least acknowledging the weight of this match from the Fire. That wasn't the case.
Despite what appeared to be a first choice starting line-up that included the debut of new Designated Player Gilberto, what was actually put forward on display was an aggregate of everything that is wrong with the Fire on the pitch. Failed and underperforming DPs, lack of creativity from the middle of the park, chances upon chances given up at alarming rates, and little done in terms of correcting what isn't working were laid bare once again. Because the Union were almost as incompetent as the Fire in front of goal the score was level at the half. The home team took some comfort in at least creating the opportunities.
The same could not be said for the Fire, whose first shot on goal came in the 45th minute when David Accam managed to get to a loose ball and forced Philadelphia 'keeper John McCarthy into a save. Accam was substituted in the 58th minute and looked to be missing that final gear which has made him so dangerous when he has been on the field and fit this season. The residual effect of the hamstring tweak suffered in the Portland game last Friday obviously hampered him in this match. The fact that he was replaced by Jason Johnson, who was as bad in this game as he was in Portland and not Patrick Nyarko is another story.
By the time Sebastien LeToux gave the Union the lead in the 74th minute it had become all too obvious what the outcome would be. After a give away by Matt Polster, Jeff Larentowicz and Razvan Cocis couldn't close LeToux down fast enough and just like that, the Fire's 2015 season became another bitter disappointment. The playoffs remain a mathematical possibility but anyone with two eyes and an objective perspective knows that the final twelve games of yet another debacle of a campaign are nothing but formality.
There was little in redeeming quality about this match. No one can come away happy with the effort, save the 100-plus hopeful souls who traveled to Philadelphia to watch a disjointed repeat of the Portland match on Friday. The Fire couldn't string together passes, failed to generate anything cohesive offensively, while looking like eleven men who had just been introduced to each other before kick off.
There are a few points of interest remaining in the season but none are particularly positive. Does Frank Yallop now entertain increased offers from Hull City for Shaun Maloney? How long will Yallop be around to field those offers? What will change if he's not? What of Gilberto, who left the match with a leg injury after an auspicious 20 minute debut?
The questions surrounding yet another rebuild of sorts can't be avoided.
The Fire had a chance to take a huge step in redeeming a season and perhaps the club but once again failed miserably.
GK S. Johnson
D Palmer, Gehrig, Larentowicz, Jones
M Shipp, Polster (Magee 77'), Cocis, Accam (J. Johnson 67')
F Maloney, Gilberto (Igboananike 21')
Not used: Busch, Nyarko, Stephens, Watson