The Fire aren't playing horribly. That being said they're not exactly playing well either. It's somewhere in between and probably good enough to earn draws, which is exactly what they've done over the last three matches. The New York game was an improvement over the outing in Portland where they were probably fortunate to get a point. This 2-2 stalemate against DC raises some legitimate concerns while highlighting some positives at the same time.
On the negative side, the Fire played much too passively in the first half against a DC United side that struggled mightily in the offensive third over their first two games of the season. The lack of push back and pressure allowed DC to control the pace and get forward without having to worry about defending a Fire attack that was all too comfortable waiting to counter or connect on a long ball over the top. The Fire did however score first even if DC did hold an advantage from the run of play. One disturbing fact is that despite not pushing the attack, the Fire allowed DC United five shots on goal during the first forty-five minutes. That's two more than they had as a team through the first 180 competitive minutes of the season against Columbus and Toronto FC.
Of further worry is the continued lack of success in appropriately defending set piece situations. Both of DC's scores came directly from dead ball situations. The Fire wall collapsed in allowing Fabian Espindola a clear look at goal after an obvious fake by Nick Deleon which tied the match only eight minutes after the Fire took the lead. A loose ball scrum after a corner kick once again resulted in a score when Perry Kitchen pounced on another failed clearance in the 73rd minute. After a fairly solid defensive effort against New York, this one was nothing in particular to be proud of considering the opposition.
On the bright side, Harry Shipp continues to impress with delivery from corner kicks and vision from the run of play. His set piece skill alone should be enough to keep him in the starting eleven when the squad is fully fit. Quincy Amarikwa once again showed why he's a better option than the club's designated player and Patrick Nyarko bounced back to show his value after two less than stellar performances to start the season. The Fire have shown that they can create some chances even with Mike Magee still looking to find his top form and that's a good sign.
Getting a point on the road is probably not a bad result but a full three points against a struggling club like DC is something that sure playoff teams manage to collect. Chicago will have a chance to show that there is some progress being made next weekend when they face the Philadelphia Union at home. Draws may be acceptable on the road but winning at home against your direct conference competitors is what the good teams do.
GK Sean Johnson (6) - Six saves with quality stops in the 16th and 19th minutes kept DC off the scoreboard for the time being. A huge denial against Deleon in stoppage time denied DC of a possible home win. Both DC goals from set piece scrambles had little to do with the goalkeeper.
D Greg Cochrane (5) - Played a fair game but not as effective as he was against New York. DC was able to collect numerous uncontested crosses into the box from the Fire's left side much too often. Was whistled for a foul just outside of the box against Eddie Johnson in the 34th minute which led to the free kick goal. The contact appeared to be slight at best.
D Bakary Soumare (6) - Probably the Fire's best overall defender on the day with double digit clearances (10) again.
D Jhon Kennedy Hurtado (5) - Scored the Fire's first goal on a header in the 37th. Also lost Kitchen on DC's second goal.
D Matt Watson (5) - Very active getting forward and trying to aid in the attack. Set up the Fire's first goal by earning a corner kick with a run into the penalty area. DC enjoyed far too much uncontested possession in the first half however.
M Jeff Larentowicz (5) - The Fire's opponent won the possession battle again (52-48). DC's midfield had been anemic up until this point and the Fire made it all too easy for them in this game with little pressure. Larentowicz is better with a central partner and he needs to step up a notch if the Fire defense is to improve.
M Alex (5) - Largely invisible for most of the match. Sat back too far and didn't get involved offensively which allowed DC to control the game in the first half. He's had a few moments but the Fire need more from this spot.
M Benji Joya (5) - Continues to look out of place on the outside with few touches on the ball throughout his 56 minutes on the pitch. Joya will be better utilized as a central midfielder when Nyarko and Duka are available.
M Harry Shipp (6) - Looks to be more comfortable as a wide player with each passing game although he'd never played there until three games ago. His dead ball skill, technical ability, and vision on the ball make him dangerous despite shortcomings defensively on the outside. Not only did he provide an assist from a corner kick for a second consecutive game but he provided several near miss passes that could have led to goals.
F Mike Magee (5) - Still seems a half step behind his 2013 form which is understandable considering his lack of training with the team during preseason and his injury to start this season. A badly taken free kick in the 76th from a dangerous position should ensure that Shipp presides over dead balls from here on out.
F QuincyAmarikwa (6) - He was largely absent for the first sixty minutes but Nyarko's insertion into the match got him involved and he produced when given the opportunity. Had an excellent "turn and shoot" in the 66th that forced Hamid into a difficult save. Finished his best chance in fine fashion to give the Fire a draw. He's clearly distinguished himself as a better option than Anangono.
M Patrick Nyarko (6) - His entry into the match in the 56th minute for Joya brought another dimension to the Fire attack. With Shipp and Joya on the outside the Fire are missing a wide player who can beat defenders off the dribble and provide a cross. Nyarko did exactly that with a textbook nutmeg of left back Cristian leading to Amarikwa's goal. After two awful outings, the Fire will need Nyarko on form for the offense to operate as it should.
F Juan Luis Anangono (5) - Entered the match for Alex in the 80th minute. Didn't do much to distinguish himself for those ten minutes.
F Chris Rolfe (5) - Subbed in for Amarikwa in the 89th. Only got one touch in as the game wound down.