Dramatic comeback in D.C. has Fire believing in playoffs

Frank Klopas - October 15, 2011

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The Chicago Fire were dead to rights. Completely. Totally. Dead.

D.C. midfielder Dwayne De Rosario converted a 90th minute penalty kick to give United a late 1-0 lead over Chicago, who needed to beat D.C. at RFK Stadium on Saturday night to keep their thin playoff hopes alive.

The Fire had just three minutes of stoppage time to get two goals – a nearly impossible task.  And when it was easier to put their heads down and return to Chicago losers, they got goals from midfielder Sebastian Grazzini and forward Diego Chaves to steal the 2-1 win and keep their postseason dreams afloat.

“I don’t know [how we did it],” Fire defender Gonzalo Segares told MLSsoccer.com after the match. “We’ve been fighting a lot this season. We keep getting punched and we just go right back up. That’s just how it works. We went a goal behind and we could’ve put our heads down but we kept fighting and we found those two goals that gave us the win.”

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Segares played the biggest role in the game’s wild finish, fouling United midfielder Santino Quaranta to concede the penalty kick before dishing out assists on both of the Fire’s goals. Chaves’ winner, which was set up by Segares’ inch-perfect cross, was sweet vindication for the Costa Rican left back, who called the penalty call a bit soft.

More important than any personal redemption for Segares, however, is the fact that the win keeps Chicago in the playoff hunt heading into the final weekend. The 12th-place Fire are now just three points behind New York for the 10th and final playoff spot with one game remaining for both sides.

They still have a tall hill to climb to make the playoffs – Chicago need to win their final game against Columbus next week and hope for a litany of negative results for New York, Portland and D.C. – but, after Saturday night’s wild ending, the team feels that nothing is out of reach.

“You know what? After looking at what just happened, we’re thinking that anything’s possible,” Segares said. “We still have a chance mathematically and we got to go out next weekend against Columbus and get three points. It might not be totally in our hands but we’re hopeful.”

Sam Stejskal covers the Chicago Fire for MLSsoccer.com.  Email him at sam.h.stejskal@gmail.com and follow him on Twitter @samstejskal.