Thursday, October 04, 2012

Union extinguish Fire

 Chicago, Il. – The Philadelphia Union proved too hot to handle on Wednesday evening with an excellent 3-1 victory at playoff-chasing Chicago Fire, sealing their first away win since July.

A trio of well-taken goals from Jack McInerney, Gabriel Gómez and Antoine Hoppenot was enough to deem Dominic Oduro’s reply a mere consolation for the Fire and end a run of six consecutive wins for the home side at Toyota Park.

The Union made two changes to the side which lost out to the odd goal in five at Columbus Crew on Saturday. Striker Jack McInerney came in for Josué Martinez up top, while Trinidad & Tobago international Keon Daniel replaced Gabriel Farfan in the lineup and started in behind McInerney. Michael Farfan, meanwhile, swapped the traditional ‘number 10’ role that he had against the Crew for left midfield.

It wouldn’t take long – seven minutes in fact – for those changes to have a lethal effect on a surface greased with pre-game rain and conducive to slick passing.

Amobi Okugo picked out Danny Cruz who skidded in a perfectly-weighted through ball to match Jack McInerney’s brilliantly-timed run and the striker dispatched a clinical low drive across Sean Johnson which fizzed into the bottom left corner to silence the home faithful.

The volume would rise again when The Fire almost drew level in the 19th minute after Michael Lahoud was penalized – and cautioned – on the edge of the Union box. Daniel Paladini stepped up to beat the wall but not the post as his curling free-kick clipped the top of Zac MacMath’s right-hand post with the goalkeeper at full stretch.

The Union responded well and almost doubled their lead 26 minutes in; Cruz with a powerful cross-shot from a narrow angle which forced Johnson to beat the ball away for a Union corner.

It was matched by MacMath in the 34th minute; the Union stopper with a fine save away to his right to preserve the lead going into the break after Chris Rolfe followed up on Patrick Nyarko’s blocked effort.

The home side emerged from the locker room strongly; MacMath having his palms warmed within two minutes as Paladini again sent in a testing free-kick which the big stopper – resplendent in orange – ltipped away.

Alvaro Fernandez was next to try his luck but could only lash wildly over after collecting Amobi Okugo’s headed clearance.

The Union would once again find their feet and find their rhythm; a fine exhibition of one-touch possession as the hour-mark ticked by demonstrative of their confidence.

That confidence would be in full bloom in the 67th minute when Jack McInerney’s nod down fell invitingly beyond the Fire backline for substitute Gabriel Gómez, who decided against a controlling touch.

Instead, the Panamanian midfielder sent his first-time shot screaming into Sean Johnson’s top left corner as the net struggled to cling onto the goal frame, spinning away in delight as a stunned Toyota Park looked on.

 But the two goal cushion would only last as many minutes; the hosts with an instant response as Dominic Oduro stole a yard to hit a deflected effort beyond MacMath to claim his sixth goal of the season.

 It would set a nail-biting atmosphere in Toyota Park; the visitors looking for a first away win since defeating LA Galaxy at the Home Depot Center in July while the home side looked to continue a winning run and protect their Playoff push.

Sheanon Williams ensured the Union would continue to keep the game tilted their way with a magnificent block 15 minutes from time as Oduro, left unmarked as a result of a deflected cross, snapped a shot at goal in search of his second.

The Union were given a helping hand on their way to three points 11 minutes from time when the hosts were reduced to ten men. Sub Guillermo Franco slid in on Brian Carroll, who was sent reeling after the ball was played, and the striker was given a straight red card by referee Abiodun Okulaja.

It could have been all over with less than five minutes remaining. Michael Lahoud fed Antoine Hoppenot as the Union went two-on-two with the Fire backline but the Paris-born forward could only slice wide after cutting inside from the right.

It was all over seconds later, however, as Hoppenot made no mistake. Michael Farfan streaked away on the right to evade a strong sliding challenge and cut a sharp cross towards Hoppenot who applied a deft flick to round off the scoring.

FULL TIME: Chicago Fire 1-3 Philadelphia Union



CHICAGO FIRE                                                

Dominic Oduro, 69.


Jack McInerney, 7.
Gabriel Gómez, 67.
Antoine Hoppenot, 87.


Chicago Fire starting XI: Sean Johnson, Jalil Anibaba, Arne Friedrich, Austin Berry, Dan Gargan (Alex, 77), Patrick Nyarko, Logan Pause (c) (Dominic Oduro, 45), Daniel Paladini, Alvaro Fernandez (Guillermo Franco, 63), Sherjill MacDonald, Chris Rolfe.

Subs not used: Paolo Tornaghi, Michael Videira, Corben Bone, Wells Thompson.

Philadelphia Union starting XI: Zac MacMath, Raymon Gaddis, Sheanon Williams, Amobi Okugo, Carlos Valdés (c), Brian Carroll, Michael Lahoud, Danny Cruz (Gabriel Gómez, 45+1), Michael Farfan, Keon Daniel (Chris Albright,78), Jack McInerney (Antoine Hoppenot, 71).

Subs not used: Chris Konopka, Zach Pfeffer, Roger Torres, Chandler Hoffman

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