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A View From the Upper Deck a DC United vs Chicago Fire FC Game Review



That’s the feeling coming out of last night’s draw against the Chicago Fire. The Fire, were on a four-match losing streak, and DC didn’t take advantage of that.

This was a very disappointing result for the Black & Red. Maybe as disappointing as the losses to the Red Bulls and Orlando City, because of the current state of Chicago. At least the Red Bulls are one of the best teams in MLS this season. Orlando was last season, and it was expected they would turn it around at some point this season. Chicago on the other hand is bad. They were bad last year, and the year before that, and they are bad this season. Yet last night they outplayed DC United, who was lucky to get a point.

What’s worse is they were outplaying DC using United’s tactics. Like the Red Bulls the week before, DC had trouble handling a pressing team, who turned turnovers into scoring opportunities. Unlike New York, Chicago wasn’t able to turn those opportunities into goals. That was because of stellar goalkeeping by Bono, and players like Steve Birnbaum laying it all on the field.

United will take the point, but it was a very disappointing performance.

First Half

The Black & Red’s start was a bit ragged, and chipp. There were a couple hard fouls by both teams that set the tone for a tense encounter.

Neither team managed a shot on goal until the 19th minute. It was Christian Benteke who put a header on frame. It forced a diving save from Chicago goalkeeper Chris Brady, 

Christopher McVey broke the deadlock in the 20th minute, scoring his first goal for DC United. His well-placed finish came from a free-kick routine, where Klich’s free kick found Steve Birnbaum who headed the ball into McVey’s path, who one-touched his shot giving United a 1-0 advantage.

United would keep up the pressure, and Ted Ku-Dipietro created a great scoring opportunity when he crossed the ball. Benteke was taken down just as he was leaping to head the ball. It looked like a clear penalty, but the referee waved it off. It was difficult to tell from the stands if a VAR took place, but if it did it took a few seconds. This is the second home game where referees seem to feel that fouling Christian Benteke is okay because of his size.

In the end, United played well in the first half, but couldn’t get the second goal.

Score at the first half whistle - DC United 1 - Chicago Fire FC. 0

Second Half

The second half was not a good outing for DC United. Chicago was more aggressive and better at the press. They made some changes to their formation and made it difficult for United to get any control, despite playing a man up. Throughout the second 45 minutes, the Fire pushed hard in for the equalizer, which came in the 53rd minute. Kellyn Acosta evened the score when he capitalized on a deflection off a through-ball attempt to beat Alex Bono.

Only some amazing saves by Alex Bono kept Chicago from equalizing.

United did threaten a few times, but they didn’t create chances like the Fire. At one point United had a dangerous push into Chicago’s penalty box, but the ball ended up behind Jacob Murrell, and when Gabriel Pirani picked up the ball, he blasted the ball off Chicago defender Federico Navarro’s face.

Kristian Fletcher had a moment where he turned a defender all around, and got into the box with the ball, but he tried a tight shot as he had no United players open to pass to. His shot earned a corner kick. Unfortunately on the ensuing corner Birnbaum was called for a foul despite the Chicago player going into his knees. Considering his injury history, Birnbaum was livid, and picked up a yellow card for his reaction.

Both teams pressed for a winner late in the second half. Chicago came closest in stoppage time, but Maren Haile-Selassie’s effort was deflected out of play by Steve Birnbaum.

The Black & Red were hanging on by their fingernails, literally as Bono plucked one shot out of the air by the tips of his fingers, when a Chicago player turned a turnover into a quick attack. Both goalkeepers played well down the stretch, and no outfielder could make a play.

In the end it was another rain-soaked clash that left United missing out on points.

Full Time 

DC United 1  - Chicago Fire FV 1


View of the Coach:

“I thought the first half was a good start. I wouldn’t say great, in the second half wasn’t good enough from us and I thought Chicago was better than us in the second half.”

“In the end, we are fortunate to get a point out of that, and that’s not good enough.”

Man of the Match: Alex Bono

DC United would not have pulled out the draw, if not for the play of Alex Bono. He made several plays in the second half that kept a disappointing draw from becoming a devastating loss.

Written by: RJ Rolsen 

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