CHICAGO — What a happy homecoming for Jim Curtin.
The Philadelphia Union interim manager, who spent eight seasons as a Fire defender during his playing days, saw his side swipe a late 1-1 draw in Chicago on Saturday night thanks to a stoppage-time penalty by Sebastien Le Toux.
The Fire will feel hard done by the result, as the deciding moment came on a questionable handball call against Chicago defender Gonzalo Segares.
With the home side nursing a 1-0 lead thanks to 60th minute Jeff Larentowicz header, the Fire appeared primed to hold on for their second home win of the season despite some late pressure from the visitors.
Everything changed in an instant when a speculative volley from Le Toux at the top of the box hit Segares on the upper part of his right arm, which was pinned against his chest. Le Toux made no mistake with the ensuing penalty however, and the Union stole a crucial point away from home.
The late drama capped a night with few chances for either team, as opportunities were hard to come by and defending was dominant.
Both teams entered the night on the back of wins in their previous games, and with aspirations of climbing further into Eastern Conference playoff picture at the expense of a rival.
The Union have now climbed to sixth in the East — even in points with fifth placed New England — having collected five points in the past eight days. The Fire are also on the rise and sit three points out of the playoff picture in eighth place.
Chicago are back in action on Wednesday, when they visit San Jose. Philadelphia doesn’t play a league match until August 1, but they go up against English Premier League side Crystal Palace in a friendly on Friday.