The Fire came away from their first meeting of the season with Philadelphia without the result they wanted, and a renewed focus for the stretch run of the regular season. Here's a brief look at some of the takeaways from Saturday's 3-1 road defeat:
Ins and Outs
The Fire welcomed back Michael de Leeuw (suspension) as well as Joao Meira (calf injury) when the Starting XI was announced on Saturday night, but midfielders Bastian Schweinsteiger and Juninho remained absent with a calf injury and left knee injury, respectively. With a difficult midweek trip to San Jose preceding next Saturday’s key showdown with NYCFC at Toyota Park, time will tell as to when Schweinsteiger or Juninho will be able to retake their place in the Fire lineup. Chicago (48 points) stands four points back of second-place New York City FC in the East with four games remaining in the regular season, and is likely to be in a battle with Columbus (47 points) and Atlanta (46 points) down the stretch.
After not seeing one of their fellow Eastern Conference competitors for the first six-and-a-half months of the MLS season, the Fire won’t have to wait long to seek a modicum of revenge on the Philadelphia Union. Longtime Fire standout and current Union head coach Jim Curtin will bring his side to Toyota Park on Sunday, October 15 (just three games from now) to stand as the opposition in the Fire’s final regular season home contest. The game is shaping up to be of great consequence for the Men In Red in their pursuit of playoff positioning, so they will want to atone for Saturday’s performance. It marked only the second loss for Chicago in its last 10 outings against Philadelphia, leaving the all-time series tied at seven wins for each side with five draws.
The Fire have two road matches remaining, both against Western Conference opponents, in which they will aim to end their away schedule on a high note. The Fire are now 3-8-4 away from Toyota Park this season, having dropped five of their last six road matches, scoring more than one goal only once in that stretch. The Men In Red travel to San Jose on Wednesday and Houston on the final day of the regular season — two cities the Fire have not visited since 2015 and two clubs battling hard for their place in the Western Conference playoff picture.
The Rest of the Story
• Saturday’s game at Philadelphia marked the 299th career MLS regular season appearance for Dax McCarty.
• Luis Solignac scored only seven minutes after entering the game as a second-half substitute. It was Solignac’s sixth goal this season and his first since August 5 vs. New England.
• Philadelphia conceded 58% possession to the Fire for the game but outshot the visiting side 15-11 on the night.
• Philadelphia striker C.J. Sapong scored for the first time in 13 career games against the Fire, netting the 50th goal of his MLS regular season career (197 GP).