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D.C. United jumps into second in East after pummeling Fire

MLS: Chicago Fire at D.C. United
Photo by Geoff Burke/USA TODAY Sports

WASHINGTON — After an early fall lull, D.C. United appears to be in playoff form with a week to spare.

Chris Pontius, Bobby Boswell, Fabian Espindola and Alvaro Saborio all found the back of the net for D.C. United in a comfortable 4-0 victory over the Chicago Fire on Sunday afternoon in the nation’s capital. D.C. United dominated from the outset, but it needed three second-half goals to eliminate any chance of a late-game slipup.

D.C. United controlled the game from the opening, finding a lot of space down the wings. Despite sitting comfortably in Chicago’s half, D.C. United couldn’t find a way through the last line of the Fire defense until the 39th minute, when a soft back pass by Razvan Cocis released Pontius into a one-on-one with Fire keeper Jon Busch. Pontius dribbled around the Fire goalkeeper and put the ball into an open net from a tight angle.

Chicago was unlucky not to go into the half level after a free kick from Joevin Jones was parried behind by Hamid and the resulting corner kick was struck by Gilberto just wide of the post.

The second half began with D.C. United once again on the front foot. Had it not been for two saves by Busch from a curling attempt by Chris Rolfe and a Markus Halsti chance, D.C. United could have put the game away before the 50th minute.

In the 65th minute, Nick DeLeon was released into another one-on-one with Busch. However, this time, Busch was able to do just enough to deflect the ball behind for a corner. On the ensuing play, DeLeon delivered a cross that Boswell met at the near corner of the box. His perfectly struck header rose above the crowd and into the corner of Busch’s net.

Two minutes later, it was Espindola’s turn to score, when his low shot from the side of the box was deflected by Lovel Palmer into the goal.

Saborio added his name to the score sheet in the 80th minute, assuring D.C. United of all three points.

D.C. entered Sunday afternoon’s game in fifth place in the Eastern Conference standings, having secured a playoff spot after winning at NYCFC on Oct. 2. However, its game in hand over most of its conference foes meant that D.C. still had a chance at securing one of the two automatic berths into the Conference Semifinals. The Chicago Fire entered the game firmly rooted to the bottom of the MLS Standings, having been eliminated from playoff contention on Sept. 26.

The win sets up an all-important game at Columbus next week, where D.C. United and Crew SC will do battle in what will most likely be a game that decides which of those two teams will get a first-round bye directly into the Conference Semifinals.

The Fire, meanwhile, will close out their season at home against the New York Red Bulls. Both games are on Sunday, Oct. 25.


  1. Pontius is the X factor moving forward. If he can get back to scoring goals, DC will cause problems in the playoffs. Hamid made some sweet saves this weekend. HE is ready to be the USMNT starting goalkeeper now.

  2. Saborio has been very good at getting goals when the game is already put away this year, and missing completely when the game is on the line.


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