With another league match ahead on Saturday and Shaun Maloney away, Frank Yallop changed his line-up a bit coming off of the team's best overall performance against Montreal. Ben Olsen did the same on the opposite bench. Both teams featured a less than first choice squad but the Fire failed to capitalize on a penalty kick chance in the first half and completely fell apart in the second when Olsen inserted Fabian Espindola into his line-up.
An opportunity to beat a less than full strength DC United side has gone by the wayside and the Fire's string of road futility has increased to 15 games away without a win. The game started out well enough with the Fire conceding some possession (56-44) but enjoying the better of the chances in the first forty-five minutes. Former Fire goalkeeper Andrew Dykstra came up big in place of Bill Hamid, recording six saves including a 26th minute stop of Jeff Larentowicz's penalty kick attempt.
The Fire took a 1-0 lead into the second half but failed to compensate or adjust to the inclusion of Espindola. While Fire defenders ball watched and lost marks, DC capitalized and walked away with all three points to extend their home unbeaten run to 20 games. The Fire may be able to bounce back against an expansion Orlando City FC side at home on Saturday night but they have yet to show that they can win on the road. Furthermore, all four of the team's wins (Philadelphia, Toronto FC, New York City FC, and Montreal) have ended with the Fire enjoying a man advantage at Toyota Park.
“If you look at the way we played it was very good, and basically [after] half time it’s more of the same [of what we’ve seen this season]," said Yallop after the match. "I knew they were going to change the game with putting players on. Espindola comes on and makes a difference, but we seemed to stop playing. You’ve got to credit D.C. for the forceful play, but we’ve got to do better at defending and handling situations. I said they’re going to change it up and get at you so we better be ready for it and we’ve got to adjust our game and play quicker or whatever it is and when we get a chance to punish them on the break, best do it. It’s disappointing – we’re 1-0 up and lose 3-1 away from home. That’s never a good feeling.”
This loss in DC isn't as significant as the fact that another opportunity to take a step forward was wasted. While standing around watching Espindola and Jairo Arrieta finish them off, the Fire moved down into seventh place in the East by virtue of the Union's win over Columbus. The Fire have three games in hand on Philadelphia but that's little consolation when they've shown that they're till not capable of putting together consistent performances.
GK Jon Busch (5) - A good stop of DeLeon's shot in the 10th thwarted DC's best chance of the first half. Credited with five saves. Three goals allowed isn't good but there was little he could have done with any of them.
D Lovel Palmer (4.5) - Back into the line up at right back and didn't contribute much on either end. Deleon beat him twice for good opportunities. His deflection of a pass landed right on the foot of Arrieta for the second goal.
D Jeff Larentowicz (5) - A strong first half despite the weakly struck penalty kick that was denied by Dykstra. He was a step behind in the second half.
D Eric Gehrig (4) - Back in his more natural position of centerback with Adailton being given a rest. An abysmal second half featured a missed mark in space allowing Arrieta to score from a corner kick uncontested. He somehow managed to lose Arrieta after he slipped onto the turf in the 69th before scoring the go-ahead goal. Appeared to slow down to watch Espindola's cross roll by on the way to the third DC score.
D Joevin Jones (4.5) - Actively involved in the first half but struggled defensively in the second. Doyle stepped in front of him to score the third.
M Michael Stephens (5) - Not very involved other than two instances in combination in the second half which led to minor chances for Amarikwa.
M Matt Polster (5) - Solid first half but silent in the second other than a silly yellow card taken on Espindola with two other Fire players ahead of him.
M Matt Watson (4.5) - Complete disappearance in the second half.
M David Accam (5.5) - Scored the Fire's lone goal in the 28th minute to finish a well structured attack. Not as dangerous in the second as DC stayed in front of him.
F Harry Shipp (5.5) - Started in the "underneath" playmaking role and engineered the goal with a run up the left side. A couple of good passes in the second half led to chances but there wasn't enough of it.
F Quincy Amarikwa (5.5) - Set up Accam for the goal with a cross into the box after receiving the ball from Shipp. That well placed pass was the highlight although he did have a few other chances/shots.
M Razvan Cocis (5) - Entered the match in the 62nd for Stephens and the Fire did have a short bump upon his arrival but they allowed the second just 7 minutes later. In the vicinity as Arrieta had time to stumble, get up, and score.
F Kennedy Igboananike (5) - Subbed in for Watson in the 71st. After being named to MLS "team of the week" he found himself on the bench despite only seeing limited minutes this season. The final 20 minutes expired with few touches.
M Guly do Prado (5) - Came in for Accam in the 77th in a "white flag" move. Placed a header just over the net in the 90th minute.