October 27, 2012
Kathryn L. Knapp
NOT QUITE ENOUGH
Fire push everything at goal, end in 1-1 draw
BRIDGEVIEW, Ill. – The Fire jumped out to an early lead Saturday afternoon at Toyota Park. But it wasn’t enough as D.C. United fought back and forced a 1-1 draw.
|Patrick Nyarko's goal gave the Fire an early lead over DC United on Saturday, but it didn't hold up, leaving Chicago with a 1-1 draw and no better than fourth place in the MLS East.
Linda Cuttone/Sports Vue Images
The result leaves the Fire at 17-11-6, tied with the third-place New York Red Bulls at 57 points, but fourth in the standings on the total goals tiebreaker and therefore forced to open the playoffs with a wild-card match against the Houston Dynamo, who will finish fifth. DC finishes second in the MLS East at 17-10-7 (58).
Fire midfielder Patrick Nyarko was taken down just outside the box in the sixth minute for a Fire free kick. Pavel Pardo kicked a perfect ball on target. D.C. United goalkeeper Bill Hamid grabbed it for the save.
Sherjill MacDonald made a run toward goal in the 16th minute. Surrounded by defenders, MacDonald backheeled the ball. Nyarko took control, dodged a defender and rocketed a blast into the upper right corner past a diving Hamid for a 1-0 Fire lead.
In the 20th minute, Nyarko took off and raced down field. Nyarko forwarded the ball to Chris Rolfe, who crossed the ball to MacDonald. Wide open MacDonald blasted an attempt at goal. Hamid blocked the attempt.
In the 26th minute, Austin Berry got tangled up with a D.C.’s Lionard Pajoy for a United freekick. Branko Boskovic sent the ball just wide right. Three minutes later, Jalil Anibaba took down Pajoy for another D.C. free kick, but to no avail.
Pajoy broke free from the pack in the 37th minute, challenging Fire goalkeeper Sean Johnson one vs. one. But before he could take a shot, two Fire defenders shut him down. Pajoy fell to the pitch, without contact from anyone and play continued. Pajoy had another attempt in the 42nd minute, sending a long ball directly on target. Johnson blocked it for the save.
Pajoy picked up where he left off, looking to get his team on the bord. And in the 51st minute, he succeeded. Boskovic crossed the ball into the box. Pajoy headed it on target. The ball bounced off Johnson and into the net, evening the score at 1-1.
In the 56th minute, Andy Najar took down Gonzalo Segares for a Fire freekick. Pardo bent it into the box. Segares headed it toward goal, but Hamid grabbed it for the save.
The Fire turned up the heat in the 63rd minute, with Nyarko and MacDonald taking back-to-back shots. D.C.’s defense was unable to silence the attack. Finally Hamid grabbed the ball and smothered it.
One minute later, MacDonald made a run, passed the ball to Rolfe, who flicked it over to Alvaro Fernandez. Fernandez shot the ball just wide of the goal.
Chicago brought out some fresh legs in the 68th minute when Dominic Oduro and Alex took the pitch, replacing Fernandez and Fire captain Logan Pause.
Johnson earned his third save of the match, when a missed defensive clear nearly bounced in the box. Johnson dove to his left and grabbed the ball just before it bounced in.
Oduro nearly tallied in the 73rd minute, sending a short ball into Hamid’s arms. In the 76th minute, MacDonald crossed the ball to Oduro, who sent it just over the crossbar and out.
Another Fire attempt led to Oduro challenging Hamid. The play ended in pushing and shoving from both sides. The referee called a foul on Oduro once the conflict in the box ended.
Pardo bent a freekick into the box in the 85th minute. Fire defender Jalil Anibaba headed a low ball on target. Hamid grabbed it for the save.
Four minutes of stoppage time nearly ended in a goal for Chicago. Guillermo Franco passed the ball back to Gonzalo Segares, who sent the ball into the middle of the box, MacDonald sent it just over the net. Chicago kept fighting. Three missed attempts followed that one. Alex ripped the ball toward goal toward the end of stoppage time, with Hamid pushing it just over the bar. A corner kick attempt fell short as the game ended in a 1-1 draw.