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Match #21 Preview: Philadelphia Union At Chicago Fire

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Setting: Wednesday, August 3 at Toyota Park in Bridgeview, Ill.; kickoff scheduled for 9:06:30 PM Eastern

Broadcast Information: Comcast SportsNet Philadelphia (J.P. Dellacamera, Bob Rigby) with coverage beginning at 8:30 PM Eastern with a pre-game show / My50 Chicago (Dan Kelly, Evan Whitfield) / MLS Direct Kick, MatchDay Live (Comcast SportsNet Philadelphia feed)

Chicago's Record: 2-6-12, ninth in East

Chicago's Last Match: L, 1-0 vs. Portland

Philadelphia vs. Chicago This Season: 1-0-0 (Chicago 1 @ Philadelphia 2 on May 21)

For the Chicago Perspective, Visit Hot Time In Old Town

After a bad loss at home to the defending MLS Cup champion Colorado Rapids, the Philadelphia Union continue their stretch of three matches in nine nights just outside of Chicago, where the Fire will be awaiting them. Chicago has amassed a grand total of two MLS wins this season and sits dead last in the Eastern Conference, and is better than only the Vancouver Whitecaps in the entire league record-wise, which may well tell you all you need to know about the Fire.

Now that the Union are missing Carlos Ruiz, until or unless the club makes a move (either within MLS or internationally) to acquire a proven finisher, someone is going to have to step up if the Union want to continue their successful ways. Perhaps it will be Danny Mwanga, or maybe we'll see increased flashes of brilliance from Roger Torres. Or maybe -- and all Union fans are hoping for this -- Sebastien Le Toux will be able to get this monkey off of his back and return to the 2010 Le Toux. The team will also need to shore up its play in front of Faryd Mondragon; Pablo Mastroeni's terrific strike was truly not stoppable, but the cuts he made around Union players were.

And perhaps a trip to Chicago will provide the Union with just what they need -- an opportunity to reset both facets of their game. Chicago might be a bit out of form after not playing since dropping a 3-1 decision to Manchester United on July 23rd, and not playing against MLS competition since a 1-0 home loss to Portland on July 16th. Not to mention, the team's last MLS win was a 1-0 victory in Columbus on June 12, and they haven't won at home since their home opener on March 26, when they defeated Sporting KC 3-2. Three points are certainly within reach for the Union, but to take them, they're going to have to play like they did in their final few minutes against Colorado, and not like they did in the first 45.

Projected starters, up-to-date injury reports and assorted match notes after the jump...

Likely starters:

Philadelphia: Mondragon (C); G. Farfan, Valdes, Califf, M. Farfan; Daniel, Nakazawa, Carroll, Mapp; Mwanga, Le Toux

Chicago: Johnson; Segares, Mikulic, Gibbs, Anibaba; Nyarko, Paladini, Pause, Bone; Nazarit, Oduro

Injury updates:

For Philadelphia, Levi Houapeu continues to make progress in his recovery from a left ankle sprain, but is considered "questionable" for tomorrow's match. Sheanon Williams is unavailable for tomorrow's match after receiving a red card on Friday against Colorado. He will be eligible to return to MLS play this coming Saturday, when the Union host Houston.

For Chicago, Steve Kinney is unavailable as he recovers from a right Achilles repair, as is Marko Maric, who is dealing with a left deltoid sprain. Gabriel Ferrari is considered "questionable" due to a right ankle sprain. Yamith Cuesta, like Williams, is unavailable for tomorrow's match due to a red card given to him while facing Portland. He will be eligible to return for the Fire's match this Sunday in Vancouver.

Of note:

  • Michael Kennedy is listed as tomorrow's match referee. In 135 career MLS matches, Kennedy has called for a total of about 29 fouls per match, handed out an average of just under four yellow cards per match, given a total of 24 red cards and has awarded a total of 47 penalty kicks.
  • Bob Rigby will be shuffled from the sidelines/the corner of the studio that they pretend is the sideline to the broadcast booth/the big kid's table for tomorrow's broadcast. Taylor Twellman is in Portland to call tomorrow night's Timbers-Galaxy match on ESPN2 with Glenn Davis. If it helps, you'll recall that the other time this has happened, the Union took a 1-1 result in Colorado on a Danny Mwanga equalizer.
  • Chicago's Diego Chaves, Corey Gibbs and Gonzalo Segares are one caution away from receiving an automatic one-match disciplinary suspension for accumulation of yellow cards. The Union's Sheanon Williams is one yellow card away as well, but he, of course, will have to wait until Saturday to face that obstacle.
  • If you can believe it, Chicago's offense has been more inept than the Union's. They've scored 20 goals in 20 matches, while the Union have 25 in 20. The Fire's scoring issues were a big reason behind their very recent signing of Mexican international Pavel Pardo to a six-month MLS contract, who is expected to make his Fire debut against Philadelphia.
The Union look to get back on track and overtake Columbus for the top spot in the Eastern Conference, while Chicago hopes to get a much much needed positive result at home. Hope you can join us for a gamethread tomorrow night!