Despite a second half man advantage, the Union could not find their scoring touch and suffered a 2-0 loss at the hands of the Chicago Fire in Bridgeview, IL on Saturday night.
Union starting XI: Blake; Wagner, Collin, Elliott, Gaddis; Medunjanin, Creavalle, Bedoya, Montiero; Collin, Elliott, Gaddis; Medunjanin, Creavalle (Ilsinho HT), Bedoya, Montiero; Fabian, Przybylko
Chicago starting XI: Kronholm; Kappelhof, Schweinsteiger, Calvo, Bornstein; Bronico, McCarty, Gaitan; Frankowski, Nikolic, Sapong
The first half wasn’t a good one for the boys in blue. The Fire controlled the run of play in the first 15 minutes, but couldn’t create chances. The Union had the edge in possession for the rest of the half, but they kept making turnovers before they could penetrate into the final third. The lack of chances allowed the Fire to take the lead in the 38th minute when Przemyslaw Frankowski crossed to Nemanja Nikolic who chipped the ball over a diving Andre Blake.
It got worse for the Union when Aurelien Collin pulled down C.J. Sapong in the box in the 44th minute giving Chicago a penalty kick. Nikolic took the shot, Andre Blake guessed wrong, and the Fire were going to take a two goal lead into halftime.
But wait! There’s more! But this time a good thing for the Union. In stoppage time Nico Gaitan went studs up on Jamiro Monteiro and Gaitan was sent off with a red card. The boys in blue were down by two, but they would have a man advantage going into the second half. There was reason to hope for the Union faithful.
But the Union fans would be disappointed. The Fire parked the bus and waited for opportunities for the counterattack. It didn’t take long for that strategy to almost pay dividends. Two minutes into the half, Nicolic and Sapong raced toward the goal on the counter, but the Union dodged a bullet when Sapong hit the crossbar after receiving Nikolic’s cross.
The Fire didn’t generate many more chances after that. The Union dominated possession throughout the second half and managed to get several shots off, but they had difficulty getting the ball on frame. Alejandro Bedoya had a great look when his shot off an Ilsinho cross went wide of the goal. Kacper Przybylko and Andrew Wooten both had opportunities towards the end of the match but both went wide. At the death of the match, a Jack Elliott header went right to Chicago goalkeeper Kenneth Kromholm. The Union would end up with 18 shots, most in the second half, but only three of them on goal. That says it all.
The Union are coming home empty on this road trip and it remains to be seen of they will still be in first place at the end of the weekend. If Atlanta United beat Portland on Sunday night, their time at the top of the table will come to an end.
UPDATE: Atlanta defeated Portland 2-0, so now the Union have finally fallen out of first place.
At least now they get to enjoy three straight matches at home. However, these won’t be easy games, with the opponents being DC United, Atlanta United and LAFC. The next three matches could make or break the Union’s season.
- Union head coach Jim Curtin tried to generate offense with his substitutions, bringing in Ilsinho for Warren Creavalle, Andrew Wooten for Raymon Gaddis and Brenden Aaronson for Aurlien Collin. None of those moves worked.
- Blake suffered a thigh injury when he collided with someone in the first half. Joe Bendik started warming up but Blake stayed in the game.
- This was Monteiro’s first start since July 3rd, but he still hasn’t found the form that made him so invaluable in the season’s first half.