CHICAGO - The Chicago Fire Reserves (5-2-2 17 pts.) showed the same fighting spirit the first-team displayed on Saturday, this time coming back from a one-goal D.C. United (5-4-0 15 pts.) lead in the second half to register a 4-1 victory at the pristine grounds of Lake Forest Academy in Lake Forest, IL this afternoon. D.C. forward Jamil Walker would put the visitors in front just after the halftime break, but Fire rookie forward Chad Barrett would have the final say after scoring all four of the Fire Reserves' goals to help move Chicago past United atop the Reserve Division table. Barrett's impressive effort also moved him to the top of the Reserve Division's scoring chart, the UCLA product now with seven goals on the season.
Play began with the Fire and United both feeling each other out in the middle of the field, relying on hopeful, counter-attacking long ball services to bypass chippy midfield play. The leisurely pace led to a good number of slow passes on both ends, giving both teams opportunity to deliver strong tackles in order to pry away the ball which forced referee Cien Asoera to issue three yellow cards in the first 45 minutes to clean up play. The half would be played predominantly in United's end of the field, with the game opening up offensively in the 17th minute for the Fire as forward Will Johnson found himself open within six yards from goal, his cracker of a shot heading straight into the awaiting hands of United goalkeeper Troy Perkins.
Seven minutes later United would have one of their best chances of the first half, as a misclearance from Fire midfielder Jared Montz would lay off a dangerous ball for D.C. forward Jamil Walker, whose shot from 10 yards out was defected away by Fire netminder Matt Pickens, seeing his first action since suffering a groin injury in May. United forward Matt Nickell was able to get a strike on the subsequent rebound, but his attempt from six yards out was smothered by Pickens. Both sides would continue to search for any sort rhythm in the midfield, but both failed to capitalize on any precious chances developed at all in the first half, leaving the first 45 minutes of play without a goal.
D.C. United would come out the stronger attacking side to begin the second half, pressuring the Fire goal from the start. The attacking nature would quickly prove positive for the D.C. club, as midfielder Kenny Arena was able to free Walker with a superb through-ball, which the speedy forward slipped past onrushing Fire 'keeper David Mahoney from 10 yards out to give the United Reserves a 1-0 lead in the 48th minute.
The halftime move by Fire Reserves Head Coach Denis Hamlett to insert Barrett into the match would eventually help turn the tide in favor the Fire attack, with Chicago again able to regain the majority of possession throughout the second half. The Fire's determination to get the equalizer would finally pan out in the 57th minute when Johnson was taken down inside United's 18-yard box, giving the home side a penalty kick opportunity. Barrett's rocket of a strike from the spot in the 58th minute grazed the fingertips of Perkins, but was just too much to handle as the ball smacked the back of the net to tie the game at 1-1.
The Fire would find itself going down a man in the 62nd minute, as defender Jared Montz batted down a sizzling aerial pass destined for the penalty area with his right arm to earn himself his second yellow card on the day and the subsequent red card ejection. The Fire countered its lack of personnel with more finishing from Barrett, who put Chicago on top with a great individual effort that saw him slip by one defender and quickly juke an onrushing Perkins to strike from eight yards to give the Fire a 2-1 lead.
An insurance goal would come in the 67th minute, as a well-flighted Johnson service to the far right side would meet the feet of second-half sub Hemir Niebles, whose pass to Barrett inside the penalty area was right on the money. Barrett took a shot from the same location as his previous goal and had the same result, putting it past Perkins to give the Fire Reserves a 3-1 cushion. The combination of Niebles and Johnson would provide yet another goal in the 84th minute, as Niebles' long service found Johnson near the top of the 18. Johnson turned to slip a grounder of a through-ball to Barrett, who once again faked out the D.C. 'keeper and finished off his four-goal day by sending the ball into the left side netting.
Including the day's result, the Fire Reserves have not conceded a loss since a defeat at the New England Reserves on May 8, extending its winning streak to four games. The result put Chicago on top of the Reserve Division with 17 points, placing the Fire two points clear of second-place United with three games remaining for both sides. The Fire Reserves will look to continue their winning ways when they travel to face the L.A. Galaxy in a Labor Day clash on Sept. 5, while D.C. United will look to get back to the Reserve Division's top spot on Sunday, Sep. 4 in a road contest of their own at the Colorado Rapids Reserves.
DCU - Jamil Walker 4 (Kenny Arena 1) 48
CHI - Chad Barrett 4 (penalty kick) 57
CHI - Chad Barrett 5 (unassisted) 64
CHI - Chad Barrett 6 (Will Johnson 4, Hemir Niebles 2) 67
CHI - Chad Barrett 7 (Hemir Niebles 3, Will Johnson 5) 84
Chicago Fire Reserves (3-5-2) - GK-Matt Pickens (David Mahoney 46), D-Jack Stewart, D-Tony Sanneh, D-Gonzalo Segares, M-Will John, M-John Thorrington (Hemir Niebles 64), M-Jared Montz, M-Scott Buete (Ryan Futagaki 83), M-Thiago (Kenneth Robinson 56), F-Lubos Reiter (Chad Barrett 46) (Demetrius White 85), F-Will Johnson.
Substitutes Not Used: Sean Reti
D.C. United Reserves (3-5-2) - GK-Troy Perkins, D-Tim Merritt (Jason Amaguana 89), D-Bobby Boswell, D-Kenny Arena, M-Nick Van Sicklen, M-Clyde Simms (John Wilson 73), M-Shawn Kuykendall, M-Nana Kuffour, M-Jason Thompson, F-Jamil Walker (Andrew Webber 86), F-Matt Nickell.
Substitutes Not Used: None.
CHI - Gonzalo Segares (caution) 15
DCU - Nick Van Sicklen (caution) 26
CHI - Jared Montz (caution) 40
CHI - Jared Montz (ejection, second caution) 63
Referee: Cien Asoera
Referee's Assistants: Peter Balciunas, James Walters
4th Official: Tim Deters
Weather: Sunny, 83 degrees