Major League Soccer

Fire-Union Preview

Philadelphia Union head coach Jim Curtin is hopeful his side can put home advantage to good use in August, starting with Sunday's visit of familiar foes Chicago Fire FC.

The 2020 Supporters' Shield winners are about to embark on a run of seven games in 28 days in all competitions, with more than half of those fixtures to be played at Subaru Park.

Curtin's side struggled for consistency in July, losing two, drawing two and winning one, but the 42-year-old believes playing in front of the Union faithful will benefit his players.

"The road is tough and it's gotten a lot harder this year as more and more fans have been allowed into the stadium which is natural," Curtin said.

"The fans make it harder on the road team and give life to the home team. In Subaru Park it is the same for us. Teams don't like coming here.

"When the building is full and the crowd gets behind us we can put pressure on teams. This is an important stretch for us and we need to take as many points as possible."

The Union have won their last five home matches against the Fire, netting 14 goals in the process.

This will be the third encounter between these Eastern Conference rivals in the space of 85 days, with the Union winning 2-0 in May before playing out a 3-3 draw in June.

Those two games were held in Chicago but visiting boss Raphael Wicky, back in the dugout after missing three games due to a family emergency in Switzerland, is aiming to make it third time lucky.

"It's going to be a tough game again. We know Philly well," he said. "It's always a battle against Philly. They're a very well-organized team. We respect them.

"But we also know that if we are well-organized, concentrated, focused and take our chances, we have the chance to beat them. We go with that mindset and that belief."

Philadelphia Union - Cory Burke

Jamaica international Burke is expected to be back in contention for the Union after his country's Gold Cup hopes were brought to an end by the United States last week. He has played a key role in meetings between these sides in recent seasons, scoring six times against the Fire in total - the third-most for a Philadelphia player against a single opponent, behind Sebastien Le Toux's eight against New England Revolution and his seven against D.C. United.

Chicago Fire - Robert Beric

Chicago have yet to claim a point away from Soldier Field in 2021 and are winless in their last 16 matches on the road. If that is to change they need their attacking players to step up. Slovenian forward Beric has scored just twice in 15 appearances this season, 14 of those being starts, and has yet to net away from home. What better time to end that run than with a goal at Subaru Park on Sunday.

- This will be the third meeting this season between the Union and Fire, with Philadelphia winning once and the sides drawing once, both in Chicago.

- Philadelphia have won just one of their last six matches (D3 L2) following a run of five wins in seven games. The Union have conceded a goal in all six of those matches after keeping seven clean sheets in their previous 12 matches dating back to last season.

- Chicago are winless in 16 straight away matches (D5 L11) dating back to the start of the 2020 season. Only Houston Dynamo (17 straight) have a longer active away winless run in MLS.

- Kacper Przybylko, who scored the Union's equalizer against Inter Miami on Sunday, has scored in three consecutive games for the fourth time in his MLS career. Przybylko is one of three Union players (along with C.J. Sapong and Jack McInerney) to score in four straight games, doing so in June-July 2019.

- Alvaro Medran has created 39 chances for team-mates this season, which is the fourth-most in MLS in 2021. His five assists are tied for the fifth most in the league this season.

Updated July 31, 2021

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