The Chicago Fire revived their flat-lining playoff hopes at RFK Stadium on Saturday night, getting two stoppage-time goals to cancel out D.C. United’s 90th-minute penalty kick and pull out a 2-1 victory.
This week’s On Fire takes a look back at Saturday’s “Capital Comeback” and peeks ahead to the biggest week of Chicago’s season.
Grazzini strikes again
Attacking midfielder Sebastián Grazzini came through in a big way again, scoring an absolutely fantastic stoppage-time equalizer after Dwayne De Rosario’s penalty kick had put the home side ahead 1-0.
The impactful Argentine scored in the 93rd minute, collecting left back Gonzalo Segares’ lay-off just outside the 18 and burying a swerving left-footer into the top left corner. The strike – which is nominated for MLS Goal of the Week – was Grazzini’s fifth goal in 11 league games since joining Chicago in mid-July.
“I saw Seba and saw that he was open and just gave him the ball and he scored a great goal,” Segares told MLSsoccer.com after the match. “He put it right in the corner.”
Segares rues penalty call
Segares didn’t come out and publicly disagree with referee Jorge Gonzalez’s 90th-minute penalty decision, but he came pretty darn close.
The Costa Rican, who conceded the penalty by fouling D.C. midfielder Santino Quaranta in the box, told MLSsoccer.com after the match that he was disappointed with Gonzalez’s call, which he thought was unduly influenced by United’s aggressive tactics toward the man in the middle.
“Maybe I was pressuring him a little bit harder than I should have,” Segares said. “But that entire game, from the coaches to the players, they kept going to Jorge and complaining about calls. In the first half, they wanted [a penalty], the second half they wanted another PK for a handball on [Fire attacker Patrick Nyarko], it was absurd.
"They just put a lot of pressure on him. Any little thing that happened he was going to call it and unfortunately it was on me. But these things happen, you just got to be smarter and learn from it.”
Crucial week ahead
The Fire had the day off on Monday and will start preparing for Saturday’s crucial home game against Columbus at training on Tuesday.
Chicago will be hoping their match against the Crew will mean something, but they’ll be out of luck unless a few results go their way prior to Saturday’s 7:30 pm CT kickoff. Specifically, the Fire will need to New York to lose – preferably by a significant margin – to Philadelphia on Thursday night at Red Bull Arena.
The Fire will be eliminated if the Red Bulls pick up a result against the Union, who have already clinched their postseason berth.
Sam Stejskal covers the Chicago Fire for MLSsoccer.com. E-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org.