D.C. United were able to end their three match losing run on Thursday night as they beat the Chicago Fire 1-0 at Audi Field.
The only goal of the game came early on, as a header from Edison Flores was enough for the hosts to secure all three points. The result gives them some confidence going into the weekend, while Chicago are forced to face the backlash of yet another defeat.
Story of the match
United almost made a dream start to the contest. Julian Gressel decided to go for goal with a free-kick from distance about a minute into the game, but the ball flew just wide of the target.
United wouldn’t be denied for much longer, though, as they opened the scoring in the 7th minute. Adrien Perez broke free down the wing, and his cross picked out Edison Flores, who headed home from close range with relative ease.
It was nearly 2-0 a bit later. A loose ball following a corner fell to Gressel, who unleashed a first-time shot towards goal. However, he could only watch as his effort slammed off of the crossbar and out of play.
D.C. had another huge chance soon after, as Perez managed to get past the backline before chipping the onrushing keeper with a delicate finish. The ball seemed destined to go in, but Wyatt Omsberg was somehow able to get back and clear it away.
The Fire finally started to get into proceedings, and they almost equalized against the run of play. The ball bounced kindly to Brian Gutiérrez in the area, and he went for an instinctive volley. He made good contact on the strike, but he hit it right at the goalkeeper, who was ultimately able to deny him.
Gutiérrez was involved once again moments later. Cutting in from the right wing, the 17-year-old dribbled into space on the edge of the area before going for goal. The attempt was a promising one, but it ended up bouncing off of the post and away from danger.
United thought they had finally grabbed a second when Perez slotted home with about 15 minutes to go, but the sideline official’s flag went up to correctly rule the goal out for offside.
The Fire then had an excellent opportunity to tie things up, as Boris Sekulić dinked in a lovely cross towards the back post. However, even though there were bodies there, the chance was wasted after Elliot Collier mistimed his jump and headed the ball over the bar.
Chicago would come inches away from grabbing an equalizer in stoppage time. Another cross found substitute Fabian Herbers in the area, but his header dinked off of the top of the crossbar before going out of play.
That would prove to be the last real chance of the match, as United held on to secure the clean sheet, the win, and all three points.
Time to panic
The Fire are in trouble.
This loss leaves them with just one point after five games, which is an especially poor return when you consider their schedule so far. It’s not like Chicago have been playing particularly well, either, as they’ve deserved every result this season.
Things aren’t going to get much easier, as the Fire hosts Inter Miami and CF Montréal in their next two matches before then going on the road to take on Columbus SC. All of those teams have shown promise this campaign, which is not something that can be said about Chicago.
Something needs to change, and it needs to change quickly. However, the club aren’t going to be able to bring in any new players anytime soon, and manager Raphaël Wicky will likely get a few more weeks to prove himself before getting fired.
The season is only five games old, but it seems like it’s already time for the Fire to hit the panic button once again.
Man of the match - Adrien Perez
A livewire on the night, Adrien Perez’s performance was a key reason why D.C. United won the contest.
He set up the only goal of the game, finding space on the wing before picking out Edison Flores in the area for a relatively simple header. Perez would have scored himself if not for some heroic defending, and he helped create some other chances as well.
The American just had an edge to him on the night, as he was ready, willing, and able to get involved time and time again. He did just that, and his impactful showing was enough to help his side pick up all three points.