Fire defense makes i
by Charles Cuttone
Fire defense makes it easy for DC United
WASHINGTON, DC---Giving away soft goals is only going to make clinching a playoff spot that much harder for the Chicago Fire. Especially when those soft goals are against a team like DC United, which is nipping at their heels in the MLS East.
|Daniel Paladini scored his first goal of the season in the Fire’s 4-2 loss to DC United Wednesday night at RFK Stadium.
Linda Cuttone/Sports Vue Images
Fire coach Frank Klopas described all four of the goals the team gave up in the 4-2 loss at RFK Stadium Wednesday night as soft.
“We gave up, I felt an easy goal, both the first and the second,” said Klopas, then, reconsidering, continued, “even the third goal, even the fourth goal.”
Dwayne De Rosario gave DC United the lead in the 19th minute, in his well-known goal poacher fashion. Chris Pontius worked his way to the edge of the Fire penalty area and sent a grass cutter skittering through the area. Fire goalkeeper Sean Johnson came out to try to cut off the cross, but could not get to it. De Rosario was waiting at the left post ready to poke it in for his sixth goal of the season.
It looked like DC would go into the half with a 1-0 lead, but the Fire managed a nice buildup from midfield with Sherjill MacDonald making a run down the middle of the field and dishing the ball off to Marco Pappa, who was near the edge of the penalty area. Pappa fed the ball to Daniel Paladini for the finish past DC goalkeeper Bill Hamid.
But the half didn’t end in a tie. DC quickly answered just seconds later. Andy Najar controlled the ball down the right wing and sent a beautifully-timed cross to the opposite post, where recently-acquired striker Lionard Pajoy went up for the header and nodded the ball past Johnson for his first DC goal.
It was the second goal that most likely was the killer for the Fire, since it came less than a minute after they had equalized just before the end of the half, although at that point, Klopas said the team was still in it.
“The second and the third goals those really (hurt) because we scored a nice goal late in the half,” Klopas said. “You can come in, regroup (at the half) and come out and I think at that moment, momentum began shifting. We gave up a second goal, very soft, right before the half and I think it was the one, not so much that hurt you, but the third, one, because you dig a deeper hole.”
That hole got dug in the 51st minute following a corner kick. The ball was cleared out of the penalty area, where Chris Korb picked it up some 35 yards out on the left side. He lobbed a soft high ball to the opposite side of the area, and Brandon McDonald turned his head just enough to gently direct it inside the left post.
“We could have put them away much earlier,” said United coach Ben Olsen after his team outshot Chicago 10-3 in the first half and 12-9 in the second.
Chicago didn’t give up the fight, and pulled within one in the 75th minute. Pavel Pardo teed up a long free kick from the right side about 35 yards out and sent a ball floating to the far side of the area. As he was falling down, Gonzalo Segares got his head on the ball and sent it to the inside of the right post.
But De Rosario helped put the final nail in the Fire’s coffin in the 89th minute, slipping a ball from near the end line on the right side to second half sub Long Tan, who put it past the exasperated Johnson.
“It was a tough one for all us the way around,” said Johnson. “We started a bit slow and going down early was tough. Then scoring and going down immediately again, I think we were all just a bit slow today. A bad, bad day for the team. “
The Fire has some time to get ready for its next game, a home contest against the Houston Dynamo on September 2.