The Fire did exactly what they needed to do against a last place team at home with the regular season nearing an end. The 3-0 win at Toyota Park may not be a sign that the high-flying Fire of May and June are back but the victory still provided some encouraging moments as Chicago tries to hold on to third place in the Eastern Conference.
The result was badly needed after a less than convincing home draw against the New York Red Bulls last weekend. The score line may be a little flattering considering that DC controlled the first 15 minutes of the game and the Fire only scored once from the run of play but the end result was significant because none of the other East playoff teams, outside of Toronto FC, were able to manage full points in their games this weekend.
The Fire were also able to create some chances although they only scored one goal from open play and Nemanja Nikolic was involved in the best of those chances, which is also a good sign. Nikolic scored his 18th goal of the season on a penalty kick late in the game but could have scored at least one other if not for a few big saves from DC's Bill Hamid.
The goal tied Ante Razov for the most in a single season by a Fire player.
GK Matt Lampson (6) – A couple of quality stops weren't incredibly difficult saves in the 52nd and 69th, but Lampson was well positioned for both. Four saves on the night and a goal-line clearance in the 53rd helped maintain the clean sheet.
D Brandon Vincent (6.5) – Scored the Fire's second goal on a well taken flying header, but also came close on a similar play in the 35th that Hamid did well to stop. Also cleared a scramble in front of the net in the 53rd after a near-miss from D.C.
D Johan Kappelhof (7) – A strong game from the Fire's center backs kept D.C. from challenging seriously outside of the first 15 minutes. Kappelhof's involvement with the attack also proved important when needed most. With the Fire still not creating much through midfield, his ability to hit teammates with long passes over the top resulted in a chance for Nikolic in the 17th that forced Hamid into another big stop.
D Jonathan Campbell (7) – His best game of the season may have come in his last start for a while as Joao Meira appears close to returning to the first 11. Campbell delivered an important, well-timed tackle in the 2nd minute to deny Deshorn Brown. Four recoveries and six clearances aren't big numbers, but Campbell was in the right spot seemingly the entire match.
D Matt Polster (5.5) – His throw-in was headed into the net by Harkes, but he wasn't as involved on the right side as he has been since his return to the line-up. He got caught up too high on a few occasions, which resulted in some danger from D.C.
M Dax McCarty (6) – The Fire gave up some possession in order to accomplish their game plan and that also involved some sitting with a 2-0 lead. McCarty was solid as usual, although there was a turnover or two in the middle.
M Drew Conner (5.5) – As D.C. was on their front foot in the early going, it was obvious the Fire needed some help for Conner and McCarty in the middle. Once that was given, Conner settled in and played a decent field game. Credited with a secondary assist on Vincent's goal after passing the ball to Alvarez.
M Arturo Alvarez (7) – Provided several quality crosses in the first half that resulted in near misses and chances. Found Vincent on a similar play to the goal in the 35th. Forced Hamid into a save in the 61st. Provided an important 70 minute shift before a tactical change and more defensive posture.
M Luis Solignac (6) – Helped on the defensive end in sort of the same manner that de Leeuw is accustomed to providing secondary coverage from attackers. Had a few looks earlier in the game before drawing a foul in the box late in the match and earning a penalty call.
M David Accam (6) – Active all game, although he didn't figure onto the score sheet. Set up Nikolic for a great chance in the 16th. Combination play with Alvarez resulted in another chance in the 61st.
Nemanja Nikolic (6.5) – Two quality chances in the first half could easily have been goals if not for Hamid. Contributed on defense by clearing a shot off the goal line in the 53rd. The shot had beaten Lampson and would have been an equalizer for D.C. Converted from the spot late for his 18th goal of the season.
D Joao Meira (6) – Came on for Alvarez in the 71st as the Fire looked to kill the last twenty minutes of the match. Tackle on Acosta in the 83rd prevented a chance.
F David Arshakyan (5) – Replaced Nikolic in stoppage time.