In what ended up being a successful night for most of the Eastern Conference, the Philadelphia Union would have greatly enjoyed a win and three points of their own at Toyota Park, home of the last place Chicago Fire. Alas, that was not to be however, as the Union fell victim to a 3-0 shutout Saturday night against the Eastern Conference basement dwellers.
Due to international duty, Jim Curtin was without midfield standout Alejandro Bedoya and goalkeeping starter Andre Blake for the evening. Additionally Josh Yaro had to miss tonight's afternoon due to the unfortunate passing of his mother. This left Curtin stripped at vital positions, forcing him to start John McCarthy in goal, Warren Creavalle and Tranquillo Barnetta in the double pivot, and perhaps most damaging of all Ken Tribbett at central defense.
The first several minutes of the match were mostly uneventful. The Philadelphia Union struggled mightily in the early minutes of the game to string together passes and mount any sort of meaningful attack on goal, while the same could also be said of the Fire. But in the 22nd minute, things took a turn for the worse for the Union. Matt Polster played a ball into the center of the box and while trying to make a tackle on the pass's intended target, Michael de Leeuw, Roland Alberg made a miscue. Unfortunately for Alberg, he missed the man hereand got the ball instead, putting it past a flailing McCarthy.
Following the Fire's goal, the match opened up a bit and ending the first half and entering the second half the Union had the better of the run of play and the better quality chances. In the 31st minute, Chris Pontius fired a shot destined for the top corner from near the edge of the box but Fire goalkeeper Sean Johnson did well to get a hand on it and deflect it away from goal. The Union got another great chance in the 67th minute when a Barnetta corner found the head of C.J. Sapong, only Sapong's strong header was parried away nicely by Johnson for another corner that mounted to nothing.
The Union's chances went all for naught in the 71st minute. Razvan Cocis dished the ball to Luis Solignac racing in toward goal. McCarthy raced out to greet Solignac and deflected Solignac's shot attempt, however the deflection went directly to de Leeuw. With Richie Marquez unable to set himself up for a clearance off the line in time, de Leeuw had no problem scoring in the open net abandoned by McCarthy to put the Fire up 2-0 with 19 minutes remaining in the match.
With the Fire up 2-0 and time passing away making the game virtually out of reach for the Union, the Fire added one more goal. Arturo Alzarez, set up by a pass from de Leeuw, directed himself toward goal where he met Tribbett. Tribbett, completely unaware of Alvarez's left-footed tendencies, was left completely flat-footed by Alvarez's juke. Tribbett falling victim to Alvarez's move gave Alvarez a wide open shot at net and he had no issue beating McCarthy to put the Fire ahead 3-0 and end the match's competitiveness.
Up next for the Union is a return home next Saturday to take on Montreal Impact next Saturday evening at Talen Energy Stadium.