Chicago Fire 3-0 DC United
BRIDGEVIEW, IL—Despite dressing just 17 players due to various injuries to key players and a suspension to Michael de Leeuw, those that were on the pitch for the Fire did a superb job in a 3-0 win over DC United. The Fire managed to gain on NYCFC who were held in Colorado and on teams below them such as Columbus (draw at Vancouver), Atlanta (draw vs. Orlando), Montreal (lost to Minnesota), and New England (lost at Sporting KC).
After an early period where DC were the more dangerous side, the Fire took control of the match. However, the challenge was getting one past Bill Hamid. Hamid had already denied Nemanja Nikolic twice in the first 20 minutes. In the 23rd minute, Hamid was beaten by his own teammate as Ian Harkes inadvertently headed in a long throw-in from Matt Polster for an own goal.
Luciano Acosta put a couple shots on target to start the second half, but Matt Lampson was up to the task both times. The match was essentially put out of reach in the 62nd minute after Arturo Alvarez’s cross was met by a diving header by Brandon Vincent past Hamid. It was Vincent’s second goal of the season.
“Great ball from [Alvarez],” said Vincent. “That’s all I can say. He put it on an absolute platter for me and I got free at the back post and got a header and it was in. Earlier, I didn’t see anyone tracking me; their wing, I didn’t know where he was. I kind of put my hand up to tell Artie that I was open on the back post and he found me. That was it.”
One more for good measure came in the 90th minute after Russell Canouse clipped Luis Solignac in the area and Nikolic converted the spot kick for his 18th of the season tying the Fire’s single-season record set by Ante Razov in 2000.
Fire head coach Veljko Paunovic praised his defense for an improved performance from last week against New York Red Bulls.
“We defended very, very well,” said Paunovic. “In the past, we had some games where we were falling like dominoes and committing a lot of mistakes. Today, that didn’t happen. Obviously, you commit mistakes, everyone does that. But there was a guy who can stop a domino falling by being alert, being aware, and being focused.
“That defensive attitude that was lacked, especially in that tough stretch of four games where we didn’t win, I think that’s back and it also goes together with the attacking performance and that’s important if you want to be successful. Don’t concede goals and every time you have the opportunity or create enough opportunities so you can covert as much as you can and have great wins like we have today.”
Arturo Alvarez, making his first start since July, sensed that the team was returning to the form they had during May and June.
“It’s something we kind of went away from that a little bit, but we knew that was in there,” said Alvarez. “We had to dig deep and make sure that we got it out, tonight.”
The Fire travel to Philadelphia, next Saturday, to play the Union. Kickoff is at 6pm on CSN Chicago Plus.
CHI-Ian Harkes (own goal) 22
CHI-Brandon Vincent (Alvarez, Conner) 62
CHI-Nemanja Nikolic (penalty kick) 90
CHI-Brandon Vincent (caution, tactical foul) 15
CHICAGO FIRE (4-2-3-1): #28-Matt Lampson; #2-Matt Polster, #4-Johan Kappelhof, #16-Jonathan Campbell, #3-Brandon Vincent; #18-Drew Conner, #6-Dax McCarty; #12-Arturo Alvarez (#66-Joao Meira 71, #9-Luis Solignac, #11-David Accam; #23-Nemanja Nikolic (#10-David Arshakyan 91+)
Subs not used: #45-Richard Sanchez, #5-Michael Harrington, #13-Brandt Bronico, #14-Djordje Mihailovic
DC UNITED (4-2-3-1): #28-Bill Hamid; #3-Chris Odoi-Atsem, #15-Steve Birnbaum (#19-Zoltan Stieber 78), #6-Kofi Opare, #14-Nick DeLeon; #8-Lloyd Sam, #4-Russell Canouse; #13-Paul Arriola (#27-Bruno Miranda 84), #10-Luciano Acosta, #23-Ian Harkes; #17-Deshorn Brown (#16-Patrick Mullins 63)
Subs not used: #50-Steve Clark, #22-Chris Korb, #20-Jalen Robinson, #7-Marcelo Sarvas
TOTAL SHOTS: CHI 21-10 DC
SHOTS ON GOAL: CHI 8-4 DC
FOULS: CHI 13-4 DC
OFFSIDES: CHI 1-2 DC
CORNER KICKS: CHI 9-3 DC
SAVES: CHI 4-5 DC
Referee: Ismail Elfath
Assistant Referees: Kermit Quisenberry, Phil Briere
4th Official: Sorin Stoica
Video Assistant Referee: Kevin Terry Jr.
Weather: Mostly Sunny and 81º
Man of the Match: Brandon Vincent (CHI)