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Union squander dominant effort in 1-1 tie with Chicago Fire, and Jamiro Monteiro may be leaving

Monteiro has been separated from his family due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The news came after a game in which the Union had a 25-4 edge in shots, but just one goal.

Union defender Jack Elliott and Chicago Fire forward Chinonso Offor battle for the soccer ball during the first half at Subaru Park in Chester, PA on Sunday, August 1, 2021.
Union defender Jack Elliott and Chicago Fire forward Chinonso Offor battle for the soccer ball during the first half at Subaru Park in Chester, PA on Sunday, August 1, 2021.Read moreYONG KIM / Staff Photographer

The Union’s winless streak extended to three games on Sunday, and this was the worst of the bunch: a 1-1 tie with the Chicago Fire at Subaru Park in which the home team had a 25-4 shots advantage and played up a man for the last 64 minutes.

Chicago’s Przemyslaw Frankowski opened the scoring in the 10th minute, then Kai Wagner tied the game on a 36th-minute goal after Wyatt Omsberg was controversially ejected for a foul on Cory Burke. Though the Union (6-4-7, 25 points) dominated the rest of the game, they failed to score again.

Here are some observations on the game.

Monteiro sits out, and is heading out

There was a major surprise before game, when the Union unveiled a starting lineup and bench missing Jamiro Monteiro’s name. Jim Curtin made it an even bigger surprise when he revealed after the game that Monteiro is negotiating for a transfer away from the team.

A source with knowledge of the situation later revealed that Monteiro has been separated from his family since June because of COVID-19 pandemic protocols. His wife and two children can’t get into the United States to be with him. That’s likely why he wants to leave, and it’s tough to blame him for that.

But the timing is awful for the Union, with the biggest games in club history coming up in the Champions League semifinals against Mexican superpower Club América.

Monteiro’s agent, Carlos Barros, told the Philly Soccer Page that Belgian club Anderlecht and Dutch club Feyenoord are potential destinations for Monteiro. The latter club would make a lot of sense, because Monteiro’s roots are in Feyenoord’s home city, Rotterdam.

Monteiro will be greatly missed by his teammates, coaches, and fans. But he should be allowed to prioritize his family like anyone else would.

» READ MORE: Jamiro Monteiro is the Union’s most important player, even if you don’t always notice him

A lucky break

The Union were quite fortunate that referee Michael Radchuk sent Omsberg off for an infraction that a video replay review deemed worth a red card.

There didn’t appear to be much ejection-worthy contact from Omsberg. But at one point, Omsberg’s left knee hit Burke’s right calf while both men were running at full speed. Though the contact seemed incidental, the Professional Referees Organization confirmed after the game that it was enough for a red card.

That turned out to be the official cause, confirmed by the Professional Referees Oganization after the game.

“The left knee of Omsberg made contact into the back of the right calf of Burke, causing Burke to lose balance as he moved onto the ball which was close to him in front of goal, with only the goalkeeper to beat,” a statement from PRO said. “Burke had an obvious goal-scoring opportunity, and that opportunity was denied by the contact from Omsberg. Omsberg was therefore sent off for denying an obvious goal-scoring opportunity.”

The assumption in the press box when Radchuk went to the monitor was that he would review the collision between Burke and goalkeeper Bobby Shuttleworth of Chicago (3-9-4, 13 points), which occurred after Burke had gotten past Omsberg.

That could have produced a red card to Shuttleworth and a penalty kick for the Union if the officials judged the ball to be past the play. Or a yellow card and penalty kick if the ball was judged to be still in play.

But since the apparently red-worthy foul happened before Omsberg and Burke entered the box, Omsberg ended up leaving the field instead.

Bedoya plays better

After spotlighting Alejandro Bedoya for a few rough outings recently, it’s only fair to credit him for playing well in this game. He had two shots, created two chances, won three duels, made two recoveries, and completed 31 of 38 passes. Most importantly, he didn’t run out of gas down the stretch.

Subs fail to spark

Curtin brought Ilsinho, Quinn Sullivan, and Jack McGlynn in as substitutes in search of a winning goal. But none of them were able to produce it. The players Curtin really needed were unavailable: Sergio Santos was suspended, Anthony Fontana and Jack de Vries were out injured, and Matheus Davó's signing isn’t finished yet.

Santos alone would have made a big difference in trying to break down Chicago’s defensive bunker, which had all 11 Fire players behind the ball at times. But the punch the Union needed wasn’t there, even as the visitors tired through 11 minutes of second-half stoppage time. The groans from the crowd when no one touched a cross through the 18-yard box in the 100th minute symbolized the night’s frustration.