The Fire were the better team through the first forty-five minutes of this match after finishing the first half with one of their better starts to a game this season. Unfortunately, like the rest of the season, they found ways to negate the positive with just as much negative en route to equaling the all-time MLS record for draws in one season. Referee Fotis Bazakos may have gifted DC United a goal with a dubious penalty call in the 39th minute to get the visitors back into the match but it was the Fire's consistently bad set piece defending that cost them the full three points in this match.
DC's first goal followed a sequence in which Sean Johnson cleared away a Luis Silva free kick attempt only to have Bazakos whistle Bakary Soumare for an apparent elbow or push in the back or something that resulted in a penalty kick as the ball was cleared away. Another questionable call in the 54th set up Silva for a fantastic strike that leveled the score. The worst was yet to come when the entire back line sloppily attempted to defend a second ball from yet another free kick in the 68th. Set piece defending, particularly second ball clearance, has been a killer all season and this was no different.
Frank Yallop wasn't happy with the officiating after the match. "If you look at the first goal for them, I don't see the call, for one. The second goal is not a foul, the free kick is fantastic, take nothing away from the kick but those things change games. Yes, we can't hold onto a lead but I thought we played well tonight," said Yallop during his post game press conference.
Regardless of what the calls were, and Yallop has every right to be upset with them, the Fire have earned every one of the dropped points this season and continue to do more harm to themselves than referees and turf have done through 28 games.
GK Sean Johnson (5) - Two key saves and a total of three on the night but he did appear uncertain at times. Three goals allowed are tough but he did get a hand on Silva's spot kick and there was little he could do about the perfectly placed free kick.
D Gonzalo Segares (5) - Tried clearing Kitchen's advance toward goal which appeared to cross the line on DC's third goal. Boswell was officially credited with the score.
D Bakary Soumare (5) - Like the rest of the back line he was lost on the third goal and actually blocked Palmer's header attempt in the 67th from reaching Hamid. It's difficult to blame any one defender for the three goals however. The pk call appeared to be very weak.
D Jeff Larentowicz (5) - Converted the penalty kick in the 32nd. Stepped up well to start counters. DC didn't do much outside of the set pieces.
D Lovel Palmer (6) - Continues a good run of form as the Fire's most consistent defender on both sides of the pitch. Had a good look at goal in the 25th but his shot was handled easily by Hamid.
M Grant Ward (5) - Didn't have many chances in front of net but does continue to work relatively well in combinations.
M Razvan Cocis (6) - The Fire controlled much of this match and actually held the overall possession advantage for once (53-47) although passing in the second half was considerably less crisp than it was in the first. Cocis was active offensively as well in moving the ball forward. Created a good chance with a move on the endline in the 66th.
M Matt Watson (6) - The Fire's central combinations haven't always worked well this season but they did in this game. Watson's equalizer from distance in the 78th salvaged the point.
M Alex (5) - A volley in the 58th was well taken and resulted in a Fire corner kick.
F Harry Shipp (6) - His first start August 23 resulted in some flashes of the player we saw earlier in the season. Several through balls were well placed and a shot from a free kick in the 14th was very well struck, forcing Hamid into a difficult save. Found Amarikwa in the box leading to the first goal and an assist. Corner kick service wasn't as good as it had been earlier this season but he was active in a positive manner.
F Quincy Amarikwa (7) - Scored the Fire's first goal with a well placed left-footed shot that beat Hamid in the 16th. May have embellished a bit in the 31st leading to a penalty call on Kitchen but he can be credited with also creating the second score. Amarikwa was trouble for DC United throughout the match.
M Patrick Nyarko (5) - Came in to the match for Ward in the 63rd. Created a good chance in the 64th but his pass was errant. A cross in the 75th created a chance. Earned a corner kick in the 86th.
F Florent Sinama-Pongolle (5) - Subbed into the game for Alex in the 63rd. May have been fouled on a header attempt in the 75th but no foul was given. Free kick chance led to a tap attempt from Larentowicz in the 77th but another free kick in stoppage time wasn't even close.
F Robert Earnshaw (5) - Entered the match for Shipp in the 71st. A shot from a quick restart was denied by Hamid. Provided decent service on a free kick in the 90th.
The playoffs have been a distant dream for quite some time now but this one should end the speculation even though the team hasn't been mathematically eliminated yet. Realistic hopes have been gone for quite some time.
The Fire will continue to play out the season with a trip to Houston next Sunday.
The Village of Bridgeview re-sodded several areas of the pitch this week and the end product appeared to be somewhat of an improvement over the previous attempt at laying new sod. The turf at Toyota Park has been problematic all season and injured forward Mike Magee took to twitter to express his opinion on the condition of the field.
@ChicagoFire Trying to play soccer on our $h1+ field is like trying to play hockey with a football.
— Mike Magee (@magee9) September 21, 2014
Bakary Soumare responded to Magee's comment by retweeting it with the comment "Seriously".
Former Fire forward Chris Rolfe added this:
— Chris Rolfe (@ChrisRolfe17) September 21, 2014