Mar 24, 2012; Bridgeview, IL, USA; Chicago Fire midfielder Sebastian Grazzini (10) kicks the ball past Philadelphia Union midfielder Roger Torres (8) during the first half at Toyota Park. Mandatory Credit: Mike DiNovo-US PRESSWIRE
It was not a night to remember for the Philadelphia Union.
A young team with a goal of righting itself against the Chicago Fire fell flat of obtaining a positive result, losing 1-0 at Toyota Park.
Chicago's Dominic Oduro nodded in a header past a diving MacMath to put the Fire in front in the 28th minute of the game. The striker found himself free in the box after Union center back Carlos Valdes stopped marking him and Marcos Pappa beat multiple Philadelphia defenders to send in a cross without any defensive pressure.
Most of the night was spent chasing down the likes of Patrick Nyarko and Oduro after the Fire executed counter attacks with ease.
The lack of captain Danny Califf was evident in the display of the Union defense. Another game that utilized a three-man backline was rife with defensive miscues and a perception of disorganization through a lack of communication.
That disorganization was also throughout the midfield, leading to the wasteful nature of the team during the first half despite head coach Piotr Nowak employing a 3-5-2 to being the game. Danny Mwanga and Lionard Pajoy, the Union's starting forwards, were left without linkage play to set up the attack and were almost invisible for most of the game.
Nowak made changes in the second half that garnered some offensive pressure and play for the Union, including the swap of Gabriel Farfan for Roger Torres. Josue Martinez and Jack McInerney was also brought on in the second half.
Gabriel Gomez led the offensive push, nearly scoring twice on well taken free kicks that were barely saved. Still, the Union were unable to break through.
The Fire were content to sit back and wait to counter attack through Nyarko and Oduro for most of the second half, fighting off Union assaults when not trying to move forward themselves.
The last quality chance for the Union came in the dying moments of the game, when a ball was lofted forward for McInerney. The young striker looked like he was in position to take a shot, but Pajoy ran in front of him and took the ball in the opposite direction and was called for an offside, effectively ending the game.