Fire vs. Union: Preview

Fire look for three points against MLS new boys


The Basics

Philadelphia Union (5-11-6, 21 points, seventh in Eastern Conference) vs.Chicago Fire (6-7-8, 26 points, fifth in East) at PPL Park in Chester, Pa.

Chicago won the teams' first-ever meeting in June, 2-1.

TV Info

6 p.m. ET, Fox Soccer Channel, Fox Sports en Español

Game Intro

With the stretch run upon us, this match between two Eastern Conference foes could do a lot to help shake out the playoff picture. If the Union have any intentions of reaching the postseason, a victory here is vital, while the Fire could distance themselves from the cellar by taking three big road points.

Philadelphia Union

Philadelphia come into the match following another disappointing result: a 1-1 draw with the Kansas City Wizards last weekend.

Dominant for much of the match, the Union were undone by some poor goalkeeping and their inability to finish their chances when they presented themselves.

Playing against his old team will be Union midfielder Justin Mapp, who was traded to the Union earlier in the season to make room for some of the Fire’s big acquisitions. Mapp enjoyed his time in Chicago but realizes that getting three points in this match is what matters.

“I want to win the game first,” Mapp said. “We need the three points. I think after it’s over, I’ll have a chance to catch up with some of the guys. They were great teammates.”

Chicago Fire

The Fire have a quick turnaround from their 0-0 draw against Toronto FC on Wednesday. Starting for Chicago was their Designated Player, Nery Castillo, who hasn’t found the net since joining Carlos de los Cobos’ club in July. The Mexican international will likely start against Philadelphia as he continues to gain fitness as the MLS playoffs near.

“He had a good game,” de los Cobos said of Castillo after his team’s 0-0 draw on Wednesday. “I’m very happy for him. Little by little he is playing with the level that he used to have. He’s [getting fitter], too, and that’s going to help him.”

Heroes & Villains

Justin Mapp vs. Freddie Ljungberg: Going up against the man who replaced him, Mapp will have his hands full with the veteran Ljungberg. Both players like to drift around the pitch and their creative tendencies coupled with a keen eye for a good through ball will provide the majority of the chances in the match. If the pair can provide quality for their respective teams, it could spell trouble for the opposing defenses.

Stat that makes you go “Hmm”

Philadelphia’s Sebastien Le Toux leads the league in shots on goal, while the Fire don’t have a player in the top 12 of that category.