After cruising through the first two months of the season, the Philadelphia Union find themselves in a funk in May. A matchup with a Chicago Fire team that’s yet to win on the road could help them get back on track.
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Looking to snap a season-worst three-game winless streak, the offensively challenged Union face the Fire on Saturday night.
Since going 4-1-1 in March and April while allowing two goals, Philadelphia (4-3-2) has been outscored 4-1 in its three games this month. The Union fell 2-0 to FC Dallas last Saturday.
Philadelphia’s offensive struggles could continue versus the Fire (1-3-5), who have come out with a more focused effort on defense of late.
Chicago gave up 11 goals over its first five games, but has since limited opponents to a total of four during four consecutive draws.
The Fire fell behind 2-0 to Toronto FC last Saturday, but Marco Pappa converted a free kick before Corben Bone set up Orr Barouch’s equalizer in the 75th minute. The 2-all tie gave Chicago an 0-2-3 road mark.
"It felt great to get an assist on the board, hopefully I can keep the rhythm going and hopefully that’s the first of many," Bone told the Fire’s official website.
Philadelphia is in second place in the Eastern Conference, one point behind New York, and isn’t planning on taking Chicago lightly.
"It’s pretty tight in the (East)…each game is very important so we are not considering Chicago as a bad team or the best team, but just a team we have to beat on Saturday," said forward Sebastien Le Toux, second on the team with 13 shots.
"We are just focusing on ourselves, making sure everybody is 100 percent and ready to go. I think if we have a good mentality on our team to really win the challenge and win every ball, especially at home with our fans, I’m sure we are going to do a good game."
The Union’s six goals allowed are tied for fewest in the East, but the club has scored an MLS-low six times. The lack of offensive production has manager Peter Nowak rethinking his defense-oriented approach.
"We spend a lot of time on defending, and I think we need to change the perspective of doing certain things," said Nowak, whose team is 3-0-2 at home.
"Either the pressure needs to be applied a little bit higher, because it seems to me that we spend a lot of energy – sometimes ineffective energy – to try to win the ball, and when we win the ball, we don’t have enough energy to go forward to score the goals."