CHESTER, Pa.– The Chicago Fire aren't delivering quite as many dramatic last-minute comebacks as the San Jose Earthquakes, but when it comes to coming back to win games they have trailed in, the Fire have been as good as any team in MLS this year.
The Fire pulled off their latest comeback on Sunday night, erasing a 1-0 deficit with three unanswered goals to knock off Eastern Conference rival Philadelphia, 3-1, at PPL Park.
Chris Rolfe scored a pair of goals to help the Fire move past D.C. United into fourth place in the East, just three points behind second-place New York. The defeat was a crushing one for the Union, who now sit 13 points out of a playoff spot in the Eastern Conference.
The Union started off brightly in the first half, testing Chicago's defense and knocking the ball around well, but some there were some early signs that the Fire would cause problems for the Union defense, which played without All-Star centerback Carlos Valdes, who is on national team duty with Colombia. Bakary Soumare made his debut for the Union starting in place of Valdes, but even the presence of the 6-foot-4 centerback couldn't keep the Union defense from being overrun.
Freddy Adu helped give the Union a 1-0 lead in the 34th minute when he floated in a long cross into the penalty area that knocked off Fire defender Jalil Anibaba and into the net for an own goal.
The Union held the lead for just nine minutes before Rolfe and Arne Friedrich scored goals just before halftime to take the lead for good. Rolfe re-directed a Sherjill McDonald cross to tie the score before Friedrich beat Ray Gaddis to head home a Pappa corner kick.
Union head coach John Hackworth responded to the deficit by making the curious decision of removing Adu and inserting Antoine Hoppenot, a move that gave the team some attacking energy, but also took away the team's creativity.
With the Philadelphia attack failing to connect, the Fire took control and created a plethora of chances. Rolfe provided the insurance goal in the 56th minute when he beat Zac MacMath with a hard shot from 18 yards out to make the final score 3-1.
Soumare made his first MLS appearance since 2009, and he showed the rust to be expected for a player who was recovering from a knee injury and a lengthy layoff from regular playing time.
One player who did look sharp was Fire forward Sherjill McDonald, who troubled the Union with his quickness and movement. The designated player showed improvement from previous appearances since signing with the Fire last month.
The loss snapped a four-game home winning streak for the Union, who gave up three goals for the first time since a 3-2 loss to the New York Red Bulls on May 13th.
Fire goalkeeper Sean Johnson had a relatively easy night in his final match before joining the U.S. United national team for its match against Mexico on Wednesday.
Valdes wasn't the only Union player missing due to national team duty. Gabriel Gomez was with the Panamanian national team ahead of its upcoming friendly.
I was there and he looked good. Strong, fast and held the ball well. Skinned Soumare on the first goal. He’s gonna be good for Chicago and bad for everyone else.
Chicago was better but MacMath, good lord he gave them two goals. He needs to sit and get his act together.
I still don’t see it with Adu. He had one good corner (not scored by Garfan) and one not bad cross on which a defender spazzed out and put it in his own goal. Beyond that, I didn’t see anything special from him at all.
Gaddis is a serviceable backup. Good athlete and works hard. Hackworth tried something new in midfield and Gaddis had to step up. I think it really shows how there is ZERO trust in Lopez who hasn’t played in ages.
Why did Hoffman start and not Pajoy or Hoppenot? That one had me really wondering.
If MacMath doesn’t give up the third goal with terrible decision-making/positioning, then maybe Philly grabs an equalizer and everyone goes home happy.
I watched the game, albeit in Spanish, what did everyone think of macdonald?
I did. Adu was the brightest spot in the first half, but he formula now is double team Adu and yet no one seems to be taking advantage of that… For some reason it seems like when he’s on the pitch all Marfan does is sulk and wait for Adu to do something. Adu gets sent off and all of the sudden he has some attacking ideas? These boys better realize that pros bring their A game regardless of how they feel about their teammates place in the pecking order. That’s gotta change. At this level you need four or five really creative and dangerous players, not one. Marfan needs to be as creative with Adu on the pitch as he is off. Daniel needs to shoot more. Gaddis is taking up space, isn’t dangerous at all on the ball. Move Okugo up next to Carrol and get Valdes on the pitch again. Oh and if McInerney had kept his cool in Montreal he would have been a creative an incisive presence on the pitch as well.
Most of your points are spot on … but your Adu one? You wanted to KEEP him in!?
The result was due to many things:
Chicago is playing well as a team.
Hackworth should have paired Soumare with Valdes and should not have taken Adu out at the half–hopefully he’ll learn from that.
Marfan and Adu need to learn how to attack together. It seems like each of them only create when the other one is deferring, but it’s just not enough. This needs to be sorted out.
Gaddis does not really impress me–am I missing something with this guy?
MacMath coughed up a soft goal at a time when the Union were pressing very hard–it was a back-breaking play. I like MacMath, but this is not the first time he has shown that he is not ready to be the starter.
This game could be very hard to recover from.
Bakary should turn out to be an excellent signing. He was really solid for the Fire and is a great person. I wish we could have signed him.
I think Somaure had a bad game, he was one of my favorites and a solid defender when he played for the Fire. I would expect him to play better than that if he plays like he did a few years back.
Actually the Fire scored 4 unanswered goals, though the first went into their own net. Rolfe lit it up for sure, and Friedrich put his money where his mouth is after complaining that the Fire weren’t pushing up into the attack enough.
Couldn’t watch it … how did Flaco look for the Fire?
Yes that did hurt. Seems like they gave up after that goal before the half. Adu’s body language on the bench did not look good to me. I saw The U play a Nowak style game and they got a Nowak style result. Something has gotta give. Somaure was a bad signing based on what I saw tonight.