Date: Saturday, September 23rd
Time: 7:00 p.m. Eastern, 6:00 p.m. Central, 4:00 p.m. Pacific, 11:00 p.m. UTC
Venue: Talen Energy Stadium (Philadelphia, Pa.)
Referees: REF: ROBERT SIBIGA AR1: Adam Wienckowski AR2: Kevin Klinger 4TH: Ted Unkel VAR: Jonathan Weiner
Television: CSN Philadelphia, CSN Chicago
Streaming: MLS Live
All-time record: The Philadelphia Union have won six, lost seven, and drawn five against the Chicago Fire in MLS play. The only time the clubs have met in officially sanctioned non-MLS play was in the 2015 U.S. Open Cup, where the Union won 1-0. This is the first time the teams will meet in 2017.
What Philadelphia will look like
Expect to see the regulars for this match. Head Coach Jim Curtin said as much in the midweek press conference, saying that Derrick Jones and Adam Najem would be playing with Bethlehem Steel FC instead of the first team.
The real intrigue will come in the minor switches that seem to take place from week to week - will it be Giliano Wijnaldum or Fabinho at left back? Oguchi Onyewu, Josh Yaro, or maybe Richie Marquez with Jack Elliott at center back? Roland Alberg or Ilsinho at the 10? With Curtin admitting that guys would be auditioning for jobs next season, look for the lineup to be shuffled a bit.
What Chicago will look like
This isn’t the same Chicago Fire team from years past (terrible) or the same Chicago Fire team from earlier this season (very good). This team falls somewhere in the middle - the talent is there in positions, but with Bastian Schweinsteiger out with a calf injury it doesn’t seem to come together.
Chicago is still winning games against teams they’re supposed to beat. They’ve gotten seven of a possible nine points against the Montreal Impact, New York Red Bulls, and D.C. United in their last three games. Nemanja Nikolic has 18 goals in 29 games, one off New York City FC’s David Villa in the MLS Golden Boot race. David Accam isn’t far behind with 14 in 26 appearances, and has contributed 7 assists as well. And old nemesis Dax McCarty continues to be one of the most solid players in the league, helping the Fire weather the storm of a stretch earlier that saw them lose four straight by a combined score of 11-3.
What to expect
Three points means much more to Chicago than it does to the Union right now, as a win would draw push the Fire into the second spot in the Eastern Conference thanks to having a better goal differential than NYCFC. That said the Union have only lost four of fourteen at home, and when guys are playing for a potential paycheck next year anything is a possibility.