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D.C. UNITED v CHICAGO FIRE
RFK MEMORIAL STADIUM, Washington, D.C.
7:30 p.m. ET (no TV)
June 21, 2006 (WEEK 13) / MLS Game #73
D.C. United return home - where they haven't lost this season - hoping to get back on the winning track. They didn't lose in their two consecutive road matches, but late equalizers after the 88th minute in each game left draws perhaps feeling like defeats. The Chicago Fire are back on the road for an 11th game in 12 outings, riding a four-game winless streak where they've allowed three goals in each of their last three games.
REFEREE: Alex Prus. SAR (bench): Rob Fereday; JAR (opposite): Adam Wienckowski; 4th: Ben Jones
MLS Career: 100 games; FC/gm: 30.7; Y/gm: 3.5; R: 22; pens: 34
MLS 2006: 4 games; FC/gm: 33.8 (avg: 29.7); Y/gm: 3.5 (avg: 3.79); R: 1 (MLS: 9); pens: 0 (MLS: 17)
Games involving United: P16 W5 L10 T1; FC/gm: 32.3; Y/gm: 3.6; R: 1; pens: 6
Games involving Fire: P15 W8 L4 T3; FC/gm: 32.4; Y/gm: 4.1; R: 4; pens: 6
INJURY REPORT: D.C. UNITED - OUT: DF Brandon Prideaux (MCL sprain); QUESTIONABLE: MF Santino Quaranta (hamstring strain); DF David Stokes (quadriceps strain); FW Alecko Eskandarian (MCL sprain) ... CHICAGO FIRE - OUT: DF Jim Curtin (R foot fracture), MF Diego Gutierrez (R hamstring strain), DF Tony Sanneh (R hamstring strain), MF John Thorrington (R knee sprain); DOUBTFUL: FW Chad Barrett (groin strain); QUESTIONABLE: FW Chris Rolfe (concussion)
INTERNATIONAL ABSENCES: DC: Ben Olsen (2006 World Cup; USA)
HEAD-TO-HEADThis is the first of four meetings between the clubs, who have a pitched rivalry since the Fire's entrance into the league in 1998. They meet for the first time at Toyota Park on July 22, then meet twice over the final month of the season, on Sept. 17 in Bridgeview then in the season finale, Oct. 15 on East Capitol Street.
ALL-TIME (24 meetings): United 10 wins (0 shootout), 40 goals ... Fire 10 wins (0 shootout), 40 goals ... 4 draws
AT RFK STADIUM: (12 meetings): United 7 wins (0 shootout), 23 goals ... Fire 3 wins (0 shootout), 15 goals ... 2 draws
4/9: DC 1, CHI 1 (Petke 40 - Rolfe 50)
6/15: DC 4, CHI 3 (Moreno 44; Gomez 47, 73; Boswell 86 - Rolfe 30; Jaqua 38; Segares 62)
6/29: CHI 4, DC 3 (Jaqua 11; Marsch 40; Thiago 41; Guerrero 61 - Gomez 14; Kuffour 47; Moreno 65)
8/6: CHI 2, DC 3 (Reiter 83; Rolfe 88 - Carroll 41; Kovalenko 72; Moreno 78)
United won two of the four league meetings a year ago in a goal-filled season series, with the Fire taking one with one draw. The teams then met in the Eastern Conference quarterfinals where there were again goals aplenty - but only for the Fire, winning 4-0 on aggregate after a 4-0 second-leg win in the nation's capital, the heaviest playoff home defeat for United.
In the 24 all-time regular season meetings between the clubs, they've exactly halved everything. Each team has won 10 times with four draws, each scoring 40 goals.
But in three MLS Cup Playoffs series between the clubs, United have never defeated the Fire in five matches. They had lost the first three (including a 2-0 loss in the 1998 MLS Cup Final) before gaining a draw in the first leg of last year's quarterfinal series.
Coaches record: Peter Nowak vs. CHI: P9 W3 L4 D1 ... Dave Sarachan v DC: P12 W5 L5 D2
D.C. United extended their unbeaten streak to seven games, but still dropped two points late with another last-gasp equalizer on the road, playing to a 1-1 draw with the New England Revolution on Saturday evening at Gillette Stadium. United still hold the best record in MLS with 26 points from 13 matches, six points ahead of the Kansas City Wizards in the Eastern Conference and two ahead of West leader FC Dallas in the overall table.
LAST MATCHUnited hadn't lost since May 6, but saw a three-game winning streak put to an end in Los Angeles on an 88th-minute leveller. For the home-standing Revolution, their last win came May 13.
Jaime Moreno gave United the lead just before the halftime interval with a powerful strike. He took a simple square pass and let fly from nearly 25 yards, the ball flashing past Matt Reis for his eighth goal on the campaign.
But four minutes from the end, the Revolution pulled level through some good fortune. A free kick was served into the mixer where it bounced off a couple of legs, last United defender Bobby Boswell. With his back to goal, Andy Dorman hooked the ball home to give New England a third draw in four games.
United head coach Peter Nowak made one change to the team that drew with the Galaxy six days earlier. Alecko Eskandarian was suffered from a knee sprain, meaning Lucio Filomeno came in to partner Moreno in attack.
Here's Nowak's team (3-4-1-2): Troy Perkins - Facundo Erpen, Bobby Boswell, Bryan Namoff - Freddy Adu, Brian Carroll, Clyde Simms, Joshua Gros - Christian Gomez - Jaime Moreno, Lucio Filomeno (Jamil Walker 78). [Substitutes Not Used: Jeff Carroll, Devon McTavish, Domenic Mediate, Matt Nickell, Nick Rimando, John Wilson]
"We created a lot of chances. [Overall] I'm pleased, but I'm not happy with the chances we did not convert today," Nowak said.
TEAM NEWSFor the second weekend in a row, United failed to hold a late lead and ended up settling for a draw. In United five draws and one loss combined, they've scored first in four. "We were fighting hard and put in a lot of work so to come away with a tie is not terrible," said midfielder Brian Carroll. "But we had the chance to close out the game for the second time in a row."
However, unlike the Galaxy match, where United were on the back foot for much of the second half, Nowak was more pleased with his team's effort down the stretch.
"We had more chances than last game against L.A. The second half was much better than the first. It was a matter of time when we were going to score our second goal," he said.
But after the Revolution's comments following the Moreno goal that gave United the 1-0 victory in Washington two weeks earlier, it was Nowak's turn to decry the set-piece that gave New England the leveler.
"New England was complaining and whining about the call they didn't get against us the last game, and I think the complaining and the whining today pays off because they got the free kicks," Nowak said. "They couldn't beat us in any other soccer situation, and they got the free kick as a present, so Christmas comes early today."
With goalkeeper Nick Rimando now fully healthy, Nowak said earlier in the week he could get a start during United's busy stretch during these two weeks. But Perkins was outstanding in New England.
"Troy kept us in the game in the first half with some great saves. He was our MVP today," said Nowak.
Perkins has been an ever-present in the United first team since replacing the then-injured Rimando at the start of the season. "Knowing that Nick is fit means that Troy has great competition," he said. "Nick will get a chance with the stretch of games we have coming up."
The Chicago Fire returned to the road and saw their winless run extended to four games, a late Jose Burciaga Jr. goal giving the Kansas City Wizards a 3-2 victory on Saturday evening at Arrowhead Stadium. With the loss and the New York Red Bulls victory, the Fire fell into last place in the Eastern Conference with 11 points from 11 matches, two behind the fourth-place tie between New York and New England and now 15 points out of first place.
LAST MATCHThe Wizards hadn't scored more than one goal in a game since April 15, while the Fire were back on the road riding a three-game winless run, after seeing two late goals leave with a draw in the first game ever at their new stadium.
Andy Herron put the Fire into the lead after just four minutes, racing through the heart of the Kansas City defense to run onto a through ball and sending a low shot inside the far post past Bo Oshoniyi. But Scott Sealy scored the first of his two goals to pull the Wizards level in the 27th minute, running onto a Sasha Victorine through ball on the overlap and slotting home past Zach Thornton.
The Fire retook the lead just three minutes later, Ivan Guerrero whipping in a cross that Nate Jaqua headed home for his third goal in two games. But before the half was out, Sealy completed his double, Burciaga driving in a low cross that Sealy ran onto to neatly redirect home (39).
After the first-half fireworks, the second half was much quieter, until the Wizards won a corner in the 89th minute. The effort was blocked but fell back to Burciaga near the corner flag, and he drove a sharp effort at the near post where Thornton scrambled to get back, but deflected the ball over the line in his try to keep it out.
The Wizards did respond one more time and seemingly had put the ball into the goal, but it was ruled the ball entered the goal through a hole in the outside side netting.
Fire head coach Dave Sarachan made one change to the team that drew 3-3 with the New England Revolution in the first-ever game at Toyota Park. Dasan Robinson returned to central defense and Brian Plotkin went to the substitutes' bench as Sarachan again reconfigured his back four.
Here's Sarachan's team (4-4-2): Zach Thornton - Leonard Griffin (Justin Mapp 85), C.J. Brown, Dasan Robinson, Gonzalo Segares - Thiago, Chris Armas, Logan Pause, Ivan Guerrero - Nate Jaqua, Andy Herron (Calen Carr 86). [Substitutes Not Used: Floyd Franks, Jared Montz, Matt Pickens, Brian Plotkin, Jack Stewart]
"We know that if you give up more than two goals in a game, there is a chance that you are going to lose that game and both teams in the second half made a good effort not to allow many chances and we didn't and they didn't but they scored a goal in the end. ... We limited their chances in the second half, but it only takes one," Sarachan said.
TEAM NEWSIt was a third consecutive game where the Fire allowed three goals, as their winless run extended to four matches.
"There were a lot of moments in the game when we imposed the game on them. Possession was good; our energy level was high. We had two leads in the game, which is disappointing that we don't hold those," Sarachan said. "We are scoring goals, but at the same time the last two games we have given up three goals, and that is not going to get you very far, but we've just got to keep working."
Sarachan gave a second consecutive start to the strike partnership of Nate Jaqua and Andy Herron, and each responded with a goal.
"It's always important that guys can play together over time and each offers something a little bit different. They have both improved their fitness and they are through their injuries. As long as we keep them healthy, they are good forwards and I think that they are beginning to play with an understanding for one another," he said.
Jaqua continued his hot streak, now with three goals in his last two games, but for Herron, it was his first goal on the campaign in his third start. He was suspended for the Fire's opening six games.
"It doesn't feel the same when you score but your team loses. I want to win and when you score and you win, it is completely different. It's like nothing happened," Herron said. "It doesn't matter how hard you work, or how hard everyone else works or if Nate Jaqua scores or I score."