Approaching Crunch Time, Chicago and Philadelphia To Fight For Vital Points
Image Courtesy of chicago-fire.com

Chicago go into Saturday night's game sitting in 8th place in the Eastern Conference, just two places below 6th placed Philadelphia with three games in hand. Both teams have struggled for wins so far this year, with Chicago's inability to close out games having dubbed them the “draw kings” this season, Philadelphia have seen similar struggles with a lack of defensive consistency leading them to concede 9 of their 34 goals conceded in the last 10 minutes of games. With this season having just passed the half-way point with both teams within striking distance of a playoff spot this game could prove pivotal for either side.

Coming off their first clean sheet in three matches, and yet another goal from rookie Harry Shipp, Chicago's attacking trio of Magee, Amirikwa, and Shipp have combined for an impressive 17 goals and 11 assists this season but Chicago's defense is going to have to come up big if they want to avoid dropping point at home once again this season.

Similarly, Philadelphia have failed to keep a clean sheet in five matches and are looking for their first back to back win this season having been boosted by the appointment of interm-manager Jim Curtain whose only loss came against FC Dallas on July 4th. Their 3-1 win over rivals New York Red Bulls marked former Red Bull Sebastian Le Toux's team leading 7th goal of the season. Philadelphia face a Chicago side lead by Mike Magee and in-form rookie of the year contender Harry Shipp. Shipp has 3 goals in his last 5 games.

Despite still missing Zach Pfeffer who remains on international duty with the US U-20 Men's National team, Saturday's game marks the return from suspension of midfield duo Amobi Okugo and Michael Lahoud with Christian Maidana, and Le Toux available for selection despite an early exit for Maidana and some limping late on from Le Toux in the match against New York. Chicago have no notable absences and neither team have players in danger of a suspension via yellow accumulation.

Philadelphia leads the series all time 5-4-2 with this season's first meeting resulting in a goal filled 2-2 draw at Toyota Park with Juan Luis Anangono's late strike tying things up four minutes from time back in April.

If Saturday's game is anything like their previous meeting, we can expect plenty of drama and goals from both sides. Both teams are going to have to keep it tight at the back if they want to remain in contention for a playoff spot but look for the flood gates to open if an early goal occurs, it may come down to who's got more attacking talent.

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