D.C. United travel to face a Chicago Fire team who have struggled so far this season, winning just once in their first six matches. The Fire’s 0-0 draw away to New York City FC was followed by a disappointing 2-1 loss at home to Montreal, in a match that saw Kennedy Igboananike’s stunning 29th-minute curler erased by two second-half goals from the visiting team. Chicago, who didn’t play last weekend, are hoping to pick up their first three points at home against the Black-and-Red.
United, meanwhile, were 3-0 against the Fire in 2015 and will head to the Windy City full of confidence, especially after earning a decisive 3-0 victory over the New England Revolution last Saturday. The Black-and-Red have now posted multi-goal shutout victories in two of their last three games; they dismantled the Vancouver Whitecaps 4-0 on April 9.
For Chicago, Igboananike has been the main offensive threat lately, leading the team with three goals and 12 shots this season. His influence will be especially crucial given that talented winger David Accam--who continues to rehab from a knee sprain—will likely miss Saturday’s game. Accam’s pace and creativity up the sideline have been sorely missed by Chicago’s attack, which has appeared toothless much of the time in recent weeks. The Fire have managed just 59 shots and 16 shots on goal in 2016, the fewest of any team in MLS.
Defensively, however, Chicago have been relatively solid. Goalkeeper Matt Lampson, acquired in February, has done well in place of sidelined mainstay Sean Johnson, recording a career-high eight saves against New York City FC—though Johnson appears close to a return after a spell out with a wrist injury.
For United, both new talent and league veterans continue to impress. Lamar Neagle opened Saturday’s scoring with a first-half penalty before second-half substitute Luciano Acosta dazzled with a spectacular 25-yard chip in the 85th minute for his first MLS goal. Fellow substitute and MLS veteran Álvaro Saborío—who provided the assist on Acosta’s Goal of the Week-nominated strike—finished off a late chance to seal the victory. The strong performances of both Acosta and Saborío indicate the depth of talent that United can rely on going forward.
Meanwhile, former Fire standouts Patrick Nyarko and Chris Rolfe return to face their former club. For Nyarko, this will be the first time returning to Toyota Park since his offseason move to D.C. The skillful winger spent eight seasons with Chicago, recording 20 goals and 39 assists in 196 regular-season appearances. Rolfe, who was with the Fire from 2005 to 2009 and again from 2012 until he was traded to United early in the 2014 season, likewise enjoyed a standout career in Chicago, notching 48 goals and 22 assists in 178 appearances.
Kickoff is set for 5:00 PM ET and the match will be broadcast live on WJLA (ABC 7).