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Chicago Fire Fall 4-3 to Philadelphia Union

July 12, 2018 - Major League Soccer (MLS) - Chicago Fire News Release

BRIDGEVIEW, Ill. - The Chicago Fire (6-9-5, 23 pts.) rallied from a trio of one-goal deficits against the Philadelphia Union (7-9-3, 24 pts.), but ultimately fell by a 4-3 scoreline Wednesday night at Toyota Park.

Philadelphia's Haris Medunjanin tallied the first goal of the evening by curling his left-footed shot around Richard Sánchez in the 31st minute.

The Fire equalized in the 39th minute after Aleksandar Katai -- whose transfer to the club was made official earlier in the day -- was taken down in the box. Fire forward Nemanja Nikolić powered his ensuing penalty kick past Union goalkeeper Andre Blake for his ninth goal of the 2018 campaign.

The Union regained the lead in first-half stoppage time when Cory Burke tucked his header just under the crossbar to make it 2-1.

Katai pulled the Fire level in the 69th minute after receiving the ball from Bastian Schweinsteiger on the left side of the field, just outside the 18-yard box. Katai took a touch before blasting his low, right-footed shot past Blake. With his goal, Katai pulled level with Nikolić for the team lead on the season.

The back-and-forth nature of the match would only continue, as Burke tallied his second of the night in the 73rd minute to give the Union a 3-2 lead.

In the 94th minute, Schweinsteiger rose to meet a Diego Campos corner kick and headed home a dramatic equalizer, his third goal of the season. The scoreline was short-lived, however, as former Fire forward David Accam delivered a game-winning strike for the Union in the 95th minute.

The Fire next travel to face FC Dallas at Toyota Stadium in Frisco, Texas on Saturday, July 14 at 7 p.m. CT (ESPN+/Univision Radio 1200AM). Coverage begins at 6:45 p.m. CT with a live pregame show presented by CIBC on ESPN+.


Veljko Paunovic - Head Coach, Chicago Fire

On the match:

"Well, I mean it says what it is. Same thing that we've been in the past. It's very, very similar to the start of the season, the game against Sporting KC. We conceded very soft goals, I think in the first half specially. We conceded too many opportunities. It was our weakness during the whole year. We could change in some moments for some time but we don't have the consistency to improve and I think that's the bottom line. I think we're not capable of when we make one step forward, at least staying there, we go two steps back and today's game shows that perfectly.

Like we said, in the future, we will fix it, we will work, and we will give back the team the good tone, and good form, and good image. We just have to stick with what we have and do our best. Not happy with the performance of course defensively. No team in the world, if we were in the Spanish league or somewhere else, teams that concede so many goals, they get relegated. No team in the world can support so many goals and it's my responsibility. I have to make decisions. I have to move the pieces around and figure it out, and I have to train those guys and they are giving their best but that's what it is. I'm just going to do more and more and look for the better quality, giving the guys tools individually and as a team to defend because we definitely can score, we can attack. When you tell somebody 'today you scored three goals and you lost 4-3,' it's difficult to believe. Those mistakes just happened too often and too instantly. So, disappointment. We will fix it like we did in the past and it's the same message: stick together, work, get some more quality and that's it."

On injury to Kevin Ellis:

"We still didn't discuss that. We're still waiting for the report. He got knocked so we hope it's not bad but we understood if he wasn't capable of continuing the game, so we had to switch and I think Diego Campos did a very good job. He pushed a lot and in the past, he played in that position and that kid is reliable. I think that he's learning a lot, that's what we want to see, and he's capable also in main moments of the game, stepping up. He shows also good character. Yes, of course he has to keep working and improving, and same as everyone else. Injury-wise, we are where we are, so we will see where we stand with Kevin Ellis after the report."

On how the Fire will address the defensive lapses:

"Like we said always, we are working with what we have but we are also working in the market so if we can figure out the opportunities and we can figure out how to bring him here, definitely that's one way to improve but we work. Yes we do here, the whiteboard, we do all these meetings here, right here where you sitting, you're showing up, you're working. We go outside then we try to show how it works in training and that process works like that. But sometimes you see improvements, sometimes not. Today was just too poor. Defensively, I think we just concede too many goals."

On how signing Aleksandar Katai will benefit the team:

"That's what actually is pushing us forward. I always wanted more from him because he can give it. I liked his performance today. I liked that he was hungry. I just think that the last free kick, he could do better, but you cannot blame him, it's just the decision you make in the game - you know the best, you see the best. So far he was very important for us, and yes we're happy that we have him, but everyone has to raise the level at this point of the season. You cannot just concede in games like this. It cannot happen against the direct opponent for the playoff spot and just a little bit of everything else. It's a little bit of everything - mentality, it's the work that we have to do better and then it's the decision making, it's the quality and everything. So we have to put more quality there. We have to get better, working and get better."

Thoughts on the game [Translated from Spanish]:

"The game was the same story as always. We're the team that makes innocent mistakes and good teams like Philly take advantage. We're the team that never gives up, that always fights back and equalizes. We keep committing errors and those errors are taken advantage of and the story repeats itself. It's the same as always. In the end, it is what it is. It's my responsibility but like I said in the past, we're going to fix it and we're going to bring back the team's good tone and image."

On adjustments and if the defensive lapses are due to mentality [Translated from Spanish]:

"Could be. It's a bit of everything. It's the quality we have. It's the mental collapse or whatever you want to call it. The mentality, what I like to call it. It's the decision making and it's a sum of what we're doing and what we're capable of doing. It's a sum of all things and it can be fixed, of course. We're in the process of fixing it but today was not that day. Today was not the day where the team left a good image but we're still left with the team's identity and character. But character is not good for much if you're going to utilize that simply as a badge of honor. You need to have more soccer capabilities to solve the game during 90 minutes, not just character. We kept our character but this is soccer. In soccer, you either have it or you don't. Today, we didn't."

On resting players amid the fixture congestion [Translated from Spanish]:

"The best rest is sleep. We let the players rest and we work on their recuperation when they're here with well-known methods that have worked for us in the past. Nutrition is also important. But the key is rest. Rest that sometimes is active or passive, like sleep and that is where we, with supplementation and everything, are trying to do all we can so the players can recover well. I think they've recovered well and it's worked well for us up until now. In the end, we go back onto the pitch and there it's different things that matter."

Johan Kappelhof - Defender, Chicago Fire

On his first game since the car accident:

"Thanks to God, everything is good. I was good enough to play today, I trained on Monday and Tuesday. It was a big shock for me and my family. It could have gone the wrong way but I'm so thankful to God that I didn't have a serious injury. I just needed a couple days to rest and think about what happened."

On returning to the field after a long layoff:

"Of course, I didn't play for three weeks so I needed to get adjusted to the rhythm of the game. I think that's normal."

On what caused the concession of four goals:

"I think personal mistakes by my teammates, by myself. They punished us."

On what needs to be adjusted defensively:

"We need to work as a team, defensively. We still defend with all the players, I think that wasn't good enough today. Of course, we made mistakes in the back and they punished us. That needs to get better, we're a professional soccer team. We need to have the desire to not make these kinds of mistakes. We have to keep our head up, there's a game coming this Saturday, so we can fix on Saturday what we did today."

Jorge Corrales - Defender, Chicago Fire

Thoughts on the game:

"I think it was a tough game. We work hard every time for 90 minutes. We just keep pushing forward and working for the next game to come."

On the mentality of the team:

"I think we are the kind of team, we just think about the next game. We just keep pushing forward and think about three points and qualifying for the playoffs. We just think about what is coming."

On recovering from a tough loss:

"I think that with work and the right mentality, we can qualify for the playoffs. This game serves as a lesson but we are thinking ahead to the next game."

Chicago Fire 3:4 Philadelphia Union

July 11, 2018 - Toyota Park

Attendance: 12,008

Scoring Summary:

PHI - Haris Medunjanin (unassisted) 31'

CHI - Nemanja Nikolić (penalty kick) 39'

PHI - Cory Burke (Fabrice-Jean Picault) 45+3'

CHI - Aleksandar Katai (Bastian Schweinsteiger) 69'

PHI - Cory Burke (unassisted) 73'

CHI - Bastian Schweinsteiger (Diego Campos) 90+4'

PHI - David Accam (Haris Medunjanin) 90+5'

Misconduct Summary:

CHI - Jorge Corrales (caution) 5'

PHI - Cory Burke (caution) 8'

CHI - Johan Kappelhof (caution) 83'

PHI - David Accam (caution) 90+6'

Chicago Fire: Richard Sánchez; Kevin Ellis (Elliot Collier 13'), Johan Kappelhof, Jonathan Campbell, Jorge Corrales; Brandt Bronico (Alan Gordon 76'), Dax McCarty (C) (Tony Tchani 86'); Aleksandar Katai, Bastian Schweinsteiger, Diego Campos; Nemanja Nikolić

Subs not used: Stefan Cleveland; Christian Dean; Mo Adams; Jon Bakero

Shots: 11; Shots On-Goal: 6 Fouls: 9; Saves: 2; Offsides: 4; Corners: 4

Philadelphia Union: Andre Blake, Raymon Gaddis, Keegan Rosenberry, Auston Trusty, Borek Dockal (Warren Creavalle 66'), Alejandro Bedoya (C), Haris Medunjanin, Cory Burke (C.J. Sapong 78'), Ilsinho (David Accam 17'), Fabrice-Jean Picault

Subs not used: John McCarthy, Jack Ellilot, Fabinho, Marcus Epps

Shots: 13; Shots On-Goal: 6; Fouls: 12; Saves: 3; Offsides: 1; Corners: 5

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