DC shutdown: Chicago Fire hail Sean Johnson's "massive, unbelievable" stops in clutch win
D.C. United had six more shots, twice as many successful passes, and four times as many corners as the Chicago Fire on Friday.
But the Fire had Sean Johnson and a nose for goal, and that was more than enough in a 3-0 win.
“They had kind of a second-string team, guys were rested from the Open Cup, guys who are on this team who are hungry, they're good players, they came out and they were not going to give up,” Soumare told MLSsoccer.com. “We came out and scored, which is huge for us. Sean came up up with some big-time saves and that's what your goalkeeper does. That gives us a boost of confidence.”
D.C. United came out and controlled possession from the outset, and Conor Doyle forced Johnson into his first of several diving saves in the fifth minute.
But everything changed midway through the first half. In the 24th minute Juan Luis Anangono cut into the penalty area and found Larentowicz, who finished past D.C. goalkeeper Joe Willis. Barely two minutes later, Soumare scored the first goal of his MLS career when he settled a loose ball in the box and scored in the aftermath of a free kick. Amarikwa sealed the result with a goal of his own in the 89th.
Johnson did the rest, making kick saves, diving saves and timely punches throughout the match to help give Chicago their fifth clean sheet of the season.
“He was massive. Sean is just unbelievable,” Soumare said. “Week in and week out, he's a kid that works really, really hard. It's no wonder why he's in contention to be a US national team goalkeeper. I don't say that about every one of my teammates. He's one of the best goalkeepers in the league.”
After beginning the day in eighth place, Chicago moved up to fifth with the win. Philadelphia, New England, and Columbus all have games this weekend with chances to take that playoff spot away, but regardless, the Fire kept themselves in the hunt.
“We know it's going to be a battle. These last three games are going to be huge for us,” Soumare said. “I'm excited, man. It's a fantastic scenario, and we're going to fight to the end. Most of the guys on this team are fighters. We think that come October 27, we'll be right there with everybody else.
“Myself and my teammates are confident we can make a push. We'll make it happen.”