FIRE AT D.C. UNITED
WHEN: 6 p.m. Saturday
WHERE: At RFK Stadium, Washington, D.C.
FIRE RECORD: 5-11-7 (though Tuesday)
D.C. UNITED RECORD: 6-10-8
LAST TIME: The teams tied 1-1 at Toyota Park when ex-Fire plyer Patrick Nyarko knotted the game in the 65th minute.
HEADLINE – Fire players no longer road worriers
By Jeff Vorva
The monkey – make that gorilla – is off the backs of Chicago Fire players.
After more than two years -- actually 771 days – 36 MLS matches and 39 matches overall, the Fire tasted victory on the road when it blanked Montreal 3-0 Saturday night at Stade Saputo in Montreal.
Razvan Cocis and winning goalie Sean Johnson were the only two members of the current team that played on the last Fire team that won a road game.
The Fire, which had a home game scheduled against the LA Galaxy Wednesday night, entered this week with the worst record in the MLS at 5-11-7 but that fifth win could provide a boost for a team which is hoping for a big finish and a microscopic shot at making the playoffs.
“Of course, it's very important for everyone to say that we finally broke the rock of winning on the road.” said first-year coach Veljko Paunovic. “We're very excited but now I'd like to dedicate this victory to our fans, who have been waiting passionately and patiently for this road win. From now on we have to take advantage of this win, it's a long way to go and we're very aware of where we are and what we have to do but this win feels very good and it's for sure going to help to improve our performances at the end of the season.
"If I tell you that the playoffs are more believable now, I would lie. Because you always believe. We knew it was a matter of time that it was going to break. And we worked hard, we were challenged so far and still I'm going to repeat, we haven't done anything. It's a very small step but it's very important .’’
Recently acquired Luis Solignac scored in the 15th minute, David Accam scored his team-high sixth goal in the 73rd minute and Matt Polster wrapped it up with a goal in the 89th minute.
"This was one of our best performances of the season,” Accam said. “We played according to our plan of what we were told. We started early wanting to put them on the back foot and pressure them.’’
Solignac was picked up in July and this was his second start.
"I'm happy because I came for that, to try and help the team and bring energy,’’ he said. “ I'm really happy I scored and helped the team to win."
The MLS will have two new teams – Atlanta and Minnesota -- in 2017.
The Fire doesn’t really have a close rival with the exception of Columbus and it appeared playing Minnesota a number of times would help develop a new rivalry but Minnesota has been placed in the Western Division while the fire is in the Eastern.
CAPTION – Photo by Jeff Vorva
David Accam said that Saturday’s win at Montreal was the best game the Fire played this season.
CHICAGO RED STARS AT SKY BLUE FC
WHEN: 6 p.m., Saturday
WHERE: Yurcak Field, Piscataway, N.J.
RED STARS RECORD: 7-4-4
SKY BLUE FC RECORD: 6-5-4
Medal-less Olympics ready to test mettle in the NWSL
Christen Press, Julie Johnston and Alyssa Naeher were not able to bring home medals as members of the United State Olympic team.
Now they turn their attention to a National Women’s Soccer League title with the Chicago Red Stars.
The Red Stars have not played since July 30 and are in fourth place in the league with a 7-4-4 mark. The top four teams make it to the playoffs.
The Red Stars face fifth-place Sky Blue on the road on Saturday night and have four games in September – including three at Toyota Park – to close out the regular season.
Coach Rory Dames is pumped up about a big finish to the regular season. He said his team is not satisfied with just making the playoffs – it wants to win the regular season title and pick up a No. 1 seed.
“We’re coming back fresh and we’re excited about finishing it off,” Dames said. “The last five games after the Olympics are going to be important. How some of the players come back from the Olympics will be important. In my opinion, Alyssa is the best goalie in the league and Christen is the best goal scorer in the league and Julie is one of the best defensive players in the league.
“We’re still a young team but several players have found their identities before the break.‘’