D.C. United left stunned by stoppage time collapse vs. Fire

WASHINGTON – In the span of five minutes, a sense of relief was quickly replaced by utter dejection for D.C. United.

In need of three points to keep their flickering playoff hopes alive, D.C. took a 1-0 lead in the 90th minute over the Chicago Fire, and just stoppage time separated them from a massive win in the chase for the postseason.

But as has happened so often this year, their lead was not secure even for a few stoppage time minutes. Two quick-fire strikes from the Chicago Fire left D.C. United reeling for their fourth straight loss. D.C. now has to win their final two matches and hope for help to secure a wild card berth.

“I’m gutted, absolutely,” a subdued Ben Olsen said after the game. “It’s one of the toughest losses I’ve ever taken.”

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Added forward Charlie Davies: “I’ve never seen that in my life. You think it’s in the bag, and all of a sudden they get an equalizer, and then they win the game. Two goals in two minutes.”

A win would have lifted United to within two points of the New York Red Bulls, which lost 2-0 earlier in the day.

“It doesn’t even cross your mind, it’s very, very disappointing on a lot of fronts,” forward Josh Wolff said. “Obviously it means we’re in trouble, but hopefully we still have a chance to get in.”

The stunning developments of the game’s closing minutes erased the joy of Dwayne De Rosario’s penalty kick, on a night in which D.C. struggled to create much offense with only one shot of 13 hitting the target.

Coming off of two days of rest, Olsen had kept the plan simple in hopes of picking up the result.

“Wasn’t an easy game for those guys, flying back from Vancouver after a tough loss,” he said. “I thought there was some heavy [legs] out there who pushed through it. The game plan was to grind it out – we did it, got our PK, thought there was a couple other ones potentially… It just fell apart from there.”

It left players and coaches stunned, grasping for a way to explain the collapse.

“It would be easy to say that’s a snapshot of what’s occurred throughout the year,” Wolff said. “We said these things can’t happen down the stretch and I don’t know how it happened but it did. It’s disappointing.”