After a great opening match to the season, the Union came back down to earth with a 2-0 loss against Inter Miami. In a game that saw Miami score two wonder goals, it never felt like the Union truly got their legs under them and had the game taken to them on a number of occasions.
They did not have much time to rebound after that with the opening leg of the 2023 CCL against Allianza to play. This game was a bit more different because the playing surface was certainly not the best quality. Both teams could not effectively dribble the ball down the field, which made the Union resort mostly to playing Route one soccer, also known as “hoofing the ball” up the field.
Philadelphia Union vs Chicago Fire Preview
Despite creating the better chances and nearly stealing an away victory in the heart of El Salvador, the Union was only able to battle to a scoreless draw with the second leg of the matchup coming up on Tuesday. Before that game, the Union has a home league game against a team that many have predicted to contend for the wooden spoon in the Chicago Fire. Let’s take a look to see how Chicago has fared so far this season, the player to watch out for, and a prediction for Saturday’s home matchup.
2023 MLS Season
The Chicago Fire did not have a lot of expectations for the 2022 MLS season. With a lot of unknowns as to what coach Ezra Hendrickson’s side would like, it was tough to get an idea of how they would perform on the field and where exactly the goals would come from. A lot of the pressure was going to fall on the likes of Swiss star Xherdan Shaqiri and former Union striker Kacper Przybylko. It’s safe to say that those players did not live up to the expectations that were set out.
The Fire was one of the first teams to be eliminated from playoff contention, finishing in twelfth place with a record of 10-15-9 or ten wins, fifteen losses, and nine draws. One of the surprises of the season was the form of young Columbian forward Jhon Duran, who had eight goals and six assists in twenty-eight games. Well, in a bit of good news for the player but bad news for the team, Duran was sold for a club-record transfer of close to $17 million to EPL side Aston Villa. This left a lot of questions for the 2023 season as to where, once again, would the goals come from in the Fire attack.
Those questions were not exactly answered in the first game of the season, a 1-1 draw against NYCFC, who have issues to address. So, at this point in the season, with not much to go on, it feels like the Chicago Fire is right where they were last season.
It feels tough picking any player on this roster other than Shaqiri or Przybylko that will make a difference against this Union defense. The player that I believe will make the biggest difference against the Union is one who made a massive difference in the away game against Chicago last season. This person is none other than former Orlando City winger Chris Mueller.
Mueller made a massive difference for the Fire in the game against the Union at Soldier Field. While the field conditions weren’t the best, Mueller was able to wreak havoc on the wing, turning Kai Wagner around and around in circles. Mueller is at his best when he can cut down the wing and get those crosses into the box.
While I’m not sure if he can replicate this on the road, it will be interesting to see if Mueller makes an impact against a Union defense that is certainly looking to rebound from their effort against Miami and continue on their resolute nature from the CCL match.
I fully expect Jim to return to the normal roster that he loves to trot out after rotating heavily in the CCL match. After an absolutely rough display versus Miami, the front three of Gazdag, Carranza and Uhre will be looking to get on the score sheet early and often against this Chicago Fire defense.
I’m not entirely sure how much this Fire defense will be able to handle a Union side looking to get back on the right page. After being held scoreless in both road matches this past week, it should come as no surprise that I predict the Union to put up a few goals against Chicago.
Put this writer down for a 4-0 result at home. Game time on Saturday is 7:30 pm.
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