WASHINGTON – Jostling for playoff position against the team directly ahead of them in the Eastern Conference standings, D.C. United earned an important 4-2 victory against the Chicago Fire Wednesday at RFK Stadium.
After D.C.’s forwards struggled to produce over the past two months, both Lionard Pajoy and Long Tan scored for United to deliver the team’s highest goal output since April 22.
Defender Brandon McDonald’s beautifully-placed header in the 51st minute proved the eventual game-winner and capped an all-around solid effort from a home side, while Chicago saw its three-match winning streak snapped on an overcast evening.
Pajoy’s 46th minute header answered Daniel Paladini’s game-tying strike two minutes prior as United (12-8-4, 40 points) pulled within one point of Chicago (12-8-5, 41) in the standings and won for the second time in six matches. The Fire, meanwhile, lost for the first time since July 18 and appeared sluggish for a majority of the contest.
McDonald’s strike came on a long-distance header at the tail end of an inswinging cross from Chris Korb – the two teammates who barked at one another near the end of Sunday’s 1-1 draw against Philadelphia.
Playing without the suspended Branko Boskvic and Emiliano Dudar, United never trailed, and remain undefeated this season when leading at the halftime break (7-0-0). Dejan Jakovic was particularly effective on his return to center back, containing Chicago’s strike force and distributing out of the back.
Chicago’s Gonzalo Segares added intrigue to the match’s final 15 minutes when he dove to convert a difficult set-piece header in the 75th minute, but Tan’s 89th-minute goal, his first for United, sealed the result.
Pajoy opened his United account thanks in large part to a marvelous effort from Andy Najar – deployed at right back on this occasion – who beat two challengers and crossed to D.C.’s newest acquisition.
D.C. captain Dwayne De Rosario scored his 99th career MLS goal in the 19th minute when Chris Pontius scuffed a left-footer that rolled past a static Fire defense to a streaking De Ro at the far post.
In the 44th minute, Chicago made good on its first real scoring chance of the game when Sherjill MacDonald, Marco Pappa and Paladini executed a flowing passing move at the top of the 18-yard box. Pappa fed Paladini to his left, and United goalkeeper Bill Hamid had little chance against Paladini’s first of the year.
Lineups and boxscore (MLSsoccer.com)
Opta Chalkboard (MLSsoccer.com)