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Chicago Fire vs. DC United | MLS Match Preview

TOYOTA PARK, Bridgeview, Ill.
Sept. 20, 2014 (WEEK 28, MLS Game #271)
7:30 p.m. CT (My50 Chi)

Two teams at opposite ends of the playoff picture in the Eastern Conference face off when the Chicago Fire play host to D.C. United on Saturday evening at Toyota Park. The Fire come into the match seven points behind fifth place and the final playoff position in the Eastern Conference, after their 1-1 home draw with Toronto FC last weekend. United haven’t scored a goal in two matches but still lead the East by two points, coming off a 1-0 loss at the New York Red Bulls 10 days ago.


REFEREE: Fotis Bazakos. AR1 (bench): Fabio Tovar; AR2 (opposite): Gianni Facchini; 4th: Armando Villarreal
MLS Career: 32 games; FC/gm: 25.8; Y/gm: 3.4; R: 6; pens: 10

SUSPENDED: DC: Fabian Espindola (through Sept. 21)
SUSPENDED NEXT YELLOW CARD: CHI: Lovel Palmer, Bakary Soumare … DC: Fabian Espindola
SUSPENDED AFTER TWO YELLOW CARDS: CHI: Mike Magee, Chris Ritter, Patrick Ianni, Gonzalo Segares, Matt Watson … DC: Davy Arnaud, Lewis Neal, Chris Korb, Perry Kitchen

ALL-TIME (47 meetings): Fire 18 wins, 71 goals … United 17 wins, 65 goals … Ties 12
AT CHICAGO (23 meetings): Fire 10 wins, 37 goals … United 6 wins, 26 goals … Ties 7
FUTURE MATCH: 10/18: D.C. United vs. Chicago Fire, 7 p.m. ET

2014 (MLS):
3/29: DC 2, CHI 2 (Espindola 35; Kitchen 73 – Hurtado 27; Amarikwa 82)

  • The Fire have not lost to United in five meetings, since a 4-2 D.C. victory Aug. 22, 2012 at RFK Stadium. The Fire have won on three of their last five trips to the nation’s capital, with one draw, over the last five seasons.
  • United last won at Toyota Park in 2009, a 1-0 victory on Aug. 29. The teams then played to three successive draws in Bridgeview, before the Fire won both encounters there a year ago.
  • Coaches record: Ben Olsen vs. CHI: P9 W1 L4 D4 … Frank Yallop vs. DC: P21 W10 L5 D6


  • The Fire took the lead against the run of play in the 27th minute. Harry Shipp struck a well-placed corner kick toward the far post into the path of Jhon Kennedy Hurtado, who was left unmarked and made no mistake with his header.
  • But United found the equalizer eight minutes later. From a free kick just outside the box, Nick DeLeon rolled a deft touch back toward Fabian Espindola, and his low, pacey strike past the wall leveled the match.
  • United took the lead in the 73rd minute, once again from a restart. Bobby Boswell found himself on the end of an Espindola corner kick, but his header was cleared from the goal line, His second attempt from the rebound struck the near post, and the ball fell directly into the path of Perry Kitchen, who slammed it into the roof of the net from close range.
  • But Chicago equalized less than 10 minutes later. Second-half substitute Patrick Nyarko collected the ball on the right flank, nutmegged a defender and centered into the path of an onrushing Quincy Amarikwa, who hammered it home from on the penalty spot.
  • D.C. UNITED (4-3-1-2): Bill Hamid - Sean Franklin, Jeff Parke, Bobby Boswell, Cristian Fernandez - Nick DeLeon, Perry Kitchen, Lewis Neal (Jared Jeffrey 63) - Luis Silva (Davy Arnaud 38) - Fabian Espindola (Conor Doyle 81), Eddie Johnson.
  • CHICAGO FIRE (4-4-2): Sean Johnson - Matt Watson, Bakary Soumare, Jhon Kennedy Hurtado, Greg Cochrane - Harry Shipp, Jeff Larentowicz, Alex (Juan Luis Anangono 80), Benji Joya (Patrick Nyarko 56) - Quincy Amarikwa (Chris Rolfe 89), Mike Magee.

The Chicago Fire reached yet another draw, Toronto FC hitting for a late equalizer to leave the teams in a 1-1 draw Saturday evening at Toyota Park. The Fire are in ninth place in the Eastern Conference with 30 points from 27 games.


  • The Fire took the lead in the 11th minute. Right back Lovel Palmer escaped his marker to meet Sanna Nyassi’s short corner from the left and deftly directed his near-post header past TFC goalkeeper Joe Bendik.
  • The Fire then had a glorious opportunity to double their lead after Bendik took Grant Ward down in the box in the 56th minute and referee David Gantar pointed to the spot. But Jeff Larentowicz saw the resulting penalty brilliantly saved and Bendik further made amends with a superb block to deny Quincy Amarikwa on the ensuing rebound.
  • Toronto FC then hit for the equalizer when substitute Dwayne De Rosario slotted home from close range on a corner kick. The visitors almost stole all three points when Gilberto dispossessed Bakary Soumare in injury time, but his finish was waved off because of a foul by the TFC striker.
  • Fire head coach Frank Yallop made no changes to his team for a second consecutive match, keeping the group that fell 2-1 to the New England Revolution at Gillette Stadium.
  • CHICAGO FIRE (4-4-2): Sean Johnson - Lovel Palmer, Bakary Soumare, Jeff Larentowicz, Gonzalo Segares - Grant Ward (Patrick Nyarko 80), Matt Watson, Razvan Cocis, Alex - Sanna Nyassi (Harry Shipp 69), Quincy Amarikwa.


  • The Fire reached their 15th draw this season with the result with Toronto FC. It’s just one behind the all-time MLS record set in 2011 by the Fire and the New York Red Bulls.
  • “I never make excuses and I never hide behind anything. We’re not quite good enough,” Yallop said. “Another tie is not great for us. Usually you find ways to lose matches as a group, and a lot of coaches have said that, but we find ways to tie matches when we should be winning them. It’s frustrating, but it’s where we’re at.”
  • The Fire saw a fourth penalty kick missed this season, out of nine total attempts. The LA Galaxy have also missed four penalties this season (4 from 8).
  • “I won’t say that penalty kicks have haunted us this year, but I think they have, especially at home,” Yallop said. “We’ve still got to see the game out, though. Forget the penalty kick; 1-0 late in the game, we have to find a way to sort it out. It’s just lax marking again and not having that real last do-or-die spirit to win a game. And that’s what’s missing.”
  • Said Jeff Larentowicz: “I told the guys, everybody fought and fought hard. We did enough to win the game. I told them I take responsibility; I should have put the game away in the second half – I didn’t do that and it gave them a chance to score the goal. It was an important game; it’s unfortunate to not get three points.”
  • After scoring his first goal with the Fire the week before, Sanna Nyassi recorded his first assist with the club, making a fourth consecutive start, the second on the forward line.
  • Lovel Palmer scored his first league goal since May 7, 2011, when he netted for the Houston Dynamo against Toronto FC. Palmer has four goals over his five MLS seasons.
  • “It’s been the kind of season we’re having that we just can’t get a break. We play well for 80 minutes or 45 minutes, now we just need to put together a good string of 90-plus minutes,” said Palmer. “Just like I say every day, try and play for 90-plus minutes and not take a play off.”
  • Yallop ran out the same first XI for a third consecutive game, and has used just 12 different starters over the last four, after Mike Magee was lost for the season with knee surgery.
  • Patrick Nyarko was able to make a second consecutive substitute appearance, after missing 15 consecutive league games. His last start came May 18.
  • “We've got a couple of injuries at the wrong time. It's nice to see Patrick back on the field at home; we've not had him for two or three months, and he's a good player. Robbie Earnshaw comes in and makes an impact in two games, then gets a calf strain, and we haven't had him for two weeks. Mike Magee had surgery, and he's out,” said Yallop. “These guys are difference-makers in matches.”

D.C. United return to action after a weekend off, suffered a second consecutive shutout in a 1-0 loss to the New York Red Bulls on Sept. 10 at Red Bull Arena. United are still in first place in the Eastern Conference with 47 points from 27 games.


  • United were a man down in the 32nd minute after Fabian Espindola was sent off with a straight red card from referee Mark Geiger for a high challenge on Dax McCarty.
  • The game-winner finally came on the stroke of full time. From a loose ball around the United box, a Jamison Olave pass deflected off Thierry Henry and fell to Lloyd Sam on the right side of the area, and he pushed the ball forward and slipped it inside the near post past goalkeeper Bill Hamid.
  • United head coach Ben Olsen made no changes to the team that reached a scoreless draw with Vancouver Whitecaps FC at BC Place.
  • D.C. UNITED (4-4-2): Bill Hamid - Sean Franklin, Bobby Boswell, Steve Birnbaum, Taylor Kemp - Nick DeLeon (Chris Pontius 82), Perry Kitchen, Davy Arnaud, David Estrada (Kyle Porter 65) - Luis Silva (Lewis Neal 53), Fabian Espindola (ejected 32).


  • United were shut out for a second consecutive game in the loss at New York, the third time this season they’ve been blanked in back-to-back games. They have not been shut out in three games in a row this season.
  • “It’s tough to play against a team with such star power coming at you, but the guys stayed organized, they won their 1-v-1 battles, won their battles in the air, and they covered each other,” said goalkeeper Bill Hamid. “It’s unfortunate that they nipped a goal in the end, but the effort by these guys today was just absolutely amazing. To hold a team with so much star-power to zero until the last minute, I tip my hats to my teammates.”
  • Making his third consecutive start and fifth in six matches after returning from a knee injury, Fabian Espindola was sent off just after the half-hour and will miss out on the Chicago game.
  • “It’s such a gutsy performance from this team. They’re a bunch of grinders and they know how to do that and I’m proud of them,” Olsen said. “I’m disappointed for them, again because of the call, and I’m disappointed that they couldn’t get something from what was a hell of an effort from the guys.”
  • Chris Pontius made his first appearance of the season, coming on for the final eight minutes after a pair of surgeries to repair his left hamstring and the sciatic nerve in that same leg. Eddie Johnson was unable for a second consecutive match with post-concussion symptoms.
  • “It obviously felt good to be back out on the field,” Pontius said. “There’s nothing I can do in practice and training to get myself ready for a game where you come in and your team’s down. It felt good, I felt like I caught up to the pace of the game pretty well. You’d like to come into a game where you have a bit more possession, but that’s just not going to happen when you’re a man down.”
  • Said Olsen: "It was great for Chris and good for our team and organization to have him back out there. I thought he did fine – you could tell right away that he was a piece that we’ve missed, and hopefully we’ll get him back into the fold more often.”
  • On Tuesday, United made it two wins from as many starts in the CONCACAF Champions League, defeating Waterhouse FC in Jamaica 2-1. Fabian Espíndola netted twice, on either side of halftime, for the victory.
  • Here’s the United team: Bill Hamid - Kofi Opare, Samuel Inkoom, Steve Birnbaum, Taylor Kemp (ejected 70), Alex Caskey (Sean Franklin 46), Kyle Porter (Chris Pontius 67), Lewis Neal, Perry Kitchen, David Estrada (Bobby Boswell 86), Fabian Espindola
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Current Form

D.C. United

Season Stats

Chicago Fire FCD.C. United
27Games Played28
40Goals Conceded31
115Shots on Target105
366Fouls committed352
334Fouls suffered304

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