On a perfectly clear night in Bradenton, Florida, D.C. United and the Chicago Fire took the field at IMG Academy for a preseason Eastern Conference showdown. With only four players from last years squad in the starting lineup, United started off strong with its group of newcomers which included Eddie Johnson, Fabian Espindola and Crisitan Fernandez. The Black-and-Red came out strong in the first half. In the 8th minute, Johnson found himself with one man to beat and tried to slip the ball to the surging Nick DeLeon in front of the net, but the last Chicago defender broke up the pass to end the threat.
Chicago countered with a few attacking chances of their own over the next 15 minutes, but nothing goalkeeper Bill Hamid couldn’t handle as he protected the clean sheet. In the 22nd minute, Espindola played a perfectly weighted ball through to a running Davy Arnaud, but he couldn’t put it on target with just the keeper to beat. The best chance for the Black-and-Red came in the 43rd minute with great passing from Johnson to DeLeon, who then beat his defender, and crossed it into the box. Johnson and Jared Jeffery were waiting for the service, but the ball went right over the jumping Johnson and the diving Jeffery couldn’t put it on target.
Neither team could open the scoring in the first half as it ended 0-0, and for DCU the second half saw an entirely different lineup as every starter called it a day. Chicago opened up the scoring in the 48th minute with a shot from inside the box to take the lead, 1-0. United showed life of its own after going down a goal, and put some passes together inside the box in the 67th minute, but the Chicago defense broke it up before Silva could get the final shot off. Both teams continued to attack, but Chicago once again found the net in the 80th minute with a shot from 10 yards out that beat a diving Dykstra to make it 2-0. Although the Black-and-Red created a few more chances in the final minutes, they couldn’t get on the scoreboard as D.C. United lost to the Fire, 2-0.
D,C. United returns to the IMG stadium field on Wednesday, February 12 to face the Fire again before returning to DC.