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Union overcome disastrous start to draw Chicago 2-2



Photo courtesy of the Philadelphia Union

The Union tried to roll into Chicago with mostly the same starting XI that drew 2-2 with Atlas Wednesday night in the CCL quarterfinal second leg. For most of the game, that plan appeared to have backfired. The Union conceded two soft goals during a lackluster opening sixty minutes but scored two second-half goals minutes apart to draw the Chicago Fire 2-2 Saturday night at
Soldier Field.

The Union (2-4-2) are 0-3-2 in the last five league games, continuing the worst stretch since the 2018 season. Despite giving up the lead, the Fire (2-1-4) are 2-0-3 since losing to the Union back on March 11.

A weary Union side, minus Kai Wagner, who re-aggravated a hamstring injury in the first half of CCL action, were fine sitting back playing for the counter and had a couple good chances early with that plan. Mikael Uhre came closest in the 7th minute when he broke free down the right side, but his wide-angled shot hit the side netting. A minute later, Chicago almost pulled off the impossible when defender Arnaud Souquet’s clearance traveled over 70 yards, catching Andre Blake well off his line. The clear beat Blake but landed on the top-side of the net.

Chicago began knocking on the door 10 minutes later. Kei Kamara, the league’s active leader in goals (142) came close twice. His second came on a free shot off a deflected clearance that missed the near post from just outside the six. Chicago finally broke through in the 19th minute through Maren Haile-Selassie. The Fire, gaining momentum, attacked down the Union right side with Miguel Navarro overlapping Chris Mueller before sending a low cross behind the Union backline. With multiple Union players ball-watching, Haile-Selassie was able to control the ball inside the six before tapping it home for his first goal of the season. The Union have now allowed the first goal in six of their eight MLS games this season.

The Union didn’t help themselves coming out of the break, conceding an own goal two minutes into the second half. Chicago combined down the Union left side with a dangerous ball into the box, and Jakob Glesnes’ clearance bounced off Nathan Harriel, beating Blake to the far post.

The Fire appeared to be running away with the game following the goal as they pushed forward with more chances to extend their lead. Haile-Selassie almost scored his second in the 56th minute off a Glesnes giveaway, but Blake made a strong save to deny the Fire winger. Fire center back Rafael Czichos had a sitter just outside the six yard box three minutes later that he
blasted over the bar.

But Czichos handed the Union a lifeline three minutes later when he hacked down Uhre just inside the box. Referee Ismael Elfath pointed to the spot, and Gazdag buried the penalty for his third on the season, all from penalties.

The Union evened the game quickly after. Quinn Sullivan, just into the game, dribbled down the left side and picked out Gazdag at the far post. A poised Gazadag headed the ball back across the goal and Carranza finished it off for his third in two games and his first league goal since his opening day brace in February. The Union carried play for several minutes after the goal but couldn’t finish their chances. Sullivan had a great look in the 73rd minute off a through-ball from Gazdag, but the Union forward pulled his shot wide. Jose Martinez, yet to score for the Union, almost became the hero when he smacked the post in the 80th minute off a shot from close range.

The Fire’s Georgios Koutsias and Xherdan Shaqiri, both on midway through the second half, linked up twice to nearly put the home side back on top. Koutsias found himself free down the right side of the Union defense in the 82nd minute but found the side netting off the near post. A minute later, Shaqiri put him through over the top, but his touch over Blake hit the underside of
the bar and bounced out.

The game opened up in the final minutes with both teams trading opportunities to claim three points, but neither side had enough going forward to pull out a result. The Union will be back home next Saturday against Toronto FC. Kickoff is scheduled for 7:30

CHI: Haile-Selassie 19’
CHI: Harriel (OG) 47’
PHI: Gazdag (PK) 63’
PHI: Carranza 65’

Yellow Cards:
CHI: Herbers 66’
PHI: Gazdag 90’+2
PHI: Curtin 90’+4
CHI: Giménez 90’+4

Union: Blake, Mbaizo (Real 64’), Glesnes, Elliott, Harriel, Martinez, Bedoya, McGlynn (Bueno
90’), Gazdag, Uhre (Sullivan 64’), Carranza
Unused subs: Bendik, Craig, Lowe, Bueno, Perea, Torres, Donovan

Chicago Fire: Brady, Navarro, Czichos, Terán (Burks 58’), Souquet, Herbers (Casas Jr. 80’),
Giménez (Pineda 46’), Mueller, Gutiérrez (Koutsias 66’), Haile-Selassie, Kamara (Shaqiri 66’)

Unused subs: Gal, Omsberg, Dean, Przybylko

Greg Oldfield is a teacher, coach, and writer from the Philadelphia area. His fiction and nonfiction have been published in Barrelhouse, Maudlin House, Carve, and the Under Review, among others. He also writes for the Florida Cup and Florida Citrus Sports. In 2023, he received an award for Best Column from the United Soccer Coaches for his story "A Philadelphia Soccer Hollywood Story." His work can also be found at

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