Philadelphia Union vs Chicago Fire Match Preview

Apr 2, 2016; Chicago, IL, USA; Philadelphia Union midfielder Ilsinho (25) heads the ball against Chicago Fire defender Michael Harrington (5) during the first half at Toyota Park. Mandatory Credit: Mike DiNovo-USA TODAY Sports
Apr 2, 2016; Chicago, IL, USA; Philadelphia Union midfielder Ilsinho (25) heads the ball against Chicago Fire defender Michael Harrington (5) during the first half at Toyota Park. Mandatory Credit: Mike DiNovo-USA TODAY Sports /

The Philadelphia Union travel to the Windy City as they look to extend their winning streak and away win streak to three games.

The Ins and Outs

Philadelphia Union 11-9-7, 40 points vs Chicago Fire 5-12-8, 23 points

Saturday at 8:30 p.m., Toyota Park

Pro Assigned Referees: REF: Ted Unkel, AR1: Eric Boria, AR2: Logan Brown 4TH: Marcos De Oliveira.

Coaches: Jim Curtin, Philadelphia Union; Veljko Paunovic, Chicago Fire.

Where to Watch: The Comcast Network, CSN Plus, MLS Live.

By The Goals: Philadelphia Union 47 goals for, 41 goals against; Chicago Fire 29 goals for, 40 goals against.

Last Games: Philadelphia Union home vs Sporting Kansas City, 2-0 win; Chicago Fire away at DC United, 6-2 loss.

Record Setters

The Philadelphia Union travel to Chicago after a record-setting win last Saturday vs Sporting Kansas City. 8 home wins on the season, after earning the 2-0 win vs SKC, the previous franchise record was 7.

After last week’s record-setting performance, the Philadelphia Union have a chance to tie three more records. If the Union beat Chicago they would have 12 wins on the season, a third straight victory, and three straight road victories. All would match the previous club highs.

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Winger Chris Pontius will look to add to his assist total, his next assist would give him a new career high of six assists. Rookie of the Year candidate, Keegan Rosenberry, will likely continue his streak of minutes played. He is the only player in MLS to play every minute this season, currently sitting at 2,430 minutes (which does not include stoppage time or the MLS All-Star Game)

Who will Replace Andre Blake?

Saturday will be the first time Coach Jim Curtin puts out a new lineup, since the Toronto FC game. Curtin likes the old “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” approach. He tends to play the same lineup’s when the team has good results on the pitch, even if it is on short rest.

However, the match against the Chicago Fire will be different. The Union will be without top Goalkeeper, Andre Blake. He will be manning the net for Jamaica’s “Reggae Boyz” in their World Cup Qualifiers.

So what does this mean for the lineup? We could see a completely Starting XI, Chicago is currently last in the league and it would be good a time as any to get some young faces first team reps, but Curtin doesn’t strike me as the Coach who want’s to see what he has for the future in the midst of a playoff race. So the lineup will likely feature very small changes.

Related Story: Are the Philadelphia Union Playoff Bound?

Curtin already made it known, that Goalkeeper John McCarthy will get the starting nod while Blake is away. This will be his first MLS game of the season, he has spent time with the Bethlehem Steel. While with the Steel McCarthy has posted a 1.27 Goals Allowed Average and sporting a 4-3-4 record. Last year McCarthy posted a 3-5-3 record in 11 games for the Union, with 2 shutouts and a 1.63 GAA.


There’s a high probability we will see Roland Alberg inserted back into the Starting XI to replace the other Union player on international leave, Alejandro Bedoya. The midfielder will likely start for the United States Men’s National Team as he is a favorite for the Jurgen Klinsmann coached squad, in their World Cup Qualifiers.

Alberg in all probability would play the 10, while Tranquillo Barnetta slid down to the 8 to replace Bedoya.

Since the acquisition of Bedoya, Alberg has been the odd man out for the Union starting lineup. As a super sub, he has absolutely killed the opposition’s tired legs. Alberg has a league-high 0.88 goals per 90 minutes average — that’s almost a goal per game!

The last time he played the Chicago Fire, he scored a hat-trick in the 4-3 victory at Talen Energy Stadium. So he seem’s like the obvious choice for the start.

Aside from those two additions Curtin really doesn’t like to make changes, so the rest of the lineup will likely stay as is.

What to Expect

The Chicago Fire are not having a good year, by any means. Currently last in the Eastern Conference standings and just lost 6-2 to DC United, but as the saying goes the only place to go from here is up. The Fire have nothing to lose and will likely play very loose. The Philadelphia Union need all the points they can at this point of the season and will go for the win at all costs.

The two sides split the first two games, both winning at home. The first game came in the beginning of the season and Chicago ended the Union’s two-game winning streak. The game was a cold one, even featuring a bit of snow. The Union played the last 25 or so minutes with just 10 men, as Warren Creavalle was sent off with a red card.

In the second game, as highlighted above Roland Alberg scored 3 goals, Ilsinho added his first of the season, to give the Union a 4-3 win.

Next: Philadelphia Union Game Plan for Dispatching the Fire

Although the Philadelphia Union will be without Andre Blake, they are still the favorites in this one. The result is never really in question as they go on to win, by a score of 3-1. Goals coming from Alberg, C.J. Sapong, and Chris Pontius.