BRIDGEVIEW – The Philadelphia Union put a serious crimp in the Chicago Fire’s plans for home field advantage in the postseason, outclassing the home side in a 3-1 victory at Toyota Park.
And it happened almost from the start, with a fired up Union putting Chicago on their heels from the whistle.
They found net in the seventh minute when Union forward Danny Cruz found Jack McInerney with a through pass that split the Fire defense. McInerny beat goalkeeper Sean Johnson to score his team-leading sixth goal of the season.
Chicago gradually came back into the game game, and nearly found the equalizer when midfielder Daniel Paladini’s free kick pinged off the post in the 19th minute. Just past the half hour, the Fire got another look as Chris Rolfe got loose in the box, but his shot was parried wide by Zac MacMath.
Philly put the pedal down in the second half behind substitute Gabriel Gomez. The midfielder doubled the Philadelphia lead in the 67thth minute, when he drove a line-drive shot upper-90 off a nice headed flick from McInerney.
Chicago answered two minutes later, though, as Dominic Oduro settled a pass from Patrick Nyarko and poked a dribbling shot through Sheanon Williams’ legs and past MacMath.
The Fire, desperate to pull ahead of New York for second in the East, threw all their offensive options at the Union, putting Oduro, Guillermo Franco and Alex into the game while leaving Rolfe and fellow forward Sherjill MacDonald in.
It wasn’t enough, especially after Franco received a red card in the 79th minute for a high tackle on Brian Carroll.
The Fire had one last chance, when Patrick Nyarko stole the ball from Ramon Gaddis inside the penalty area, but Alex’s shot was blocked.
With Chicago pushing forward, Michael Farfan found Antoine Hoppenot for a back-heel into an open goal in the 86th minute.
The Fire have scored just one goal in two losses in the last six days, while the Union have scored eight goals in their last three, winning twice.
The win was Philadelphia’s first on the road since July 4th. They’ll try to continue their hot offensive run when they host New England on Saturday.
The Fire hadn’t lost at home since July 8th. They’re now third in the East behind New York on total goals, and remain just five points ahead of sixth-place Columbus with three games left. Chicago will head to New York on Saturday to try to break the deadlock with the Red Bulls.