D.C. United tightens Eastern Conference race with win over Fire

DeRoPajoy (Getty Images)

WASHINGTON — D.C. United's response to all of the controversy and disappointment from Sunday's draw against Philadelphia was a thorough win over a fellow contender in the Eastern Conference.

Dwayne De Rosario scored the 99th goal of his career, and newcomers Lionard Pajoy and Long Tan got in the act as well, as D.C. topped the Chicago Fire 4-2, extending their home unbeaten streak to 12 games and snapping the Fire's three-game winning streak in front of 10,291 at RFK Stadium Wednesday night.

With the win, D.C. pulled within a point of the Fire and Houston Dynamo for third place in the East while gaining a four-point separation from sixth-place Montreal for the conference's final playoff berth. D.C. is also within six points of first-place Sporting Kansas City with two games in hand in an increasingly tight conference race.

D.C. opened the scoring in the 19th minute, when Chris Pontius hooked a wayward left-footed shot from the top of the area that Chicago goalkeeper Sean Johnson came out for but couldn't gather. De Rosario never stopped his run to touch it home into an empty net by the far post to come with one more goal of joining the 100-club.

D.C. maintained most of the possession for the remainder in the half, until the Fire pulled even in the 44th minute of a slick passing sequence. Daniel Paladini finished off a combination between himself, Sherjill MacDonald and Marco Pappa, continuing his run and not being picked up while Pappa sent a short one-touch pass his way into the area, where he beat Bill Hamid to level the score at 1-1.

Instead of taking that momentum to halftime, though, the Fire allowed D.C. to retake the lead a minute later. In his second game in less than a week after joining D.C. from the Union, Lionard Pajoy got on the end of an Andy Najar cross from the right, sneaking behind Jalil Anibaba to connect and give D.C. a 2-1 edge. Najar got the start at right back with United's options limited due to injury and suspension and got the better end of the matchup between himself and Fire winger Patrick Nyarko while looming as a dangerous threat going forward.

Brandon McDonald made it 3-1 in the 51st minute off a well-placed header from Chris Korb's cross, marking the first time this MLS season that the Fire conceded more than two goals in a single game. Chicago's nearly chipped away three minutes later, when Marco Pappa laced a shot off the right post.  

The Fire got their second goal against the run of play in the 75th minute, when Gonzalo Segares was left completely unmarked on a free kick from Pavel Pardo to pull within 3-2. Johnson made sure it stayed that way two minutes later, robbing De Rosario of what would have been his 100th-career goal with a kick save from close range.

Chris Rolfe nearly tied it up on a blast from distance in the 85th minute, but Bill Hamid made a sprawling save to his right to force it out for a corner kick, and Tan iced the match in the 89th minute, finishing off a squared ball from De Rosario inside the area for his first goal of the season.

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26 Responses to D.C. United tightens Eastern Conference race with win over Fire

  1. chris says:

    If i was Chicago’s goalkeeper coach i would be ripping shots at Sean Johnson all day until he cant move

  2. JoeW says:

    From my perspective Johnson looked very culpable on both the 1st and 4th goals scored by DCU. Bad decision-making and then he gave up on the ball for DeRo’s 1st goal. Then simply let ball go off his hands and into the goal for Tan’s 4th score. That 4th goal should have at least been a rebound off to the side if not an outright safe.

  3. CG says:

    That was awful all over the field. No reason to single out Johnson.

  4. chris says:

    Im not trying to single out Johnson. I just expect more from him and he needs to learn he cant keep making these mistakes

  5. Tyler K says:

    The 4th goal was quite soft. That being said #VAMOSDC

  6. atd says:

    Hamid and Johnson are BOTH mistake-prone, but Hamid is a better GK right now. Arguably much better.

  7. downintexas says:

    Let them make mistakes now, they are both young and playing well, they start for their teams, and have another 5+ years until they hit there primes. Hopefully they just don’t pull a Guzan.

  8. NE REVS says:

    Yeah, these shots at Sean are getting out of hand. In fact they are crossing the line.

  9. NE REVS says:

    He’s the black Rob Green. I’d rather have an orange construction cone in goal than him.

  10. United fury says:

    Not saying Johnson wasn’t partially at fault on any of the goals, but the Chicago D was under siege for good portions of the second half. Despite a couple of questionable plays, Johnson really kept Chicago in the game several times especially during the mid-portion of the second half.

  11. Kent says:

    Wow… just realized I forgot to set my fantasy team.

  12. Dimidri says:

    really? Have you watched a game until today? Sean Johnson has had multiple PLAYER of the week nominee performances recently, not just Goalkeeper. Hamid’s been middling to poor since the Qualifiers. Sure, Sean John had a bad game tonight, but there’s a reason Sean was in Azteca and Bill wasn’t.

  13. JoeW says:

    Both are superb talents, tremendous physiclal ability, great shot stoppers. Both have great upsides. That said, if we were to generalize, my take on their weaknesses would be:
    –Hamid is off too aggressive. He’s been told that don’t do anything halfway, don’t go out part of the way and then second-guess yourself. So when he comes out to challenge someone, he goes out aggressively. He picks up cards for exactly that reason. So his aggressiveness combined with his decision-making are areas that he needs work on.
    –I don’t see Johnson nearly as much but from what I’ve seen, it’s that fundamentally, he’ll just handle some shots poorly (letting a ball go through his hands, misreading the ball and not going to it strongly so as a result he has to deflect rather than catch). For instance, the two SJ misplays this game (1st and 4th goal) were not errors that Hamid likely would have made.

  14. elgringorico says:

    Last night Andy Najar reminded us of how much of a beast he really is. Lockdown defense and incredible Marcelo-like runs on the flank. AND only 19 years old. It’ll be bittersweet when he leaves for Europe.

    DeRo started at Forward for the first time in a while and absolutely commanded the game. I honestly think a full strength squad should see DeRo and Pontius with each other up top.

    This eastern conference race is gonna be good.

  15. Nate Dollars says:

    najar was crazy good last night. I forgot how good he looks as an outside back. good tactics by olsen to put him on nyarko.

  16. Robert Daniels says:

    Why is nobody mentioning Anibaba? He was directly responsible for the first and second goals, poor clearence when no one was around, he had plenty of time to control the ball and play out of the back. On the second he barely jumped higher than my kid nephew and got beat on a header, just being lazy. I’d trade him for a ham sandwich at this point.

  17. Eugene says:

    Pretty atrocious defending by both teams. Sean Johnson was absolutely horrid for Chicago.

  18. Esteban de la Sexface says:

    A lot of peeps in Chicago aren’t that wild about Anibaba. Why not start Gargan instead? Why does Klopas keep playing Anibaba?

  19. Ryan says:

    He hasn’t “kept making these mistakes”. If you had watched any Fire games at all the last 2 months, the man has been on a tear. He had an off night last night, as the whole team did. It happens sometimes. Quit overreacting.

  20. Ryan says:

    If you think that you are clueless dude. He got called up for US/Mexico for a reason. He has been in awesome form for two months now. He had an OFF NIGHT. It happens.

    Honestly, this comment doesn’t surprise me coming from a Revs fan. How is that awesome owner of yours doing nowadays??

  21. Ryan says:

    Thank you! Finally some one else speaking reason. If Hamid is so much better, why did Jurgen call up Sean? They both have awesome potential, but I think Sean has more. Had an off night last night as I posted before but it happens to everyone.

  22. Ryan says:

    Anibaba is very good for a CB (his natural position). He is well liked in Chicago. He and Berry will be a young CB duo for the future when Friedrich leaves. BUT, I don’t know why Frank is starting Jalil out of position at his weaker spot ahead of Gargan either. No one really does. Last night should take care of that I hope.

  23. Ryan says:

    Chicago defense was uncharacteristically bad. Really bad. This game was the first time the team allowed more than 2 goals all year, so they have shown they are normally very good with the D. Last night was a 180 degree turn from that.

  24. NE REVS says:

    Dating blondes, paying attention to the pats and ignoring the revs.

  25. Enos says:

    touche!

  26. This Guy says:

    Sean Johnson has been the best keeper in MLS this season. It’s obvious you haven’t watched more than this Fire match.