On a cold, blustery early April day in Chicago, the Union were defeated 1-0 by the Fire.
Four minutes after referee Silviu Petrescu showed Union midfielder Warren Creavalle red for a late challenge from behind just after the second half started, Fire midfielder Kennedy Igboananike provided the deciding tally, taking the ball down with aplomb in the box, turning, and beating Andre Blake for the winner.
Sebastien Le Toux and Tranquillo Barnetta came on in the 66th minute for Chris Pontius and Roland Alberg, respectively. In the 78th, Fabian Herbers came on for Fabinho as the Union went to three in the back to push for the equalizer, which they could not find.
The teams split possession in the first half, although it was the Union with a 12-3 shot advantage and corner after corner with which they could do little. CJ Sapong hit the crossbar with a header and later the left post with a strike as the Union generated chance after chance but could not finish. Ilsinho later hit the crossbar with a ball Fire goalkeeper Matt Lampson just barely got a hand on. The boys in blue carried play into the second half, recording three shots in the half’s first couple minutes before Creavalle authored the rash challenge in the 47th minute that resulted in him being sent off and ultimately cost the Union at least one point.
Notes and impressions:
-Tranquillo Barnetta made his debut in this, the fourth game of the year, as a sub. Vincent Nogueira was also available for selection and in the 18 but did not appear. The Union are close to being full strength at this point, with only Maurice Edu now injured. I would expect both to be under heavy consideration for selection for the first eleven Friday.
-This was the first match I felt the Union received an unjust result. They got what they deserved for playing timidly in Dallas, were better than Columbus and New England and got wins there, but they didn’t deserve to lose this match today. They haven’t historically played well in Chicago, but they played very well right up to the point where Creavalle was sent off, and the points were there for the taking. It should have been at least a draw. Speaking of Creavalle…
-I love Warren’s athleticism. He’s got the tools to be a valuable cog in the machine in the midfield. Having said that, he needs to be better mentally, needs to play more under control. This is the second game where mental mistakes by him have been glaring; earlier this year, he was overrunning plays and being eliminated by simple passes because he wasn’t in the right position. He would do well to learn from Brian Carroll, who no longer has the athleticism he once did but makes up for it where he can by knowing the game and knowing where he has to be.
-Lack of points aside, it was a good performance by the Union. If they carry that form into the Orlando City game at home, they’ll be fine.