Coming off their worst performance of the season, the Philadelphia Union look to re-establish themselves as the Eastern Conference’s top team when they play host to the Chicago Fire on Saturday.
The Union didn’t manage a single shot on goal in a 4-0 loss to Real Salt Lake last Saturday. Philadelphia suffered its largest margin of defeat in almost three full years.
Head coach Jim Curtin described the loss as “a good wake-up call” for the Union, who are just 1-2-2 in their last five matches.
“We have a bad taste in our mouth in a lot of ways,” Curtin said. “I think we were outplayed in all three phases of the game — offense, defense and restarts. So [there is] a lot to improve, a lot to work on ... I think it was eye-opening to the group and I expect a good response from the group against Chicago.”
Ilsinho (adductor strain) and Warren Creavalle (broken foot) could return to Philadelphia’s lineup on Saturday. Midfielder Jamiro Monteiro and forward Sergio Santos are both questionable due to ankle injuries. The Union added goalkeeper Joe Bendik in a trade with the Columbus Crew on Friday.
A victory on Saturday would ensure that the Union (10-6-6, 36 points) retain first place in the East through the weekend.
The Fire, meanwhile, are struggling just to get back into the playoff race after posting a 1-6-4 record in their last 11 games in all competitions.
This slump likely means some significant roster changes are coming while the transfer window is open. Team president and general manager Nelson Rodriguez said on Wednesday that the Fire (5-9-8, 23 points) are discussing signings and trades with several players and teams.
“We have shown, I think, a more than reasonable amount of patience for the group to come together and to gel,” Rodriguez said. “That hasn’t happened, and so now I’ll also be more aggressive in seeking opportunities rather than waiting to see what may come our way.”
Saturday will mark Chicago’s third match in eight days. The Fire had to settle for a 2-2 draw against Columbus on Wednesday after conceding a 90th minute goal to striker Romario Williams.
Chicago is winless (0-16-6) in its last 22 road games in league play, a streak dating back to May 26, 2018.
—Field Level Media