Fire 1 DC United 0 - recap and ratings

The Fire took a big step toward playoff legitimacy by showing that they can indeed win away from Toyota Park. A 1-0 win over DC United moves them into second place in the Eastern Conference and more importantly, establishes some confidence away from home while helping to erase the memory of an ugly 1 win in almost 50 MLS matches over the last several seasons.

Chicago also continued to show that they are fully capable of beating struggling teams that they should beat. DC United is very much that. They currently sit at the bottom of the East and have now lost three consecutive home games. The Fire were the better team from the start and the score could have been more lopsided were it not for the play of DC goalkeeper Bill Hamid.

There shouldn’t be any doubt that the Fire will remain in the playoff hunt for the entire season but a more stern test lies ahead against one of the best teams in MLS on Thursday when FC Dallas visits Bridgeview.

Concern over squad rotation in this match didn’t materialize into a problem and it shouldn’t this week either. The Fire have 9 days off following the FC Dallas game on Thursday.

Player ratings

GK Matt Lampson (6) – Credited with two relatively easy saves but he had command of the box and grabbed just about everything in the air in his direction. Distribution was even good….an excellent outlet/release pass to Accam in the 43rd set up a good chance that eventually forced Hamid into one of his seven saves.

D Brandon Vincent (6.5) – Continues to quietly contribute in what has been a very good season for the second-year left back so far. Service didn’t result in a score in this game but Vincent does provide chances from his passes in almost every game.

D Joao Meira (6.5) – The Fire are playing good team defense and allowed only 2 shots on target in this match.

D Johan Kappelhof (6.5) – The Fire’s best defender on the day with 7 clearances and 6 recoveries. He and Meira, have gotten some help from the midfield but they are limiting clean looks from the opposition.

D Matt Polster (6.5) – In two games at right back this season, Polster has shown that he has probably solved the problem at right back. He has been able to combine getting forward at the right times with the athletic ability to get back and defend when he has to.

M Dax McCarty (7) – An impressive 6 key passes didn’t lead to any goals but that may be more due to Hamid keeping DC close than the Fire not capitalizing. The Fire will be difficult to break down as long as McCarty and Schweinsteiger continue to manhandle opposing midfields. Chicago held 58% of possession on the road, a feat that would have been unheard of in the last several seasons. McCarty is the key to that. Created his own chance 1v3 in the 90th before Hamid stopped him.

M Bastian Schweinsteiger (7) – That ridiculous dribbling display in the 91st that beat several defenders will get most of the play but Schweinsteiger and McCarty bossed midfield in this game. The Fire played a calm, patient game on the road and the pairing in the middle of the pitch deserves a lot of the credit for that.

M David Accam (6.5) – Stayed onside by a hair in the 52nd to get behind the DC defense, finish nicely, and put the Fire in position for all three points. Seems to have developed a very good combination with Nikolic.

M Michael de Leeuw (6) – Very active early and settled back into work mode as the Fire looked to grind out the result on the road. Work rate is always high.

M Luis Solignac (6) – Found Accam over the top of the defense in the 52nd for the only score. Didn’t have many chances offensively but everyone contributed to the win. Offside in the 23rd nullifying a score.

F Nemanja Nikolic (6) – Didn’t score in this match but he was present and lurking as always. Denied by Hamid in the 42nd, again in the 81st with a diving save. Had a good look in the 29th that was blocked nicely by Korb and had an even better look in the 91st as a result of Schweinsteiger’s footwork but that shot was high of the mark.

D Drew Conner (5.5) – Came on for Accam in the 78th as the Fire looked to close the game and preserve the 1-0 lead.

D Jonathan Campbell (6) – Replaced de Leeuw in the 85th. Blocked Jeffrey’s shot in the 86th.

F David Arshakyan (5.5) – Subbed in for Nikolic in stoppage time. Kept a ball from going over the touchline in the 95th to help wind down the game.


Filed under: 2017 Regular Season

Tags: Chicago Fire


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  • I haven't commented for a few weeks and most of my previous comments were rants against Harrington and Bava. My favorite moment in the game: watching Polster track a weak side runner from an inside, goal side position and effectively neutralizing the run while DC's offense stalled in the middle of the pitch 30 yards out with nowhere to distribute the ball. I actually yelled to no one in the room "did you see that marking run by Polster!"

    The simple hope for me the last three years is that I wanted to watch intelligent consistent soccer with a few moments of brilliance mixed in here and there. The last four games were a joy to watch where I could anticipate something good offensively and expect effective defending. I think I actually smiled while sitting at Toyota Park last Saturday, and yesterday I felt sorry for DC United fans because their team looked as hapless as every iteration of the Fire for the last three years. I'm almost struggling trying to figure out where to put this new soccer related emotion ... I think I heard others fans call it happiness.

  • 3 in a row and the first road win in forever, and nary a mention in the Chicago Tribune. I give a lot of credit to Jim Rose on 7, as he always treats the Fire with respect in his segments. But come on Trib, the Fire is off the mat and charging. Great story this year. Unselfish play leading to a lot more threats on goal.

  • MDL needs a goal in the worst way. He's played well this year, but has lost all confidence each time he gets a decent look on goal

  • In reply to Shinny:

    Why do you think he's lost confidence? He seems to be by working as hard as ever. His goals will come. I think MDL is playing a great two way game. I just think it's a matter of time.

  • In reply to Krasov:

    I agree, and I'm a big fan...he's played very well all except for when he's trying to put a shot on goal and then he seems to get flustered. He's flubbed at least one wide open chance in each of the last few games.

    One he gets one in the back of the net, I think the floodgates will open.

  • That s--- Schweinsteiger pulled at the end of the game, luck or is he that good on the ball. Thoughts?

  • In reply to go fire:

    Ummmm, its Bastien Schweinsteiger

  • In reply to go fire:

    Obviously the man is skilled, though I personally think he was aided to a degree by the fact that the defenders were likely expecting him to stall rather than attack.

  • In reply to go fire:

    Yeah, those moves we're epic - only wished Nico converted. For a second I thought the Washington Generals had a soccer team, too!
    All in all, very, very encouraged. The plan is working, apparently. The defense has tightened up significantly, which was to be Pauno's first objectives anyway.
    (Just an aside here, my Google keyboard just spelled 'PaunOs' by mistake - do I see a breakfast cereal deal on the horizon?!)

  • In reply to Heroic Oaf:

    I think that a contributing factor to a better Fire defense is the big improvement in ball possession and completed passes. The more the Fire have the ball, the fewer the opportunities for the opponent to score.

    And the Fire are not constantly pinned back in their own end after making clearing the ball away. Instead, they can play it out of the back with confidence.

    While I think that the Fire could do better at the GK position, Lampson might just be good enough because the play in front of him is so much better. In these last four matches, he has not had a lot to do.

  • In reply to StaryByk3:

    +1 on this although I do think they need an upgrade at GK if they want to contend for something other than just making the playoffs.

  • In reply to StaryByk3:

    Thanks for your great points!

  • In reply to StaryByk3:

    Benching harrison another factor in improved back line... just saying.

  • In reply to edubs:

    No doubt! Why Rodriguez gave him a 2-year contract makes no sense to me. A 1-year "prove it" deal would have been better.

    Replacing Harrington with Polster or Conner improves things significantly. But the Fire had some clean sheets with Harrington playing, so their improved possession game helped offset the defensive deficiencies.

  • I dont think he would have had that much time on the ball had it been within the first half, but still, skill is skill.

    This is getting interesting.

  • The Fire has consistently sucked since 2010-2016. 2012 and 2013 were the closest thing to mediocrity but I think it was less about the Fire having quality and more about the lack of, in the Eastern Conference. 6 years of utter despair can make you extremely pessimistic. I had friends who wanted to go to Fire games because they were curious about the Fire and I refused to go with them and discouraged them to go. I was embarrassed of the Fire and didn't want them to think that was soccer.

    Now the tides have changed, we are very good. In fact, if we had a Sean Johnson level GK and a coach that played the right guys and didn't bunker after a one goal lead, I'd say we are Supporters Shield material. Look at Guillermo ratings, everyone is contributing and has a good rating. This is the difference between a mediocre team and a good team. In 2012 and 2013 you'd have 2 maybe 3 guys with a 6 or higher rating. Now every starting player does! We have the most intelligent and accomplished midfielder and probably player in the league. Bastian has raised this team to the level they're on. He is the real difference. His leadership and IQ is the difference, the team has lacked this since Blanco. Another big factor is Nikolic, he wasn't himself against D.C. but I think he's the best forward since Hauptman bought the team. We have quality at every position except GK now that Polster has taken over right back. If the defense can continue to play well and the midfield can continue to dominate possession, we might be able to do something this year.

    It's getting easier with every game to accept the fact that the Fire are good.

  • In reply to john:

    I know how you feel. People who know I have tix etc. are now asking how to get them, and they are even asking "where is Toyota Park"? It's getting fun to be a fan again. Schweinsteiger is a truly special player.

  • In reply to john:

    Better players, bigger money, better results, better ratings.....funny how that works.

  • In reply to Guillermo Rivera:

    Right, you bring in good talent and the players around them improve.
    The rising tide that lifts all boats thing. It's nice to see. It's also nice that I don't have much to say, since the sailing is going rather well.

  • For all us nervous Nellies.... The just released MLS power rankings show the Fire at #5. Couldn't they have waited until after the DC Dallas match?!? Gah! The kiss of Death!

  • In reply to Arklow:

    Hopefully the team will take it as an incentive to hold serve (or better) and show that they BELONG!!

  • In reply to Heroic Oaf:

    I agree. That was my knee jerk response. Seems like every time over the last 7 years or so that they would look "better" and get ranked a little higher, you could count on them self-destructing the very next game.

    This Fire seems to get better on a pretty steady basis so I actually feel we could see them continue to play well and get ranked even higher. It's still a process though, and a few key injuries could change the scenario quickly. But baring injuries, I expect our side to continue to improve. PLEASE! Nobody pinch me! :)

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