WASHINGTON – D.C. United took the field on Saturday afternoon at RFK Stadium in search of their first victory in seven months. And for a while, it looked like they might just get it.
The Chicago Fire, however, had other plans.
Fire forward Quincy Amarikwa’s 82nd-minute equalizer denied United what would’ve been a precious victory, earning the Fire a 2-2 draw in front of 9,445 rain-soaked fans at RFK Stadium.
D.C. were dominant for long stretches of the first half, playing the type of attacking, free-flowing soccer that’s eluded them for over a year. Some 14 minutes in, United midfielder Nick DeLeon played fullback Sean Franklin through on the right flank. Franklin’s driven cross found Luis Silva eight yards out, but the midfielder failed to convert.
Silva found himself involved in another scoring chance two minutes later, serving a corner kick to a wide-open Perry Kitchen in the box, but Kitchen’s powerful header found its way into Johnson’s hands. Silva left several minutes later with an apparent ankle injury.
Chicago got their opener against the run of play. Midfielder Harrison Shipp struck a well-placed corner kick towards the far post into the path of Jhon Kennedy Hurtado, who was left unmarked by Franklin and D.C. left back Cristian and made no mistake with the chance, heading it home.
Undeterred, United soon found the equalizer. After Eddie Johnson was brought down just outside the box, DeLeon and Fabian Espindola relied on a bit of trickery on the ensuing free kick, with the former initially stepping up to hit it goalwards but instead rolling a deft touch back towards his teammate. Espindola’s low, pacey strike leveled the match.
Neither team looked particularly threatening early in the second half. The Fire's Amarikwa and Alex shared a pair of chances in the 67th minute, but United 'keeper Bill Hamid parried away Amarikwa’s strike and Alex’s found its way into a wall of defenders.
D.C.’s second arrived in the 73rd, once again on a restart. Bobby Boswell found himself on the end of an Espindola corner kick. Boswell’s header was cleared from the goal line, but found its way right back to him. His second attempt struck the near post, and the rebound fell directly into the path of Kitchen, who slammed it into the roof of the net from close range.
But Chicago equalized less than 10 minutes later. Second-half substitute Patrick Nyarko collected the ball on the right flank, nutmegged Cristian and centered into the path of an onrushing Amarikwa, who hammered it home and celebrated with a cheeky kiss of his biceps.
The loss stretches United’s winless streak to 15 games, their longest in club history. They’ll welcome New England to RFK on April 5. Chicago, having ground out their second draw in as many games, will welcome the Montreal Impact earlier that same day.
MLSsoccer.com Men of the Match
|Rank||Player||What We Saw|
|1||Quincy Amarikwa||A constant nuisance to DC's defense both on and off the ball; finished his best scoring chance with gusto.|
|2||Perry Kitchen||He's been United's best player this season and this time his yeoman's work in midfield was rewarded with a goal.|
With his intelligent decision-making and sterling set-piece delivery, you'd never know he was a rookie.