D.C. United tightens Eastern Conference race with win over Fire

D.C. United tightens Eastern Conference race with win over Fire

MLS- D.C. United

D.C. United tightens Eastern Conference race with win over Fire

DeRoPajoy (Getty Images)

WASHINGTON — D.C. United's response to all of the controversy and disappointment from Sunday's draw against Philadelphia was a thorough win over a fellow contender in the Eastern Conference.

Dwayne De Rosario scored the 99th goal of his career, and newcomers Lionard Pajoy and Long Tan got in the act as well, as D.C. topped the Chicago Fire 4-2, extending their home unbeaten streak to 12 games and snapping the Fire's three-game winning streak in front of 10,291 at RFK Stadium Wednesday night.

With the win, D.C. pulled within a point of the Fire and Houston Dynamo for third place in the East while gaining a four-point separation from sixth-place Montreal for the conference's final playoff berth. D.C. is also within six points of first-place Sporting Kansas City with two games in hand in an increasingly tight conference race.

D.C. opened the scoring in the 19th minute, when Chris Pontius hooked a wayward left-footed shot from the top of the area that Chicago goalkeeper Sean Johnson came out for but couldn't gather. De Rosario never stopped his run to touch it home into an empty net by the far post to come with one more goal of joining the 100-club.

D.C. maintained most of the possession for the remainder in the half, until the Fire pulled even in the 44th minute of a slick passing sequence. Daniel Paladini finished off a combination between himself, Sherjill MacDonald and Marco Pappa, continuing his run and not being picked up while Pappa sent a short one-touch pass his way into the area, where he beat Bill Hamid to level the score at 1-1.

Instead of taking that momentum to halftime, though, the Fire allowed D.C. to retake the lead a minute later. In his second game in less than a week after joining D.C. from the Union, Lionard Pajoy got on the end of an Andy Najar cross from the right, sneaking behind Jalil Anibaba to connect and give D.C. a 2-1 edge. Najar got the start at right back with United's options limited due to injury and suspension and got the better end of the matchup between himself and Fire winger Patrick Nyarko while looming as a dangerous threat going forward.

Brandon McDonald made it 3-1 in the 51st minute off a well-placed header from Chris Korb's cross, marking the first time this MLS season that the Fire conceded more than two goals in a single game. Chicago's nearly chipped away three minutes later, when Marco Pappa laced a shot off the right post.  

The Fire got their second goal against the run of play in the 75th minute, when Gonzalo Segares was left completely unmarked on a free kick from Pavel Pardo to pull within 3-2. Johnson made sure it stayed that way two minutes later, robbing De Rosario of what would have been his 100th-career goal with a kick save from close range.

Chris Rolfe nearly tied it up on a blast from distance in the 85th minute, but Bill Hamid made a sprawling save to his right to force it out for a corner kick, and Tan iced the match in the 89th minute, finishing off a squared ball from De Rosario inside the area for his first goal of the season.

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