Union-Fire Preview

The Associated PressMay 10, 2013

The Philadelphia Union's defense has struggled all season, particularly plaguing them in their last three matches.

Sorting out those issues could prove difficult on the road Saturday as their back line will be depleted for their first of two games against the also short-handed Chicago Fire in eight days.

Philadelphia (3-3-3) has had at least five days between each of its first nine games, but now will play three times in eight days - including a visit from the Fire next Saturday after hosting Los Angeles on Wednesday.

"You have to manage these three games and it's dictated by what happens in the first one for sure," manager John Hackworth told the team's official website. "We feel like we have good depth and we're ready to do that."

The Union got two goals from Danny Cruz a minute apart early in the second half last Saturday against visiting Seattle, but squandered a 2-1 lead in a 2-all draw. It was the third straight game they allowed two goals.

A hamstring injury will keep defender Jeff Parke - who has started all nine matches - out of action Saturday. Defender Sheanon Williams will also be unavailable, serving a one-game suspension after he received a red card against the Sounders.

"We know we're going to get Sheanon back, it's only one game," center back Amobi Okugo told the club's official website. "With Parke's injury, we don't know how long he's going to be out, so people are going to have to step up, myself included, our whole back line."

Offensively, Jack McInerney - tied for the league lead with six goals - will try to break his own brief slump as he's scoreless in consecutive matches for the first time this season.

Chicago (2-5-1) has been off since a 2-0 loss at Montreal on April 27 that dropped it to 0-3-1 on the road, but the Fire have won their last two home matches. They've scored five goals and surrendered five in their last four contests overall after being outscored 9-1 in their first four.

Midfielder Jeff Larentowicz won't play after receiving a red card for a reckless tackle against Montreal. He had played every minute this season until he was sent off.

Forward Maicon Santos leads the squad with two goals but also is listed as questionable after hyperextending his left knee.

Larentowicz's absence will ensure that coach Frank Klopas will start his ninth different lineup in nine matches.

"We've been unlucky with our lineup this year," Klopas told the team's official website. "We've had injuries and a few suspensions that have made it difficult to keep a consistent team together but we've also gotten some strong performances out of guys that we needed to step up."

Each team has three wins and a draw in this series. Philadelphia won for the first time in four matches at Chicago last year - McInerney had a goal and an assist in the 3-1 victory Oct. 3 - but the Fire took the other two meetings.