Fire Visit DC United Seeking First Victory

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Fire Visit DC United Seeking First Victory

Saturday, Apr. 17,2010
9:27 A.M.

By Tom Cooper
Special to CSNChicago.com

There's a lot of head scratching going on among MLS fans in Chicago and DC so far this season. Both clubs entered the season in retooling-mode but it might start looking like a rebuilding mode if things don't change soon. Through three matches, the Fire have only a point to show for their efforts while DC United are still looking for their first result. It might be too early, but this match between the bottom two sides on the Eastern Conference table could go a long way in deciding the direction of this season for both clubs.

Saturday's match could be decided on the wing. Patrick Nyarko made the Earthquake defenders shake (Ha! Get it?) running down the right last Saturday at Toyota Park. With DC United missing key players to injury as well as the suspension of defender Dejan Jakovic for his red card last week in Philadelphia, Nyarko could cause havoc on the side and help set up Brian McBride and Collins John in the box. Plus, DC United have the worst defense in the league so far this season (nine goals allowed in three games). This could be the opportunity the Fire need.

Meanwhile, it's tough to say there is something positive in a 3-2 loss against an expansion team, but DC might have found it in the second half. Head coach Curt Onalfo moved Santino Quaranta from the center of the midfield out to the wing and replaced him with United-original Jaime Moreno. (Yes, he's still playing!) The move worked as the red and black attack improved and netted two goals. though the league said later that Moreno's goal shouldn't have stood- Ah, details!

This match is the best chance for both sides to pick up a much-needed win. And if the Fire can finally pick up three points in front of DC's Barra Brava, it could spark them to finally get this season rolling.

Defensive mistakes, red card cost Fire in ugly loss at D.C.

Defensive mistakes, red card cost Fire in ugly loss at D.C.

RFK Stadium hosted one of the stranger games of the Chicago Fire’s season on Saturday.

It also may end up being a killer blow to the Fire’s playoff hopes.

The Fire lost 6-2 to the host D.C. United, falling nine points out of the playoffs with nine matches remaining.

Patrick Mullins had a hat trick and former Fire midfielder Patrick Nyarko played a role in three of D.C.’s goals. The six goals were the most the Fire have allowed this season.

Fire midfielder Khaly Thiam received a red card in the 34th minute in a match-changing moment. Thiam fouled Nyarko then argued with the ref and dropped the ball on Nyarko’s face while Nyarko was still on the ground.

Nyarko keyed the opening goal in the 25th minute with a backheel in the box to Marcelo, whose low cross was finished off by Mullins.

Michael de Leeuw answered for the Fire (5-12-8, 23 points) by tucking away a big rebound from goalkeeper Bill Hamid after Matt Polster hit a half-volley at Hamid. The relief was short-lived for the Fire because Thiam was sent off a few minutes later.

Nyarko set up Mullins for a goal in the 40th minute and then Luciano Acosta did the same for Mullins in first half added time to make it 3-1 D.C. (7-8-11, 32 points). Razvan Cocis got the Fire back within one on the final kick of the half with a long shot that took a big deflection, lofting the ball perfectly over Hamid and into the net.

However, Nyarko quickly restored D.C.’s two-goal lead out of halftime with a goal in the 51st minute. Mullins finished off his hat trick in the 76th minute and Nick DeLeon finished the scoring in the 89th.

David Accam, who was favoring and icing his left leg after Wednesday’s draw with LA, did not start the match. He subbed on at halftime. He and David Arshakyan, who made his Fire debut off the bench, will both leave for international duty and miss next weekend’s match against Philadelphia.

Fire look for another road win at D.C. United on CSN+

Fire look for another road win at D.C. United on CSN+

The Chicago Fire are back on the road and have a new face joining the team on the trip.

The Fire play at D.C. United on Saturday. The match will be televised on CSN+ at 6 p.m. with coverage beginning at 5:30 p.m. with Fire Pregame Live.

The new face joining the team is Armenian forward David Arshakyan. The Fire signed the 6-foot-4 Arshakyan from FK Trakai in the Lithuanian league on Aug. 3, but he didn’t get his visa and arrive in the country until Wednesday night. He was then shuttled to Toyota Park during the match against the LA Galaxy.

Arshakyan’s first training with the team was Thursday and he made the trip with the team to D.C. He could make his debut, but would likely have to do so off the bench. Arshakyan is also set to leave for international duty with the Armenian national team. He and David Accam of Ghana will leave for their national teams after the D.C. match.

Accam missed a chance to join Ghana in late March when he was injured and missed six MLS matches with that injury, but is excited to get another chance to represent his country.

“I’m really excited to be in the team again because I’ve worked really hard to come back into the team," Accam said. "We (Ghana) have a lot of good players and for me of course I’m doing something good here and that’s why the coach keeps calling me.”

Accam is actually battling an injury again. He is listed as questionable due to left quad injury. After Wednesday's match against LA, he was favoring his left leg a bit and had ice around his thigh. Accam said it was an issue he had before the game and he didn’t think it was a major injury. Arturo Alvarez is also listed as questionable (groin).

Beyond Arshakyan’s potential debut, Saturday is a big match in terms of keeping the Fire’s playoff hopes alive. D.C. United (6-8-11, 29 points) is currently in the sixth and final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference. The Fire (5-11-7, 23 points) are six points back. A road win, which would be the Fire’s second straight, would bring the Men in Red within three points of D.C. with a game in hand.

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The Fire are undefeated in eight straight MLS home matches (3-0-5) and won the previous road match. The additions and integrations of Michael de Leeuw and Luis Solignac have boosted what had been a struggling attack and fewer injuries have helped create needed stability in the lineup.

“We finally feel like a team that can win (against) anyone in this league,” Fire coach Veljko Paunovic said. “We always believe, we always said that, but finally you can see it. You can see it coming and you can see that this team is growing.”

D.C. features a pair of notable former Fire players in Patrick Nyarko, who scored when D.C. drew the Fire 1-1 in April, and Kennedy Igboananike, who made his first start for D.C. on Wednesday. Igboananike is yet to score for D.C. in four appearances since being traded from the Fire. Defender Kofi Opare will be suspended after earning a red card late in the match against Montreal on Aug. 24.

Chicago Fire at D.C. United

When: Saturday 6 p.m. (coverage begins at 5:30 p.m. with Fire Pregame Live)

TV: CSN+ (channel finder)

Where: RFK Stadium

Luis Solignac wins MLS Goal of the Week for opener in Montreal

Luis Solignac wins MLS Goal of the Week for opener in Montreal

Luis Solignac has made a big difference to the Chicago Fire’s attack since joining the team in early August.

On Friday, the Argentine forward added an award to show for his impact on the team. He won MLS Goal of the Week for his opening goal in the 3-0 win at Montreal on Aug. 20.

The curling goal from Solignac was his first in a Fire uniform. He also drew a penalty kick, which David Accam converted, in Wednesday’s 2-2 draw with the LA Galaxy.

In Solignac’s 312 minutes, nearly three and a half games, the Fire have scored seven goals. Not bad considering the Fire were averaging less than a goal per game before Solignac’s arrival.