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.
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.