The Philadelphia Union were back to full strength against Atlanta United. The Union’s lack of taking their chances ended up dooming them against Atlanta. With the loss the union fell below the playoff line. On a short turn-around Philly travels to the windy city to take on Chicago. The Union have a chance to jump the Fire in standings, moving from 8th to 7th place. Our Philly Sports Network Crew Preview if the Union will be able to take those crucial three points.
Here we go again. Wednesday night the boys in blue will attempt to win on the road for the second time in 2018. This time the Union travel to Toyota Park to take on the Chicago Fire. Sitting only two points behind the club from the windy city for 7th place in the conference, and with a game in hand, the Union could make some forget about their last two losses if they were to pull off the victory. Sorry, but a draw won’t calm any nerves after the last two shutouts.
Third year head coach, and former Union midfielder, Veljko Paunovic, needs to be selective when choosing his lineup for Wednesday. Unlike the Union who have an exhibition match Saturday vs. Eintracht Frankfurt, the Fire have to travel to steamy Dallas for a tough regular season match-up. Look for Paunovic to sit at least one or two starters in the mid-week contest. The Fire have had a season similar season to the Union; they’ve just scored more and have given up more goals. Led by last year’s Golden Boot winner, Nemanja Nikolic, and newcomer and Serbian international, Aleksander Katai, both with eight goals, Chicago isn’t lacking for scoring punch. Add Bastian Schweinsteiger, who might want redemption after his previous performance vs. the Union, and the Fire provide a formidable opponent.
This could be the Union’s best shot at a win in July. Soon they’ll be hosting the Galaxy, who are beginning to click, and then at Houston which is always a difficult place to play. Coach Curtin can empty the tank on this one since they don’t play a match of actual significance for another week. Now, to the elephant in the room. If he starts C.J. Sapong, and he doesn’t score and they don’t win, Curtin should not bother taking the plane back to Philly International. My gut tells me even he knows he can’t go back to the well another time, and will start Cory Burke at forward. Haris Medunjanin, Mark McKenzie and Auston Trusty all had games they’d like to forget against Atlanta and they’ll have to be in better form to pull off the victory.
Prediction: Fire: 2 Union: 2
Union man of the match: Borek Dockal
Coming off of a defeat to Atlanta at home where the Union looked decent. The only problem lied in their attacking movement, and finishing. When your target striker isn’t a target in the box, then you know there are major problems! The Union’s attack was led by Borek Dockal, who would often find space to play the ball on the wings. Ilsinho and Fafa Picault looked to cross into the box. Time and time again CJ Sapong was making the wrong run to attack the ball. His play has been poor, and the Union’s attack has suffered as a result.
The Union take their attacking issues with them to Chicago to face the Fire in a crucial mid-week match. To best the Fire, the Union will need to do what they did the last time the two sides met.
The last time out, the Union dismantled the Fire. Borek Dockal and Ilsinho picked them apart. They will need to do so again for the Union to get the W. Some helpful play from a striker would be helpful as well. Whether CJ Sapong gets the start again or Corey Burke gets the nod, successful striker play will help the Union take advantage of Chicago’s suspect defense.
The Fire are coming off a tough loss, and will be up to set things right at home. They’ll look to get their play makers on the ball to frustrate the young Union back line. Nemanja Nikolic has been a pest in the past; Trusty and McKenzie will have to be up for the challenges he brings. Bastian Shweinsteigerand and Dax McCarty will try to dominate the middle of the field for Chicago. Haris Medunjanin and Alejandro Bedoya cannot allow that to happen!
All in all, these are two eastern conference clubs that need all three points to keep up with the east. Both have struggled so far in 2018, so a draw would be a result that makes the most sense. However, I think the Union find a way to win this match, thanks in large part to their keeper Andre Blake!
Prediction: Fire: 0 Union: 1
Union Man of the Match: Andre Blake
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Mandatory Credit: James Lang-USA TODAY Sports