By Rusty Silber
Bridgeview, IL - The Fire had three points headed in their direction until a call that changed everything in the final minutes. The call was a handball in the penalty area off the arm of defender Gonzalo Segares.
Sebastien Le Toux scored the penalty kick for Philadelphia that left the game in a 1-1 draw with Chicago at Toyota Park on Saturday night. At the final whistle the 17,460 fans sent out a chorus of boos to the final result seeing the Fire with its 11th tie in 18 matches.
"I did take a look at it and saw it," Fire head coach Frank Yallop said. "One of the worst goals that I've ever seen to be honest. (Segares') arm was against his body, it hits his arm that's against his chest going away from his body. I just don't understand how the (ref) can call that. I have to tell my guys, 'nice try, unlucky and what do I say next.' There's nothing to say to them, because they gave everything they had in a tough game."
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The call was made in the 89th minute of play. Le Toux gathered the ball and hit a shot from near the top of the box and it hit off Segares. "I really don't think that deserves to be a PK," Segares said. "We do have to move on and it's tough to swallow. Now we have to look forward to next game."
Le Toux made the penalty kick , hit it into the left corner and got it past diving Fire goalkeeper Sean Johnson for his eighth goal of the season in the 90th minute.
"It's been good this year, I've been scoring more goals," Le Toux said. "To be able to score for the team is good. I hope we can win more games."
But Le Toux had a good look at the initial shot that caught Segares for the penalty kick. "I was just trying to hit the shot on target," Le Toux said. "He just hit it with a handball. I did ask the referee about the handball and he gave the PK."
Philadelphia's record moved to 5-8-8 with 23 points. Chicago moves to 3-4-11 with 20 points.
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"Anytime you get a goal in the 89th minute you are happy with that,” Philadelphia Union head interim coach Jim Curtin said. "You take the point and you move on. I will say that I am disappointed that we gave up a goal, because in the run of play I didn’t think we gave up a whole lot of chances. So that’s something we’ll need to correct."
The Fire had taken a 1-0 lead in the 60th minute. Jeff Larentowicz finished off a header from a Harry Shipp corner. Larentowicz had a similar opportunity late in the first half and sent the header over the crossbar.
"Harry's service is consistent," Larentowicz said. "Always there and it's always good. Luckily, I had a second chance. The only difference was the ball from the first half. It was a clear header on the same play."
The Fire had a strong effort, especially on defense throughout the game. It could've been the second straight clean sheet for Johnson. The back four of Juan Kennedy Hurtado, Lovel Palmer, Bakary Soumare and Segares had a strong effort with other players helping out.
The Fire will hit the road on Wednesday to play San Jose, while the Union will take host to Crystal Palace FC on Friday, before returning to league play against Sporting KC on Aug. 1.