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McInerney's league-leading 8th goal lifts Union

The SportsXchange

CHESTER, Pa. -- With a steady rain falling and a cool breeze blowing in off the Delaware River, it certainly didn't feel like summer was approaching on Saturday evening at PPL Park.

That didn't matter for the Philadelphia Union, because Jack McInerney is plenty hot enough.

The Union got an early goal from their young striker and then held on, taking a 1-0 victory over the Chicago Fire for the second time in a week.

It was not even three minutes into the game when Sebastian LeToux drove a hard cross from the left side of the box that first found McInerney's head and then the back of the goal. The score, McInerney's league-leading eighth of the season, was the 20th goal of the 20-year-old's MLS career as the striker continues to open eyes around the league.

"I knew what was expected of me this year and I know if I just got an opportunity, these kinds of things would happen," McInerney said. "The coaching staff has really put together a team that's benefitted me and it's just good for me all around."

"Fantastic work for him," Union manager John Hackworth said. "The quality that he continues to show is pretty amazing."

Chicago (2-7-1, 7 points) had quite a few prime scoring opportunities, especially early on. Philadelphia goalie Zac MacMath saved six shots to preserve his second shutout of the season, including a fantastic diving stop on a Chris Rolfe shot from just outside the box in the 9th minute of play.

The Fire played the final third of the game down a man after defender Wells Thompson was sent off in the 62nd minute challenging Union midfielder Danny Cruz. Thompson's first yellow card of the game came in the 14th minute, also due to a rough challenge against Cruz.

The win was one the Union (5-4-3, 18 points) desperately needed at home, as they came into play just 1-2-2 at PPL Park this season.

"It's been a rough season for us at home, so for us to get a win, especially against an Eastern Conference team, it's a big result for us and an especially good result since we have two road games coming up," McInerney said.

Both teams were looking to come back from losses, as the Union suffered a 4-1 defeat at the hands of the LA Galaxy on Wednesday, while the Fire had nothing to do all week but prepare for a rematch between the two clubs.

Philadelphia and Chicago met a week ago on the Fire's home turf, with the Union coming out 1-0 winners thanks to a McInerney goal in the 75th minute of play -- also off an assist from LeToux. LeToux, who led the Union in goals with 14 in 2010, has only one this year but his four assists lead MLS.

"There were some questions weeks ago about what role (LeToux) would play on our team, and I knew at that point that he would be really important for this team," Hackworth said. "You saw that tonight."

Chicago coach Frank Klopas made one change to the starting lineup between games, inserting Leff Larentowicz at one midfield slot instead of Dan Paladini, who was left off the 18-man active roster. The Fire also welcomed the return of usual starting midfield Sherjill MacDonald, back on its active roster after missing the last game due to an illness; he entered the game for Rolfe in the 53rd minute.

"I think the thing that we talked about a little bit is our ability to play on the flanks, because they do a pretty good job inviting pressure in the middle where they keep numbers," Klopas said afterwards. "Obviously we talked about not giving up any goals, but it didn't work out that way."

NOTES: Philadelphia D Bakary Soumare started his third consecutive game after being inactive for the previous 22 games, a streak that stretched back to Aug. 12, 2012. ... In addition to Thompson's yellow cards, Chicago defender Jalil Anibaba picked one up in the 57th minute, while Philadelphia's Brian Carroll (56') and Sheanon Williams (73') were booked as well. ... Philadelphia substitutions were Keon Daniel (for Danny Cruz, 64'), Conor Casey (for Kleberson, 71') and Leonardo Fernandes (for Jack McInerney, 90'); Chicago's were Alex (for Joel Lindpere, 75') and Quincy Amarikwa (for Dilly Duka, 81') in addition to MacDonald.
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