A chance to create some space and push DC United further into fifth place went by the boards after the Fire's worst defensive performance of the season resulted in deserved 4-2 loss. DC pressured the Fire midfield and gave them little room to operate, effectively disabling the attack that has looked impressive over the last three matches. The Fire were not able to pressure United's patch work back line for much of the first half until a late goal leveled the score at 1-1. DC took advantage of careless marking throughout the match and found the go ahead goal almost immediately after the Fire tied it just before half time.
The defensive effort in the second half was just as bad as it was in the first 45 minutes although the Fire made it closer than it should have been when Gonzalo Segares' took advantage of some lax marking by the home side in the 75th minute to close the gap to 3-2.
Overall, this should be looked at as just one ugly loss on the road despite losing out on the opportunity to take a step up in class and create some distance in the Eastern Conference. One loss shouldn't negate what the team has accomplished over the last month and a half but the lack of concentration in this match will surely need to be addressed. They're still a legitimate playoff club, although a loss to Houston at home on September 2 may bring about some real concern. DC United is currently in fifth place but Columbus' win tonight and the appearance that Federico Higuain is a true impact player will make this one interesting finish.
GK Sean Johnson (5) - Hesitated and was caught in-between on Pontius' mishit strike which resulted in the first DC goal. Made a handful of big saves in the second half which kept the Fire within striking distance but the defense allowed way too many uncontested looks. Kicked a pass directly out of bounds for no apparent reason in the 27th.
D Jalil Anibaba (3) - In an awful collective team defensive effort, Anibaba may have had the worst night of the bunch. Sloppy marking late in the first half resulted in Pajoy's go ahead goal and a muffed clearance resulted in the first score. Passing was also sub-par offensively.
D Arne Friedrich (5) - Probably the best of the Fire defenders on the night, which isn't saying much.
D Austin Berry (4) - Seemed a step behind all night. A late reaction to Pontius' mishit in the 19th allowed DeRosario to get in behind the defense for an easy score. DeRosario got by him again the 89th to set up the final score of the game.
D Gonzalo Segares (5) - Scored a goal on an excellent finish in the 75th minute which takes this grade up to a 5. Andy Najar owned the right flank from the fullback position for the entire match.
M Pavel Pardo (5) - Set up Segares' goal with a well taken free kick, broke up an attack with an excellent tackle on Pajoy in the 23rd, lost the ball easily near the top of the box in the 43rd. Mixed bag for Pardo as DC completely controlled midfield for most of the match.
M Daniel Paladini (5) - The Fire's best sequence of the night came in the 45th minute when Paladini started an attack and finished it with a beautiful run to a scoring position and briefly tying the game at 1. The rest of the night was full of chasing and weakly taken shots.
M Marco Pappa (5) - Assisted on Paladini's goal but was relatively absent for the rest of the night as DC pressured Fire attackers into giving up the ball before they were able to push into the final third. A blast from long distance hit the post in the 54th. Came out in the 74th minute.
M Patrick Nyarko (5) - Lost a handful of 1v1 battles to Najar on both ends. Continues to take a beating and was never able to get the ball in truly dangerous positions. A credit to DC's game plan.
F Chris Rolfe (4) - United managed to take him out of the game by crowding his space and forcing him up higher to receive the ball, which seldom got to him in the first half. Lost his mark on McDonald in the 51st which resulted in an uncontested header and DC's third goal of the night. Best moment came in the 85th forcing Hamid into a save with a well struck shot on the run.
F Sherjill MacDonald (5) - Played decent hold up game when given the opportunity and helped set up Paladini's score. Well scouted by DC as he didn't have much going other than that.
M Alvaro Fernandez (5) - Came in for Anibaba in the 63rd but didn't have much of an impact.
F Dominic Oduro (5) - Entered the match for Pappa in the 75th. Drew the foul that led to Pardo's free kick in a dangerous area that eventually led to Segares' goal. Probably should have been in the match 10 minutes earlier.
M Alex (5) - Subbed in for Paladini in the 85th, which was again about 1o minutes too late. Earned a corner kick with a cross in the 86th.
C Frank Klopas (4) - Can be second guessed for not starting Fernandez and waiting too long on substitutions. Defending and passing were shockingly bad for most of the match but some of that credit should be handed to DC and Ben Olsen for changing up some of the things that they do in order to combat what the Fire have been successful at over the last few games. This loss may not be a big deal in the large scheme of things but the fashion in which the defeat was dealt is something that needs to be addressed over the next 10 days. Replacing Anibaba with Dan Gargan at right back should also be considered. Gargan has been dealing with a fracture in his left foot for most of the season but it's something he's been able to play through. He probably deserves another shot to regain his starting spot. "I think that we have to regroup now. We have a little break of ten days, which will let us get some of our players healthy and allow us to get ready for some big, exciting games coming up," said Klopas after the match.