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Match Preview: Is Third Time the Charm for the Fire Against Union?

Raphael Wicky returns from a family emergency as the Fire look to get back on track against the Union and end a three-match winless run.
Chicago Fire Philadelphia Union Preview

Photo: MLS Images

Raphael Wicky returned to Chicago this past week after missing the last three Fire matches due to a family emergency. It seems the emergency is still ongoing as Wicky said in the latest press conference that "[his family] is still hoping [for the best]."

And while his heart is obviously still with his family back in Switzerland, it seems the Fire head coach is glad to be back with his team. "But now there is not much I could do in Switzerland, so I came back and I'm happy to be back here, happy to be back at work with the team, with my staff, and like I said, the rest is, we're hoping and praying."

Wicky comes back to a side that did not win any of the three games without him after collecting seven points in the previous three matches he managed, including a draw against the team the Fire play this weekend.

Can Fire Get a Win on the Road?

The aforementioned match came against the Philadelphia Union, and it ended in a 3-3 draw on what was a rain-soaked pitch, resulting from monstrous Chicago thunderstorms. But, it was the beginning of a three-match result streak that lifted the Fire from the bottom of MLS.

While the Fire can take some confidence from that result with them into Sunday's matchup, you better believe the players in the dressing room will be well aware of the elephant in the room: Heading into Sunday, it will have been 664 days since the Fire last won an MLS match away from home.

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While there were no questions about the winless streak away from Soldier Field, the Fire will know that ending the streak at Subaru Park will be a tall task.

"I mean, they're dangerous." goalkeeper Bobby Shuttleworth said. "They have some big boys up top. They have a system that they play pretty well, so we have to weary of that. We know what we are getting ourselves into."

Third Time Could be a Charm

It is an odd scheduling feature to play a team three times before the halfway point of the season, but that is what is precisely happening in Chester, PA on Sunday night.

While the Fire were thoroughly dominated in their first matchup -- a 2-0 loss -- they vastly improved against the Union in the second time of asking, which included a second-half comeback that ended in that 3-3 draw.

Can the third time be the charm for the Fire? It may be a decent time to play this Union side. After winning five of their first 10 matches of the season, Philadelphia has only won one of their previous six matches.

Combine that with the fact that even though the Fire have not won their previous two matches, they have played very well in both and should take some confidence from those games knowing that.

"We know what to expect, how Philly will play," Wicky said. "If they drew or lost or won the last game it's not really going to change their way of playing. So I think it's going to be a similar game as the two games we had here...They're a very well-organized team. We respect them. But we also know that if we are well-organized, concentrated, focused, and if we finish our chances, we have possibilities to beat Philadelphia."