The final stats were heavily in favor of the home team but the Fire finished the night ahead in the only category that mattered. A 3-0 victory was nowhere near as lopsided as the final score would indicate as goalkeeper Sean Johnson provided the heroics. Johnson turned in one of the most impressive nights of his career with an eight save performance to deny DC United from taking an early lead and then later from getting back into the match after the Fire had jumped to a two goal advantage.
Their may have been some good fortune involved as Jared Jeffrey’s long distance blast hit the post squarely in the 25th minute but it seems the Fire may be in line for a good bounce or two after a disappointing month of September. The win keeps the club’s playoff hopes alive and temporarily pushed them back into the 5th spot in the Eastern Conference pending results of Saturday night’s contests.
One win against DC United isn’t reason to celebrate but it’s a good sign that the Fire were able to take care of business on the road against a team that they should be able to beat. Of course they have Johnson to thank for a big part of that.
GK Sean Johnson (8) – Officially credited with 8 saves, he almost single-handedly kept DC United off the board and kept the Fire’s playoff hopes alive. Big stops on Doyle in the 5th minute, against Silva in the 14th, DeLeon in the 29th, another spectacular denial thwarting DeLeon in the 59th, and yet again one more diving stop to keep DeLeon’s long blast in the 76th from finding the back of the net. Each one could be nominated for save of the week and he should be a player of the week shoe-in unless someone does something ridiculously spectacular offensively this weekend.
D Gonzalo Segares (5) – The entire back line seemed to be scrambling early and settled down a bit in the second half. Segares had all sorts of trouble with Nick DeLeon.
D Austin Berry (5) – DC found space in front of the net at will in the first thirty minutes. Things were somewhat better in the second with Berry still scrambling to cover gaps.
D Bakary Soumare (6) – A questionable first thirty minutes led to several DC chances in the first but he recovered to improve in the second. The goal, his first MLS career score takes this grade up one notch. Plenty of room to improve defensively however.
D Jalil Anibaba (5) – Most of the chances came from the middle and on the other side but neither of the Fire’s outside backs were particularly good at closing down DC attackers.
M Egidio Arevalo Rios (5) – Not bad at supporting in the attack and once again completed a high percentage of his passes but DC held possession for a whopping 67-33% advantage and completed 88% of their passes on top of that.
M Jeff Larentowicz (6) – In the same boat with Rios when it comes to closing down the middle of the pitch. The Fire’s central midfield didn’t do it and allowed DC way too much space in front of the back line. The gaps resulted in shot after shot at Sean Johnson. His goal was very well taken however and kicks up his score by one.
M Patrick Nyarko (6) – Probably the club’s best all around field player on the night with a high work rate on both ends of the pitch. A superb cross to Magee in the sixth minute put the forward on the doorstep and only a great save by Joe Willis kept the Fire off the board.
M Chris Rolfe (5) – Largely invisible for most of his 70 minutes on the pitch. Didn’t kill the club but didn’t help much either in a start at left midfield.
F Mike Magee (6) – Denied in the sixth by Willis but he was involved in the third goal working a short corner with Duka. A well struck free kick in the 85th was also saved by Willis. Came back to help late defensively to block Neal’s shot in stoppage time.
F Juan Luis Anangono (6) – It’s tough to be involved as a target forward when your club only has the ball 33% of the time but JLA made the most of his best chance by dancing through three DC defenders to find Larentowicz on the run setting up the Fire’s first goal. A cheeky back heel in the 38th also got Rios a good look.
M Alex (5) – Came into the match in the 61st minute for Nyarko and did manage two shots on goal although neither was particularly dangerous.
M Dilly Duka (6) – Entered the match for Rolfe in the 71st and was active getting forward. His cross to Amarikwa in the 89th was capper on a three goal win.
F Quincy Amarikwa (6) – Subbed in for Anangono in the 80th minute and once again made things happen as a late substitution. Scored the third goal and drew a yellow card on Kitchen.
The Brimstone Cup (and playoff hopes) is on the line with a visit to FC Dallas next Saturday.