An all too familiar scene unfolded in the Union’s (6-13-6) 3-3 tie to the Chicago Fire (6-12-5) on Sunday. Taking a 3-2 lead off a Sebastien Le Toux goal in the 90th minute, the Union looked destined for their second win of the week against the Fire (who lost 1-0 this past Wednesday in the U.S. Open Cup semifinals). But once again, the Union conceded a stoppage time goal, leaving crucial points on the field in a tight Eastern Conference playoff race with just nine matches remaining in the 2015 season.
They’ll face the Montreal Impact (8-9-4), who hold the sixth and final playoff spot in the East, in arguably their most important match of the season. They know what’s at stake. A Union win would bring them within one point of a playoff spot and in perfect position to strike as the end of the season draws near.
“Games are running out obviously,” said Union manager Jim Curtin, after Sunday’s tie. “This is a devastating one again so we need a good performance. Three goals [given up] at home is unacceptable. We concede too many and we’ll have to go into a tough place in Montreal and try to get a result.”
The Union last faced the Impact on June 27th, which resulted in a 2-2 tie. They’ll face a totally different Impact team on Saturday, as international superstar Didier Drogba makes his MLS debut.
Drogba played in 381 matches in two stints for English powerhouse Chelsea FC, ranking fourth all-time in club history with 164 goals and adding 88 assists. He’ll certainly bring some instant offense for the Impact, who have scored just one goal in their past two matches.
Impact midfielder Dilly Duka knows the type of player he is and what he can potentially bring to the team.
“When you bring in a player like Didier Drogba, everyone knows he’s a global superstar,” Duka said. “Everyone has been watching his career. This is a player that you’re almost guaranteed that he’s going to come and help us and push for a title.”
The Union will need the absolute best from their defensive unit, which has been an Achilles heel for the team all season. They’ve conceded a league-high 43 goals in 25 games, including nine in their past four regular season matches.
“It’s annoying, it’s frustrating, but we shouldn’t have even let them score the second goal,” said Union midfielder Brian Carroll, after Sunday’s tie. “We need to clean it up as an entire group, have a defend first mentality if we have the lead, and we should give up nothing else.”
Saturday’s match will air at 8 p.m. on The Comcast Network.
Union headed back to U.S. Open Cup final:
The Union (6-13-6) are heading to their second straight U.S. Open Cup final after defeating the Chicago Fire (6-12-5) 1-0 this past Wednesday at PPL Park.
“To host the U.S. Open Cup final for two consecutive seasons is an incredible honor and one that reflects the hard work and dedication of Jim Curtin, the technical staff and the players,” Union CEO Nick Sakiewicz said. “We look forward to seeing our loyal and passionate fans come out to PPL Park on September 30th to watch us fight to lift the Lamar Hunt Trophy.”
The Union will face Sporting KC in the final match, who defeated the Vancouver Whitecaps 4-3 to get to the final game. Sporting KC has won the Lamar Hunt Trophy twice (2004, 2012), their first coming as the Kansas City Wizards based out of Missouri, before the club rebranded and moved to Kansas City, Kansas in 2010.