six days shy of his 42nd birthday -- raced onto the end of a fine ball from Chris Klein as the Wizards broke on the counter, and after setting up both defender and goalkeeper in the area coolly slotted home inside the left-hand post for his first goal since the 2003 season.
Here's Dave Sarachan's team (4-3-1-2): Zach Thornton - Tony Sanneh, Jim Curtin, Gonzalo Segares, Ivan Guerrero - Logan Pause (John Thorrington 80), Chris Armas, Justin Mapp - Thiago - Nate Jaqua (Lubos Reiter 85), Chris Rolfe (Jesse Marsch 71).
Here's Bob Gansler's team (4-4-2): Bo Oshoniyi - Nick Garcia, Jimmy Conrad, Shavar Thomas (Preki 76), Jose Burciaga Jr. - Chris Klein, Diego Gutierrez, Kerry Zavagnin, Sasha Victorine - Josh Wolff (Jack Jewsbury 88), Davy Arnaud (Scott Sealy 71)
HISTORYA year ago, the teams met three times, with the Wizards failing to come away with a win. They met twice at Arrowhead Stadium: the teams playing to a scoreless draw in the season opener on April 3, then about a month later (May 8), playing to a 2-2 draw there (Klein 9, Arnaud 64 - Mapp 52, Selolwane 83).
Then on Sept. 1 at Soldier Field, the Wizards once again failed to come away with a point from a trip to the Windy City, the Fire claiming a 3-1 victory (Mapp 23, Williams 67, Capano 71 - Wolff 36).
The Fire have never lost to the Wizards in Chicago. Since coming into the league in 1998 the Fire had won all nine meetings between the teams before the draw earlier this year, the Wizards scoring just seven goals. Just twice in Chicago have the Wizards lost by a single goal - Sept. 17, 1998 (0-1) and April 26, 2003 (2-3).
Of the 'original' 10 non-expansion teams in the league, the Fire vs. Wizards matchup is the only one where one team has failed to win at the other's home. The next closest disadvantage is San Jose's record at Columbus, where the Earthquakes have won just twice in 13 matches (no draws). Columbus has won just once in 11 trips to Denver (but with three draws), while New England has just one win on their 11 trips to face the Galaxy (with two draws).
Overall, the Wizards haven't won in the last five meetings between the teams, and just twice in the last 12 dating back to June 4, 2000 (with three draws in that stretch). Over that time, the Wizards have been shutout in four of those games (one a scoreless draw).
Coaches record: Dave Sarachan vs. KC: P7 W3 L1 D3... Bob Gansler v CHI: P16 W3 L10 D3
The Chicago Fire remain tied for the top spot in the Eastern Conference despite seeing a desperate comeback fall just short in a 3-2 loss to D.C. United on Saturday night at Soldier Field. The Fire are still level with the New England Revolution on 36 points, though the Fire have played 22 matches, two more than the Revs. Their lead over joint third-place United and the Kansas City Wizards is now just four points.
D.C. United lost Freddy Adu to injury early in the contest, but were able to break open a taut contest with the first goal just before the break. Brian Carroll hit for his first MLS goal after a lovely buildup, Jaime Moreno playing the ball into the heart of the box where Christian Gomez knocked it down for Carroll to side-foot home (40).
United then grabbed command of the match with two goals in seven minutes. Santino Quaranta found Dema Kovalenko steaming forward on the left and he burst into the area before ripping home a low drive (72), then Moreno converted from the penalty spot after Gomez was hauled down from behing by substitute Thiago (78).
Yet the Fire were given a glimmer of hope five minutes later when Lubos Reiter stabbed home from close range after a loose ball fell from a corner kick, then five minutes after that Ivan Guerrero whipped in a pinpoint cross from the left that found Chris Rolfe alone at the back post and he headed home Chicago's second.
But while Rolfe had another clear header from a Guerrero cross in stoppage time, he couldn't beat Nick Rimando and United escaped with the three points in another wild encounter between the Eastern Conference rivals this season.
Fire coach Dave Sarachan made just one change to the team that defeated the New England Revolution 3-2 in extra time in the U.S. Open Cup fourth round at midweek, the Fire's first match in 10 days. Chris Armas returned to the lineup after missing five matches through international duty, coming in for Thiago in central midfield.
Here's Sarachan's team (4-4-2): Zach Thornton - Samuel Caballero, C.J. Brown, Jim Curtin (Lubos Reiter 75), Ivan Guerrero - Logan Pause, Chris Armas, Jesse Marsch (Thiago 64), Justin Mapp - Andy Herron (Chad Barrett 46), Chris Rolfe
"We had a push at the end and I really thought we were going to get the equalizer. It took us a while to get going tonight. D.C. sat back and it made it hard for us to play," Sarachan said. "But still we never got our attack going and the ball wasn't moving as quick as we'd like. Being down 3-0 is a tough situation, but I will reiterate that this is a team that doesn't quit. We got ourselves going and pushed the game at the end. That part of it is a high note, but it is still a tough loss for our team."
TEAM NEWSSarachan could have a selection issue ahead as Thiago returned to action in a league game for the first time in more than a month (four games, since July 2), though he started the Open Cup match four days previous.
"It's the same thing we've been doing all season. It's not going to change much. We scored two goals tonight. Thiago came in and, obviously, we were a little more offensive," Chris Rolfe said. "There's not much we can really tinker with too much over the next couple of days."
The Fire have now allowed seven goals in their last two matches, and 11 in four games in all this season against United.
"It was the team. We can't blame it on the midfield. You don't put the blame on one or two guys. A lot of problems happened tonight. You don't want to give up three goals at home, for sure," Sarachan said. "There were a number of reasons there were goals scored against us, not just because of the midfield. I think we're a great team defensively, but we've given up too many goals this year. They allowed us a lot of territory out there, and we just didn't do well on the counter."
KANSAS CITY WIZARDS
The Kansas City Wizards moved closer to the top of the Eastern Conference table after knocking off top dog New England Revolution 2-1 at Gillette Stadium on Saturday evening. The Wizards kept pace with D.C. United, the teams tied for third place with 32 points, though the Wizards have played one more match. The two are now four points behind joint leaders New England and the Chicago Fire.
A tight match burst into life just after the halftime break as the Revolution and Wizards traded goals within a minute. Josh Wolff played a lovely ball over the New England defense for Chris Klein to run on to and he sent a composed finish home (47).
But barely a minute later Taylor Twellman curled in a cross from the right side of the area and Shalrie Joseph ran past the static defense to head home from close range.
Then 16 minutes from time the visitors hit for the go-ahead goal, Jose Burciaga finding Wolff who again played provider, this time splitting a pair of Revolution defenders to find the on-rushing Scott Sealy who made no mistake from inside the area.
"It certainly was a tale of two halves. In the first half, it was a combination of their good play and us not playing well offensively," Wizards boss Bob Gansler said. "The second half, we hung in there and we were better with the ball."
Gansler made two changes to the team that hammered the PDL Des Moines Menace 6-1 at midweek in the fourth round of the Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup. Bo Oshoniyi took back the starting goalkeeping role, while Scott Sealy returned to partner Josh Wolff in attack, Davy Arnaud returning to a wide midfield role as Jack Jewsbury returned to the substitutes' bench.
Here's Gansler's team (4-4-2): Bo Oshoniyi - Khari Stephenson (Brian Roberts 71), Jimmy Conrad, Shavar Thomas, Jose Burciaga Jr. - Chris Klein, Sasha Victorine, Kerry Zavagnin, Davy Arnaud - Josh Wolff, Scott Sealy (Jack Jewsbury 77)
"In the first half we were so mediocre with the ball. It's not that we didn't want to attack. It was one pass, two passes and then out. We laid some out for them, we had some turnovers in our own half, and consequently they had opportunities. We wanted to attack just as much in the first half as we did in the second. At halftime, it was a matter of, 'let's take care of the ball', things we talked about in terms of swinging the ball out. We thought it was there the first half."
TEAM NEWSGansler praised U.S. international Josh Wolff for his display. Wolff did well to track back in midfield, run at the Revolution defense and distribute when given the opportunity. He figured in both strikes for the visitors.
"Josh is our catalyst. Guys have to run off him and trust him. The first half, we weren't even getting it to him or we would get it to him in such a fashion that he would be double- and triple-teamed by the time it got there.
Rookie Scott Sealy has grabbed his starting role with both hands. He has four goals in the last four league games for the Wizards, and five goals in the last five Kansas City games in all competitions. He has started the eight games in a row for Gansler, displacing Davy Arnaud from the starting striker spot.