October 19, 2021

D.C. United Game 29 Recap: Roller-coaster night in Chicago ends with a draw


How you look at D.C. United’s 3-3 draw at the Chicago Fire Saturday night is a matter of perspective. Either you are happy D.C. rallied from 2-0 down to at least get a point, or you are disappointed that United let a 3-2 lead slip away, only earning one point instead of three. The good news is that the tie moved United’s record to 14-9-6, good for 48 points and a three-point lead on Sporting Kansas City at the top of Major League Soccer’s Eastern Conference. A tie was the usual for the Fire, who are 5-7-16 (31 points) this season.

Early on, this looked like the kind of performance United would regret were it to not finish first in the East. Quincy Amarikwa put the Fire ahead in the 16th minute, and Chicago went two clear 16 minutes later when United were whistled for a penalty and Jeff Larentowicz converted. At that point, any resulting blowout would have been believable, given how United was playing.

But D.C. was handed a lifeline when United were awarded a penalty of its own in the 39th minute and Luis Silva scored, his ninth of the season. While his penalty was nice, his second goal and team-leading 10th of the year was a thing of beauty. In 54th minute, United won a free kick about 27 yards straight away from the Fire goal. Silva hit a right-footed, curling shot that beat Fire goalkeeper Sean Johnson to his right upper corner.

Given the Fire’s propensity for draws, a 2-2 finish from perhaps wouldn’t have been a surprise. But United had more bad news in store for the Fire in the 68th minute. Taylor Kemp struck a free kick from the left side at midfield that eventually found its way to the Chicago penalty area, and the Fire were poor in dealing with it. United midfielder Perry Kitchen got a right foot on it and appeared to bounce it over the line, but it was then kicked back out by Fire defender Gonzalo Segares and play continued. Bobby Boswell followed up, however, to finish the goal once and for all and make it 3-2.

But United couldn’t hold on. The Fire pressure increased late and Matt Watson was left free from distance. His shot was hit well, but also deflected by D.C. center back Steve Birnbaum, leaving goalkeeper Bill Hamid no chance to stop it and leveling the match at 3-3.

United returns to CONCACAF Champions League action Wednesday night at home vs. Tauro FC, the first of two matches between the clubs. United need one point total to advance to the next stage of the tournament.

THE GOOD: Silva continues to impress. His 0.67 goals per 90 minutes is seventh in the league among those players with 10 or more goals.

THE BAD: First-place teams shouldn’t give up late leads, but that’s what happened Saturday night. The goal was a bit unlucky due to the deflection, but as the games get more important down the stretch, D.C. must be better focused at solid defending for 90 minutes.

THE UGLY: Chicago now has more points from ties this season (16) than wins (15). The 16th draw tied the MLS record for a single season, shared with both the 2011 Fire and the ’11 New York Red Bulls. Chicago has six matches left this season to grab the record all for itself.

NOTES: United is 10 points clear of the Philadelphia Union for an Eastern Conference playoff spot. Philadelphia played a scoreless draw with Houston on Saturday. Any combination of six gained points by United or lost by the Union will clinch a postseason spot for D.C. … Saturday’s draw may have done irreversible damage to United’s Supporters Shield bid. D.C. is now six points back of both Seattle and the L.A. Galaxy, and one point behind Real Salt Lake. … United have now scored 20 away goals this season, two less than they scored anywhere all of last year. … The Fire took 19 shots to United’s nine, but D.C. was much more precise, putting seven on target to Chicago’s six.

Ed Morgans is the D.C. United Page Editor for District Sports Page. For in-game analysis and story notifications, follow him on Twitter @writered21.

About Ed Morgans

Ed Morgans is DC United Page Editor for District Sports Page. Ed worked for The Journal Newspapers (now The Examiner) and covered DC United from 1997-2002. He spent the 2003 season writing for the club’s website. Ed has covered All-Star Games, MLS Cups, CONCACAF Champions Cup, World Cup qualifiers, and international friendlies. He also worked as a blogger at www.bigsoccer.com, the country’s leading soccer message board website. You can follow Ed on Twitter @writerEd21.

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