Fire smoke United to take third place

The Chicago Fire continued the aggressive play that started in Wednesday's victory over the Western Conference-leading Kansas City Wizards by posting an identical 3-1 victory over Eastern Conference foe D.C. United Saturday night at Soldier Field.

The Fire offense was provided on headers by goalscorers Justin Mapp and Kelly Gray, and their cause was also assisted greatly by a D.C. own goal to open the scoring in the first half.

The Fire, having gone nearly two months with only one win to show for their efforts prior to Wednesday's success, have now picked up six points in only four days. The victory over D.C. propels Chicago to third place in the Eastern Conference with 29 pts, two ahead of fourth place D.C., and five ahead of the fifth place New England Revolution.

3 - 1
The Fire's first goal was the result of a solid run into the right side of the D.C. box by Mapp. He fired a sliding cross towards the middle, where it was deflected by D.C. defender/captain Ryan Nelsen into his own goal past a diving Troy Perkins, who had no chance on the play.

D.C.'s top threat of the first half came in the 38th minute when D.C. forward Jaime Moreno made a deft move from right to left inside the box, waited for Fire 'keeper Henry Ring to slide and commit, and continued past him, releasing a left-footed shot that dribbled just wide of right post.

D.C. came out for the second half intent on ratcheting up the offensive pressure, and drew even on a rebound goal in the 58th minute by forward Earnie Stewart. Fire 'keeper Ring made an outstanding diving save on a shot by midfielder Josh Gros, but the rebound went directly to Stewart, who redirected into the lower right-hand corner of the Fire goal past the outstretched arms of Ring.

In the 65th minute the Fire regained the lead on header by Mapp, on a beautiful leading cross into the middle from defender C.J. Brown, with a second assist going to Gray. D.C. 'keeper Perkins was apparently caught leaning the wrong way as the cross came in from the left and could not recover following Mapp's redirection.

Chicago put the game out of reach, taking a 3-1 lead, on a header from eight yards out by a streaking Gray, his first of the year. The assists went to midfielders Logan Pause and Scott Buete.

D.C. will have one week to regroup, as it now heads home to play the Dallas Burn on Saturday, Sept. 11 (4 p.m. ET, ESPN2). The Fire hope to continue their hot play against D.C. on Sept. 18 (7:30 p.m., FSW) at RFK Stadium. Man of the Match: Kelly Gray (Chicago Fire)

D.C. United (6-9-9) vs. Chicago Fire (7-10-8)
September 04, 2004 -- Soldier Field

Scoring Summary:
CHI -- own goal (Ryan Nelsen) 29
DC -- Earnie Stewart 3 (unassisted) 58
CHI -- Justin Mapp 3 (C.J. Brown 1, Kelly Gray 1) 65
CHI -- Kelly Gray 1 (Logan Pause 2, Scott Buete 1) 83

D.C. United -- Troy Perkins, Brandon Prideaux, Ryan Nelsen, Bryan Namoff, Joshua Gros, Earnie Stewart, Freddy Adu, Dema Kovalenko, Ben Olsen (Brian Carroll 71), Christian Gomez (Nana Kuffour 79), Jaime Moreno.

Substitutes Not Used: Mike Petke, Nick Rimando, David Stokes.

TOTAL SHOTS: 6 (Freddy Adu 2); SHOTS ON GOAL: 2 (Joshua Gros 1, Earnie Stewart 1); FOULS: 22 (Brandon Prideaux 5); OFFSIDES: 2 (Joshua Gros 1, Earnie Stewart 1); CORNER KICKS: 4 (Freddy Adu 2, Earnie Stewart 2); SAVES: 3 (Troy Perkins 3)

Chicago Fire -- Henry Ring, Kelly Gray, C.J. Brown, Jim Curtin, Denny Clanton, Scott Buete, Jesse Marsch, Logan Pause, Justin Mapp (Alexandre Boucicaut 87), Nate Jaqua, Sumed Ibrahim (Leonard Griffin 55).

Substitutes Not Used: Craig Capano, D.J. Countess, Orlando Perez, Matt Pickens.

TOTAL SHOTS: 8 (Kelly Gray 3); SHOTS ON GOAL: 5 (Kelly Gray 2); FOULS: 17 (Scott Buete 5); OFFSIDES: 2 (Nate Jaqua 1, Justin Mapp 1); CORNER KICKS: 1 (Justin Mapp 1); SAVES: 1 (Henry Ring 1)

Misconduct Summary:
DC -- Earnie Stewart (caution; Professional Foul) 15
DC -- Ben Olsen (caution; Professional Foul) 33
DC -- Freddy Adu (caution; Reckless Foul) 76
CHI -- Denny Clanton (caution; Deliberate Handball) 91+

Referee: Kevin Terry
Referee's Assistants: -Thomas Supple; Jorge De la Bandera
4th Official: Richard Heron
Time of Game: 1:51
Weather: Partly Cloudy-and-80-degrees

All Statistics contained in this boxscore are unofficial.