The Chicago Fire’s jam-packed July continues this Saturday with their first meeting of 2019 with the Philadelphia Union. Kickoff from Talen Energy Stadium is slated for 6:30 p.m. CT, with coverage coming to you on ESPN+.
Ahead of Saturday night’s contest, get familiar with the #PHIvCHI Match Storylines presented by NovaCare:
The Union (10-6-6, 32 points) enter Saturday’s match amid one of their most difficult stretches of results in 2019. Head coach Jim Curtin’s side has won once in its last five outings, and were upended by a 4-0 scoreline at Real Salt Lake last weekend. Despite the result, the Union remain three points clear atop the Eastern Conference standings after 22 matches played.
The Fire (5-9-8, 23 points) have an opportunity to get back in the win column on the road Saturday night coming out of a midweek meeting with Columbus Crew SC. Midfielder Djordje Mihailović and forward CJ Sapong each got a goal, but Crew SC found a way to answer both as the Eastern Conference rivals split the points in a 2-2 draw. Chicago has already taken a road point from two first-place sides this season, drawing LAFC and DC United in May.
Saturday night marks a return to the City of Brotherly love for a trio of Fire players. Sapong and fellow forward Fabian Herbers each came to the Fire from the Union in the 2019 offseason. Herbers was acquired in a December trade, and has since featured 11 times and scored twice for the Men In Red. Sapong arrived in late February after also being acquired via trade, and currently leads the Fire with nine goals this season. Throughout his time with the Union, Sapong's 36 strikes left him second place all-time on the club's goal-scoring list. Philadelphia was also the last stop of Fire head coach Veljko Paunović’s playing career in 2011.
The Fire are in the midst of one of the most congested periods on their 2019 calendar. The month of July sees the Men In Red play seven matches, including their current stretch of four in 11 days. Following Saturday’s trip to Philadelphia, Paunović and his side will face a quick turnaround into Tuesday night’s visit from Cruz Azul of Liga MX (7:30 p.m. CT | TICKETS), in what will be the opening match of the 2019 Leagues Cup competition.
Saturday’s game against the Union will mark the first meeting between the two sides this season. The Fire’s most recent away match against the Union resulted in a 3-0 defeat in the semifinal of the Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup on Aug. 8, 2018.
The Fire are 8-9-5 against the Union all-time dating back to their inaugural season in 2010, including a 2-6-2 record in matches against the Union away from home.