McInerney's early goal proves all Union need in win over Fire

McInerney's early goal proves all Union need in win over Fire

May 18, 2013, 9:45 pm
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CHESTER, Pa. -- Jack McInerney’s dominance over the Chicago Fire continues.

For the second time in a week, McInerney and Sebastien Le toux connected on the game-winning goal and Zac MacMath posted a shutout, as the Union took down the Fire, 1-0, Saturday night at PPL Park.

“It was a good start for us,” McInerney said. “Seba played a good ball off my head. It’s extremely hard to beat a team two times like that. It’s a good accomplishment and it’s a game we needed to get three points out of.”

After his second consecutive shutout against the Fire, MacMath, who finished with six saves, couldn’t pinpoint what exactly it is that has made him so strong against the Fire.

“I don’t know, but it’s good,” he said. “I enjoy getting shutouts and can hopefully continue to play well and carry that into facing other teams.”

Coming off a 4-1 loss to the L.A. Galaxy at home, the much-needed win puts the Union at 5-4-3 this season. It was also the team’s second home win of 2013. The Fire, meanwhile, slide to 2-7-1.

“It’s a big win for our club tonight,” manager John Hackworth said. “Especially winning a 1-0 game here at home. It’s extremely difficult to beat a team, especially a conference rival, twice within eight days.”

The contest came and went in a flash.

In just the third minute off a cleared Union corner, Le Toux regained possession to the left of the Fire box. Uncovered and with the Fire defensive line unable to fully reset, Le Toux calmly played a low line drive back into the box, which allowed McInerney to break loose and head the ball in, giving the Union the early one-goal advantage.

“He just served it,” McInerney said. “We had about three or four guys in the box and it fell right to me.”

The goal was McInerney’s MLS-leading eighth of the season, matching his 2012 career high.

“Thank goodness he’s 20 years old, still,” Hackworth said. “Fantastic work from him. The quality he continues to show is pretty amazing.”

Meanwhile, the assist was Le Toux's fourth on the year, tying him for the league lead. Three of which have come from McInerney goals.

“It’s great for Seba,” said Hackworth. “There were some questions weeks ago about what role Seba would play on our team. I knew he was going to be really important for this team. You saw that tonight. His versatility and work rate is second to none. The fact that he can play different roles and provide those assists, it’s great for him.”

Despite the Fire pushing back at the Union’s lead at the end the first half and into the second, the dynamic changed in the 63rd minute. Chasing down Union midfielder Danny Cruz on a fast break, Fire defender Wells Thompson was called for his second yellow card of the game and a subsequent red card ejection when he hauled down Cruz from behind.

Injured on the play, Cruz was helped off the field favoring his right ankle. He was replaced by Keon Daniel.

Though the Union held the man advantage, the Fire pushed for the equalizer. But unable to crack the MacMath and the Union defense, the Fire were shutout for the sixth time this season and second by MacMath.

“He showed some resilience and character,” Hackworth said of his goalkeeper, who was routed for four goals against the Galaxy. “I have full confidence in him. I know he’s capable. He made some good plays and got the well-deserved shutout.”

For the third consecutive game, Union defender Bakary Soumare made the start and played a full 90 minutes in place of Jeff Parke, who is recovering from a hamstring injury. … Rookie Leo Fernandes made his MLS debut, entering the game for McInerney in the 90th minute.