Fire burn Union late, win in Chicago 3-2

The Union dropped yet more points after the 75th minute as the Fire found a way to beat them 3-2 in Chicago on Sunday evening.

Despite leading for 51 minutes and only trailing for 15, the Union conceded another late goal to cough up points to a Chicago side who needed points to seal a home playoff match.

Union first XI: Blake; Fabinho, Elliott, Marquez, Gaddis; Medunjanin, Bedoya; Picault, Ilsinho, Pontius; Sapong

Fire first XI: Lampson; Polster, Kappelhof, Meira, Vincent; McCarty, Mihailovic; Alvarez, Conner, Solignac; Nikolic

The fireworks started early in this one as the Fire abandoned their patient tactics from last match and played more directly, and on a wet, slippery pitch, it immediately paid off as Brandon Vincent played a long ball down the left side which Golden Boot leader Nemanja Nikolic got on the end of, beating Jack Elliot and then Andre Blake with a smooth finish for a quick 1-0 lead. The Union responded just three minutes later though as C.J. Sapong crossed a ball into the box from Alejandro Bedoya to the back post which Johan Kappelhof attempted to clear away but knocked into his own net instead for an own goal. Tied at one, the Union pressed on, maintaining possession and pressure, and just seven minutes later, Bedoya took a bouncing Haris Medunjanin pass first-time, jumping up to chip it past the charging goalkeeper to make it 2-1, his second goal of the year.

The teams traded chances for the rest of the half as players slipped and slid on the pitch, which had been rained on substantially the night before. The half ended 2-1 with the Union up.

The second half saw the Union sit in and attempt to defend their lead, ceding possession to the Fire and trying to absorb pressure as the Fire brought on David Accam to try to get something going offensively. Accam delivered, drawing a penalty from referee Alan Chapman on a foul which appeared to occur just outside of the box. Nikolic struck a hard ball that snuck inside the post to Blake’s left, and tied the match at two each. The Fire continued to apply pressure, and the Union broke in the 78th minute as Nikolic took yet another Brandon Vincent cross at the top of the box and finished into the lower left corner past Blake to complete his hat trick and give the Fire the 3-2 lead, and eventually the win.

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