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Jul 2, 2024 8:56 pm

Union visit Fire in pairing of teams struggling to prevent goals

Maren Haile-Selassie

Scoring goals has not been a problem lately for the Chicago Fire.

Preventing them, however, has been the story of consecutive losses that have kept the Fire from climbing the Eastern Conference table.

Chicago will try to deliver a better defensive performance at home Wednesday night against the Philadelphia Union.

The Fire (4-10-6, 18 points), who are in the Eastern Conference cellar, have taken 4-2 and 2-1 road losses in their last two matches against Orlando and Seattle, respectively. The defeat to Seattle came after they took a 1-0 lead in the 30th minute on a goal by Maren Haile-Selassie before conceding a pair of goals from the penalty spot in the second half.

“We need to continue to stay grounded and work hard,” said Chicago coach Frank Klopas.

The Fire are 25th in the league in scoring with 24 goals but 11 of those have come in the last six matches. Haile-Selassie has tallied in three straight matches, and Hugo Cuypers had scored in four straight before coming up empty in Seattle.

Chicago is also 24th in goals against, permitting 36 total or nearly two per match. Better possession could ease pressure on the back line; the team’s 48.3-percent possession rate is tied for 19th in the league.

Philadelphia (4-8-8, 20 points) also could use a three-point result. The Union coughed up a 2-1 lead in the second half on Saturday at Montreal, absorbing a 4-2 loss as they gave up goals in the 89th minute and during the second minute of stoppage time.

“We conceded a soft goal off a restart and from there, they took the game to us,” said Philadelphia coach Jim Curtin. “We tried to stop the bleeding, but they continued to push, and once it gets to the 88th minute, you just want to close up shop and not concede.”

The Union are tied for ninth in scoring but tied for 18th in goals allowed with 35. And they will again play without Mikael Uhre (groin), who is tied for second on the team with six goals. Daniel Gazdag leads with 10.

The teams are playing for the second time this season after a 2-2 draw in the season opener on Feb. 24 in Philadelphia.

–Field Level Media

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