WASHINGTON – In one of the most dramatic finishes of the MLS season, the Chicago Fire scored two-stoppage time goals to overturn a 90th minute Dwayne De Rosario penalty kick and stay alive in the playoff chase with a 2-1 win over D.C. United at RFK Stadium on Saturday night.
With the victory, the Fire (40 points) leap over D.C. United (38 points) in the playoff chase and find themselves just three points out of the final wild card spot occupied by the New York Red Bulls going into the final weekend of the season. United, losers of four straight, have two matches remaining and can also still overtake New York if they win out.
After De Rosario converted a late PK drawn by D.C. teammate Santino Quaranta, the Fire’s Sebastián Grazzini equalized on a spectacular volley in stoppage time. Moments later, Chicago’s Gonzalo Segares beat the offside trap and served in a cross from the left which found Diego Chaves at the back post for the game-winner.
For De Rosario, the penalty kick was his 15th goal of the season and allowed the Canadian international to take the top spot in the Golden Boot race.
Both sides needed a win to keep fading playoff hopes and it was evident with the energy and intent the two started out with at the beginning. D.C. came out on all cylinders, with Dwayne De Rosario heading wide of Sean Johnson’s goal just a minute into the game.
D.C. bossed possession for the first 15 minutes of the game, but couldn’t challenge Johnson. The Fire eventually settled in and look to strike on the counterattack. Marco Pappa had the best chance of the first half in the 24th minute, as a cross found him in space on the right side of the box. Pappa took a few touches and fired, but D.C. goalkeeper Bill Hamid punched it away.
That would be how most of the first half played out – with United controlling the ball, but the Fire getting all the shots on goal and United failing to get a single shot on target. United forward Josh Wolff was at the heart of a couple of bright moments for D.C. late in the first half, but couldn’t pick out teammates in front of Sean Johnson’s goal.
Neither side conceded an inch in the second half, and the Fire again came close to breaking the deadlock in the 64th minute. Fire right back Jalil Anibaba turned the corner on D.C. left back Daniel Woolard and his cross found Patrick Nyarko who rose at the far post and headed just wide of Hamid’s goal.
Substitute Orr Barouch almost put the Fire out in front in the 81st minute. A stray pass from Brandon McDonald was picked off by Nyarko, who fed Barouch into space. The striker created room in front of McDonald and just missed Hamid’s near post.
A minute later, D.C. had their best scoring chance moments later, but no one was at the far post to turn in Dwayne De Rosario’s low cross which crossed the entire face of the Fire goal.
United would finally break through when Segares was judged to have brought down Quaranta on the right side of the box. De Rosario, who missed a penalty kick in virtually the same situation against Chivas USA earlier this year, stepped up to convert only to see Chicago make a dramatic two-goal comeback to snatch the three points.
DC -- Dwayne De Rosario 15 (penalty kick) 90
CHI -- Sebastian Grazzini 5 (Gonzalo Segares 4) 92+
CHI -- Diego Chaves 5 (Gonzalo Segares 5, Orr Barouch 2) 94+
Chicago Fire -- Sean Johnson, Michael Videira (Yamith Cuesta 19), Josip Mikulic, Jalil Anibaba, Gonzalo Segares, Logan Pause, Sebastian Grazzini, Daniel Paladini (Diego Chaves 89), Marco Pappa, Patrick Nyarko, Dominic Oduro (Orr Barouch 73).
Substitutes Not Used: Corben Bone, Baggio Husidic, Pari Pantazopoulos, Jon Conway.
D.C. United -- Bill Hamid, Chris Korb, Brandon McDonald, Perry Kitchen, Daniel Woolard, Andy Najar, Stephen King (Marc Burch 75), Clyde Simms, Austin Da Luz (Santino Quaranta 57), Dwayne De Rosario, Josh Wolff (Charlie Davies 79).
Substitutes Not Used: Blake Brettschneider, Joseph Ngwenya, Ethan White, Joe Willis.
CHI -- Josip Mikulic (caution; Reckless Foul) 46
DC -- Andy Najar (caution; Reckless Foul) 76
CHI -- Orr Barouch (caution; Dissent) 78
Referee: Jorge Gonzalez
Referee's Assistants: Greg Barkey, Matthew Kreitzer
4th Official: Terry Vaughn
Time of Game: 1:52
Weather: Clear and 66 degrees