CHICAGO, Ill. (Oct. 3, 2012) – The Chicago Fire (16-10-5; 53 points) had chances to earn a comeback once again but Dominic Oduro’s 69th minute goal wasn’t enough as the short-handed Men in Red fell 3-1 to the Philadelphia Union (9-15-6; 33 points) Wednesday night at Toyota Park.
The Union would take the lead early when Amobi Okugo’s ball out of the back found Danny Cruz. The midfielder collected and turned before sliding the ball into stride for Jack McInerney who coolly finished past onrushing Fire goalkeeper Sean Johnson, giving Philadelphia a 1-0 advantage in the seventh minute.
The Fire looked to respond 11 minutes later when Sherjill MacDonald slid a great ball through for Chris Rolfe before the veteran forward was hauled down by Union midfielder Michael Lahoud. Daniel Paladini stepped up to take the ensuing free kick and hit a belting right footed effort that beat Philadelphia ‘keeper Zac MacMath before hitting the outside of the left post in the 19th minute.
Philadelphia would nearly hit again in the 26th minute when Michael Farfan slid Cruz into space up the right. The Union midfielder took a touch towards the end line before driving a ball across the goal mouth that Johnson put out for a corner with a diving effort.
Chicago came close once in the 34th minute when Patrick Nyarko made a penetrating run to the top of the area before playing a quick combination with Rolfe into the box. The ball was turned away by a sliding tackle from Okugo but Rolfe followed up with a first-time blast that forced a diving stop out of MacMath to take the Union into the break with a 1-0 lead.
The Fire came out furious in the early going of the second half. Nyarko forced a turnover from Raymon Gaddis on the right and strolled towards the top of the area before being hauled down. Paladini again took the ensuing free kick, bending his effort towards the left post before MacMath again directed the ball out for a corner in the 47th minute.
Midway through the second half, the Men in Red began to press with the entry of Dominic Oduro and Guillermo Franco into the match but pushing forward, the team would go down 2-0 in the 67th minute. Farfan chipped a high ball forward for McInerney whose header found Gabriel Gomez in stride before the second half sub rocketed his effort past Johnson and into the top left corner.
Down 2-0, the Fire would finally pull a goal back just two minutes later. Tireless work from Nyarko up the left led the Ghanaian to play a quick combination with Franco. Nyarko received the ball into the box before chipping for Oduro on the right and the Fire forward made no mistake, tucking his effort just inside the right post to take the score to 2-1.
The Fire nearly equalized in the 75th minute when MacDonald slotted Nyarko up the left again. The veteran winger cut inside before finding Oduro on the right again but this time his shot was blocked with a desperate slide from Sheanon Williams.
The Fire were dealt a major blow in the 79th minute when Franco was shown a straight red card for a late challenge at midfield on Philadelphia’s Brian Carroll.
Down to 10 men the rest of the way, the Fire still mustered another chance to equalize in the 85th minute. Once again it was Nyarko who forced the issue, dispossessing Okugo before Alex ran on to the ball. The Brazilian attacker hit a quick first-time effort that was saved point blank by MacMath.
Committing numbers forward, Philadelphia would close out the game in the 87th minute when Farfan ran onto a ball up the right and took it towards the end line. The midfielder held up before picking out second half substitute Antoine Hoppenot who coolly back heeled his effort past Johnson to give Philadelphia a 3-1 victory.
The Men in Red are back in action Saturday when they take on the New York Red Bulls, also at 53 points, at Red Bull Arena in Harrison, NJ at 2:30 p.m. CT in a match nationally televised on NBC (97.5 FM ESPN Deportes).
- The Fire celebrated the club’s 15th Anniversary by honoring Fire legends Peter Nowak, Cuauhtémoc Blanco and Chris Armas at halftime.
- With the loss, the Fire fall to 16-10-5 on the season and sit third in the Eastern Conference on 53 points.
- The defeat marks just the second time this season the Fire have lost two-straight games.
- Fire captain Logan Pause logged 45 minutes in his 300th competitive appearance for the Men in Red.
- Dismissed from last Friday’s 2-0 defeat at Sporting KC, Fire head coach Frank Klopas and defender Gonzalo Segares both served one-match suspensions during Wednesday night’s game.
- Dominic Oduro’s 69th minute goal was his sixth on the season and first since a 2-1 victory vs. Columbus on June 23.
- Sent off in the 79th minute, Fire forward Guillermo Franco will miss Saturday’s game at New York.
- Filling in for Segares, Fire defender Dan Gargan made his first start since a 1-1 draw July 28 at San Jose.
- Fire defender Gonzalo Segares, who was booked twice by referee Chris Penso, will miss the Oct. 3 match as well.
Chicago Fire 1 – 3 Philadelphia Union
Chicago Fire: Sean Johnson; Jalil Anibaba, Arne Friedrich, Austin Berry, Dan Gargan (Alex 77’); Alvaro Fernandez (Guillermo Franco 63’; red card 79’), Logan Pause © (Dominic Oduro 46’), Daniel Paladini, Patrick Nyarko; Chris Rolfe, Sherjill MacDonald
Substitutes not used: Paolo Tornaghi, Michael Videira, Corben Bone, Wells Thompson
Philadelphia Union: Zac MacMath; Sheanon Williams, Amobi Okugo, Carlos Valdes ©, Raymon Gaddis; Michael Lahoud, Brian Carroll, Michael Farfan; Danny Cruz (Gabriel Gomez 45+’), Keon Daniel (Chris Albright 78’), Jack McInerney (Antoine Hoppenot 71’)
Substitutes not used: Chris Konopka, Zach Pfeffer, Roger Torres, Chandler Hoffman
PHI – Jack McInerney (Danny Cruz) 7’
PHI – Gabriel Gomez (Jack McInerney) 67’
CHI – Dominic Oduro (unassisted) 69’
PHI – Antoine Hoppenot (Michael Farfan) 87’
PHI – Michael Lahoud (caution; Foul) 18’
CHI – Austin Berry (caution; Dissent) 45’
PHI – Sheanon Williams (caution; Time Wasting) 78’
CHI – Guillermo Franco (ejection; Foul) 79’
Referee: Abbey Okulaja
Assistants: Kermit Quissenberry, Peter Manikowski
Fourth Official: Edvin Jurisevic