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United vs. Fire: United douse the Fire in critical Eastern Conference win

Dwayne De Rosario had a goal and an assist to help D.C. United to an important 4-2 win over the Chicago Fire tonight at RFK Stadium. The win for United (12-8-4  40pts) moves them within a point of Chicago (12-8-5) and idle Houston in the fight for playoff positioning in the Eastern Conference.

United’s captain gave the home side the lead in the 19th minute when his far post run met the wayward shot from Chris Pontius for the 1-0 lead. United continued the pressure and was well in control heading into the break when Chicago leveled the match seemingly out of nowhwere.

Dan Paladini was on the end of an impressive bout of interplay in United’s defense third and slotted the ball past United goalkeeper Bill Hamid to tie the match in the 44th minute. However, the Black-and-Red did not sulk over their perceived dominance in the match and immediatly responded.

Andy Najar’s mazy run down the right flank and hard work once near the penalty area bought him enough room to whip in a cross that sailed over everyone in the box and fell right onto the head of new United striker Lionard Pajoy. The Colombian powered his header near post giving Chicago goalkeeper Sean Johnson no chance and United headed to the break with a deserved 2-1 lead.

After the break United continued their dominance of the match and went up 3-1 in the 51st minute on a beautiful headed goal from defender Brandon McDonald. Chicago had cleared a United corner kick but only to Chris Korb who immediately lofted the ball into the far side of the penalty area. McDonald’s cushion header was looped perfectly over the right shoulder of Johnson and settled into the far side netting.

United continued to apply pressure and if not for some fantasic saves from Johnson, United would have blown this match wide open. As it happened though, the Fire got back into the match in the 75th minute when a United defensive breakdown on a free kick allowed the visitors to make it a tense final 15 minutes. Defender Gonzalo Segares was completely unmarked on the back side of a long angled free kick and his diving header beat Bill Hamid to the far post.

United had numerous opportunities to extend their lead but yet again Johnson came up huge on efforts from De Rosario, Pontius (twice) and Najar. However, United’s pressure finally did payoff in the 89th minute when Long Tan was the benefactor of hard work by De Rosario down the left flank. De Rosario forced his way deep into the penalty area and centered a ball for Tan and his admittedly tame shot should have been easily saved by Johnson but the spin on the ball eluded the goalkeeper and ended up in the side netting for the first goal for Tan with United.

United easily saw out the remainder of stoppage time and did very well to help soothe the bad feelings from this past Sunday’s 1-1 draw with the Philadelphia Union.

Up next for a very busy United is a trip to Canada to face the red-hot Montreal Impact. Montreal is currently on a four match winning streak including impressive home wins versus Red Bull New York and league leading San Jose just this past weekend.