All D.C. United had to do was defend for three minutes and their case for a playoff position would have been much stronger and given the struggling side a boost of confidence heading into their final two league matches. However, it was not to be as the Chicago Fire stunned everyone in attendance at RFK Stadium with two stoppage-time goals to defeat United 2-1 and put United’s postseason plans in serious peril.
Dwayne De Rosario scored on a penalty kick in the 90th minute (United’s only shot on goal the entire match) to give the Black-and-Red a precious 1-0 lead. But, as has been seen recently, the defense for United failed them once again by giving up the equalizer just one minute after taking the lead and then even more incredibly giving away the match in the dying seconds. With the loss United still has not been officially eliminated from the playoff chase. They will need to win both remaining games and will need New York to lose at home to Philadelphia next Thursday night to give themselves any chance to advance to the postseason.
The game itself was played at a high tempo but United didn’t really carve out any dangerous chances aside from a few possible handball calls that were not given. Chicago seemed the more likely to score as the match wore on but Bill Hamid was solid in goal making 6 saves during the course of the match. Second half substitute Santino Quaranta came on and energized United’s attack and was taken down in the box in the 88th minute to set up the possible game-winning penalty kick.
The play started with some quick thinking from Andy Najar as he played a quick free kick down the flank to overlapping defender Chris Korb. The rookie then centered the ball into the penalty area where Quaranta touched it around two Fire defenders but then was clipped on the ankle by Gonzalo Segares and De Ro stepped up and put the kick to the right of goalkeeper Sean Johnson and should have given United the three points.
Chicago did not quit however and equalized with the help of some poor spacing and defending by United. Daniel Woolard was in position to clear the danger out by Patrick Nyarko somehow managed to escape and sent a seeing eye ball through the United defense where it ultimately ended up on the deadly left-foot of Sebastian Grazzini and his curled effort through traffic gave Hamid no chance. You could feel the air go out of the stadium at that point as United once again had blown another late lead at home. And then it got even worse. With United in full retreat defensively, substitute Marc Burch failed to stay with the overlapping Segares and pulled up hoping to be bailed out by the assistant referee’s offside flag. The Costa Rican defender got to the end line and his sliding pass went under Hamid and right into the path of Diego Chaves who poked it into the empty net to give the visitors the most unlikely of wins in either clubs history.
United must now somehow turn their attention to a midweek match up with the Portland Timbers at RFK on Wednesday night. Anything other than a victory will doom United to their fourth consecutive year without a playoff berth, tying them with the 2001 San Jose Earthquakes as the only non-expansion teams to go four years in a row without a playoff appearance. Toronto FC is currently on a five-year string of non-playoff appearances but they were not an MLS original side.