Union, Fire set for massive East tilt

Chester, PA ( - A pair of teams in desperate need of points will clash on Thursday as the Philadelphia Union welcome the Chicago Fire to PPL Park in a classic six-pointer.

Philadelphia enters the match sitting in seventh place in the Eastern Conference with 38 points, three behind New York for the fifth and final playoff berth.

Last time out, the Union suffered a 1-0 defeat to East-leading D.C. United which put a significant dent in the Union's playoff hopes.

The game's lone goal came after 10 minutes. A deflected cross found its way to United fullback Chris Korb, who quickly whipped the ball in to the top of the six. Luis Silva was waiting and deftly headed the ball past Union goalkeeper Rais M'Bolhi and into the back of the net.

The Union suffered their first loss since Aug. 15 -- when they lost 2-0 at the Houston Dynamo -- though the defeat at D.C. United followed a pair of draws.

"The goals have dried up. You know, we're struggling. We are getting chances. We're creating chances, maybe a little more commitment to get in the box," said Union manager Jim Curtin. "We are going to have to find a way to fight through it, and we need to now win three games in a row to give ourselves even a chance at the playoffs."

The Union were also shut out at the attacking end for a second consecutive match, the first time since April 19-26 they were blanked in back-to-back games.

"Conor [Casey's] up there fighting with two center backs and that's not good enough," Curtin said. "We have to have more commitment from Chaco [Maidana], from Vincent [Nogueira], from Amobi [Okugo] to get in the box late. You saw today there were probably ten crosses that get knocked down around the 8-to 12-yard-line and we don't have anyone there to get on the end of it. That's a commitment to getting in the box."

Chicago, meanwhile, is coming off a 2-0 loss to the Houston Dynamo which extended its winless run to five matches.

The Fire fell behind just after the quarter-hour. From the left side of the field, midfielder Ricardo Clark got the best of Fire veteran Logan Pause before firing a cross toward the back post. Omar Cummings split a pair of defenders to come sliding in for a simple finish.

Houston then added a second goal in the 67th minute. Defender Kofi Sarkodie hit a cross from the right side to midfielder Brad Davis, who headed the ball back to a wide-open Boniek Garcia at the penalty spot, and he thumped home a picture-perfect volley with his left foot.

"It's been tough all year, we've tied 16 out of 29 games and you've got to turn some of those ties into wins and we haven't," Fire head coach Frank Yallop said. "So we're not good enough. I guess we have something to slightly build on that we don't lose a ton of games, but we lost which is obviously a very disappointing result at this time of the season. But we've got to pick ourselves up, we've got play on Thursday, so we've got to get ready for that one."

This will be the third and final meeting between the sides, which played to draws on April 5 and July 19.