DC United vs. Chicago Fire | MLS Match Preview

March 29, 2014 (WEEK 4, MLS Game #27)
4 p.m. ET (NBCSN)

Two clubs looking for their first victories of the season come together when D.C. United play host to the Chicago Fire on Saturday afternoon at RFK Memorial Stadium before an NBC Sports Network audience. United lost by shutout for a second consecutive match last weekend, falling 1-0 at Toronto FC. The Fire have taken points from their last two matches, reaching a 1-1 draw with the New York Red Bulls in their home opener a week ago.


REFEREE: Jair Marrufo. SAR (bench): Eric Boria; JAR (opposite): Adam Garner; 4th: Chris Penso
MLS Career: 158 games; FC/gm: 23.9; Y/gm: 3.0; R: 32; pens: 46

SUSPENDED: CHI: Lovel Palmer (through March 30)

ALL-TIME (46 meetings): United 17 wins, 63 goals … Fire 18 wins, 69 goals … Ties 11
AT RFK STADIUM (23 meetings): United 11 wins, 37 goals … Fire 8 wins, 32 goals … Ties 4
RETURN MATCHES: 9/20: Chicago Fire vs. D.C. United, 7:30 p.m. CT; 10/18: D.C. United vs. Chicago Fire, 7 p.m. ET

6/2: CHI 2, DC 0 (own goal 9; Magee 85)
7/20: CHI 4, DC 1 (Rolfe 2, 46+; Lindpere 11; Magee 56 – Silva 58)
10/4: DC 0, CHI 3 (Larentowicz 24; Soumare 26; Amarikwa 89)

  • The Fire won all three meetings between the teams a season ago, including a 3-0 win at RFK Stadium Oct. 4 in the only game there.
  • The Fire have won on three of their last four trips to the nation’s capital, over the last four seasons. United won 2-1 in 2012, their only home win over that time.
  • United last won at Toyota Park in 2009, a 1-0 victory on Aug. 29. The teams then played to three successive draws in Bridgeview, before the Fire won both encounters there a year ago.
  • Coaches record: Ben Olsen vs. CHI: P8 W1 L4 D3 … Frank Yallop vs. DC: P20 W10 L5 D5


D.C. United suffered their second shutout loss in as many matches to start the 2014 season, falling 1-0 to Toronto FC on Saturday afternoon at BMO Field. United are in a tie for ninth place in the Eastern Conference with no points from two games.


  • The game's lone goal came on the hour. Michael Bradley slipped a weighted pass through the center to Gilberto, whose shot was saved by United goalkeeper Bill Hamid. But the ball rebounded to the foot of Jermain Defoe, who slotted home into the unguarded goal.
  • Toronto FC goalkeeper Julio Cesar was called upon to make two saves for the match.
  • United head coach Ben Olsen made no changes to the team that suffered a 3-0 home loss to the Columbus Crew to start the season.
  • D.C. UNITED (4-3-1-2): Bill Hamid - Sean Franklin, Jeff Parke, Bobby Boswell, Cristian Fernandez (Conor Doyle 82) - Davy Arnaud (Kyle Porter 66), Perry Kitchen, Nick DeLeon - Luis Silva - Fabian Espindola, Eddie Johnson.


  • United saw their overall winless streak extended to 14 games in league play, dating back to the end of last season. It’s tied for the fifth-longest winless streak in league history, and now is a United club record, surpassing the 13 games without a win from March16-June 15, 2013.
  • “It’s a loss but I think when I look back I think we will see that we really took some steps forward. We didn’t struggle. There are the things we worked on in the past few weeks and we implemented a lot of that,” said United head coach Ben Olsen. “It was a day that things just didn’t fall our way in our offensive third and hopefully that will come. On their goal, we cleared the ball and it goes right to Defoe. I think we needed that little bit of luck today to get the result.”
  • For the third time in the last five seasons – and sixth time in the club’s history – United have lost their opening two matches to start the season.
  • “I think there were a lot of positives to take away, unfortunately we aren’t judged on our positives we are judged on results,” said defender Bobby Boswell. “We lost to another conference opponent but we can be proud of the way the guys played for the most part, I thought we were all over them for a while. I think once we score one they are going to come in bunches.”
  • United are one of two teams still without a goal this season, along with the New England Revolution, who have gone three matches without scoring. United have the fewest total attempts at goal and shots on target in MLS this season.
  • “Whether it’s the final ball or the final play, a lot of times when you lead teams that’s the last to come and the hardest part to do – putting the ball in the net,” said Olsen. “But that’s not an excuse; we got a find a way to do it. Other teams that are new and not yet gelling are doing it.”
  • With no lineup changes from the opening match loss to Columbus, Luis Silva again filled the playmaking role behind the front two of Fabian Espindola and Eddie Johnson.
  • “It’s going to take more than two games to get that chemistry right. [Espindola] likes to get on the ball ñ when he’s not touching the ball up top, he likes to drift wide and get on the ball and try and make the game there, said Eddie Johnson. “When he gets wide and drifts deep, it has to be me: I have to get on the same page and be dangerous, find those combinations with him to be effective.”
  • Said Silva: “We didn’t create enough room to have shots, but the field didn’t help that either. They did well to stay organized at the back and it was tough for us to break down.”


The Chicago Fire reached their second draw in as many matches in their home opener, playing to a 1-1 result with the New York Red Bulls on Sunday afternoon at Toyota Park. The Fire sit in a tie for sixth place in the Eastern Conference with two points from three games.


  • The Fire got off to a dream start, taking the lead after just six minutes. Midfielder Jeff Larentowicz rose highest to meet Harry Shipp’s corner from the right wing, thundering home a header into the top right corner of the net.
  • The Red Bulls struck for an equalizer in the 21st minute. Again it came from a penalty kick, Dax McCarty reacting quickest to slot home a loose ball from a crowded penalty area.
  • Fire head coach Frank Yallop made two changes to the team that reached a 1-1 draw with the Portland Timbers at Providence Park. Greg Cochrane and Mike Magee came into the team in place of Gonzalo Segares and the suspended Lovel Palmer.
  • CHICAGO FIRE (4-4-2): Sean Johnson - Matt Watson, Bakary Soumare, Jhon Kennedy Hurtado, Greg Cochrane - Harry Shipp (Juan Luis Anangono 66), Jeff Larentowicz, Alex, Benji Joya (Victor Pineda 71) - Quincy Amarikwa, Mike Magee.


  • The Fire were missing both fullbacks, with Gonzalo Segares sidelined with knee and ankle injuries and Lovel Palmer having been suspended through a ruling by the MLS Disciplinary Committee. Dilly Duka was also out with a hamstring strain, and Chris Rolfe with a bruised foot.
  • “Obviously disappointed to not come away with a win, but for the effort, I thought both teams played pretty well on a difficult surface today. What I did like about our guys was that we were probably closer to winning the match than to losing it, so that’s always good,” said Fire head coach Frank Yallop. “… I think that from our injury situation right now it’s a chance for a lot of guys to get some minutes and play and see how they get on, so I was pleased.”
  • Jeff Larentowicz has already netted two goals in three games for the Fire, hitting for the opener against New York. That matches his goal output from a season ago; his single-season career-high is seven goals, with Colorado in 2011.
  • “What I liked about the team was we did create some good chances in those sort of scrappy moments. I was pleased with that, and we had some good moments where I think on a decent surface we might have had a chance at scoring a goal,” Yallop said. “...There was some good play in the final third from both teams. I thought we had some good looks, but we didn’t finish them.”
  • Mike Magee, the 2013 MLS MVP, made his season debut, partnering Quincy Amarikwa in attack and playing the full 90 minutes.
  • “He’s a big part of what we’re trying to do, and a big part of the club,” Yallop said. “He soldiered on, he looked tired obviously in the end, but he soldiered on. And on the break maybe we could’ve used him to get that winning goal, but it wasn’t to be today. But I was pleased with Mike’s performance. Once he gets into his rhythm, he’ll be fine. … It’s good [for him] to get 90 minutes.”
  • Said Magee: “I’m playing a little deeper and maybe it’s going to take a couple of games to get used to it and get my legs used to it. He’s demanding a bit more defensive work of me, which is fine.”
  • Victor Pineda, the club’s first Homegrown Player, made his full professional debut, coming on as a 71st-minute substitute.
  • “I didn’t lose hope, but at times it got frustrating. I think that helped me to mature in a lot of ways,” Pineda said. “Mentally I’m a lot tougher now than I was, not just from when I first signed but from just a year ago or two years ago and I think that’s going to help me a lot in the future.”

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