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Three Takeaways — Philadelphia vs. Chicago

Welcome back to another edition of Three Takeaways, a segment in which I dive in after each Philadelphia Union match, revisit and take a closer look at what went well and what ultimately did not.

On Wednesday, May 30, Philadelphia Union fans were filled with Pride as their team defeated the visiting Chicago Fire 3-1 at Talen Energy Stadium in Chester, PA. Philadelphia improves to 18 points and remains seventh in the Eastern Conference.

Jim Curtin’s Boys-in-Blue were in excellent form all game, limiting Chicago to just 10 shots on Andre Blake. In contrast, Philadelphia peppered Chicago’s goal, recording 17 shots on the night.

There’s a lot to talk about after this game, so let’s get right to it.

HOLY $#!7 COREY BURKE

For a few weeks, I’ve been advocating for Jamaican international Corey Burke to make Curtin’s Starting XI over veteran CJ Sapong. Sapong has been playing subpar at best this year, and I believe it is time for a change.

And, on Wednesday night, Burke got the nod and was placed as starting forward. I didn’t know what I was expecting from Burke, but he still managed to perform above my expectations.

Burke scored once in the 51st minute, with a header in the box, and the Jamaican almost got on the score sheet before that in the 8’. Both of these plays were terrific, and they show exactly what the Union are getting out of Burke’s fresh legs.

Outside of these plays, Burke was spectacular in pressuring the keeper and forcing the Fire into uncomfortable situations.

Earlier in the year, Curtin spoke about the “speed kills” mentality he wanted the Union to incorporate with their already recognizable possession style of play, but it didn’t pay off as much as they’d hoped. Until Wednesday.

Burke showed off his speed in addition to his countless other attributes, which has left me hopeful for the Jamaican’s future.

NOTE: Corey Burke, 6’ 4”, Jamaican, fast. Usain Bolt, 6’ 5”, Jamaican, fast. Nobody has seen them in a room together. Coincidence? I think not.

Losing Possession

Philly did a lot right throughout the game, but they also did some stuff that wasn’t so great. Throughout the game, the Union gave up possession far too many times, leading to some volatile situations.

In one such situation, a missed attempt on goal went off Union captain Alejandro Bedoya, who let the ball bounce off him, and then go out of bounds.

Yes, it was a hard ball to control, but Bedoya definitely could’ve brought the ball under control for another shot and possible goal. However, the ball ended up at the feet of Fire keeper Patrick McLain, for a goal kick.

And while that play ended up being a inconsequential situation, it could’ve hurt the Union, and one day it might be the difference between a victory or a defeat.

Using the Most of Their Minutes

Not too surprisingly, Chicago had more possession time than the Boys-in-Blue, which is quite an anomaly for the Union. However, Philadelphia still managed to dominate with only 43% of possession time.

Philadelphia spent most of their time in the Fire’s half of the field, showing the visitors just whose house it was. Philly had 17 shots to Chicago’s 10, dominating on route to three points.

Despite being a major deviation from the norm, I’m not complaining. Generally, the Union have had more possession time, but fail to capitalize on it.

However, on Wednesday, the Union utilized most of their 40 minutes, scoring three times and thus extending their unbeaten run to four games. Now the Union seem to be a completely new team.

Obviously, the hope is that the Union eventually dominate in both possession and number of chances taken, but in the meantime, it’s good to know that they can survive on just one during a match.

If Philly make the MLS Cup Playoffs, the former may prove to be important against better teams, as the Union will have to take any possession time that they can get.

Make sure to check in later this week, when Lister analyzes the Philadelphia Union’s performance against explosive, first-place side, Atlanta United at Mercedes-Benz Stadium.