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First-place D.C. United return home to fight Fire


If ever there were a team unhappy about moving into first place, it’s D.C. United. At least, unhappy in the way the club moved into first place.

Visiting D.C. (7-4-4, 25 points) got a penalty kick from Wayne Rooney in the 90th minute to earn a 1-1 tie with the short-handed New England Revolution on Saturday to break a tie with the Philadelphia Union to take the lead in MLS’ Eastern Conference.

The United try to extend that advantage Wednesday night when they play host to the Chicago Fire (4-5-5, 17 points).

“I’m going to put my optimistic hat on and say it’s a good point on the road,” D.C. coach Ben Olsen, whose team hasn’t won at New England since 2012, told reporters. “They are a dangerous team. It’s a hard place to play. The turf stinks. And historically it’s been hard to grab points here.”

D.C. United, returning home after an 0-1-2 road trip, won their past two home games.

New England goalkeeper Matt Turner received a red card in the 56th minute for running over Rooney just outside the penalty area. The Revolution scored five minutes later to take a 1-0 lead.

D.C. pulled even after video review revealed a handball in the penalty area.

Rooney was seen hobbling out of the locker room after the match.

“It was like being in a car crash,” said Rooney, who has a team-high eight goals.

What hurt the most?

“A bit of everything — chest, shoulder, a bit of (my) face,” Rooney said. “I’m sure he meant no harm in it. He just misjudged it.”

The Fire are coming off a 1-1 draw with New York City FC last Saturday, giving them at least one point in four of five matches.

CJ Sapong, starting in place of Nemanja Nikolic, scored his fifth goal of the season to tie Nikolic for the team lead.

Recently signed goalkeeper Kenneth Kronholm made his first start for the Fire, replacing David Ousted, and is scheduled to play again atD.C.

“To give you a short answer,” Fire coach Veljko Paunovic told the Chicago Sun-Times of the Ousted and Nikolic benchings, “it’s a tacticaldecision for both.”

D.C. leads the all-time series against the Fire 23-20-16, including 16-9-5 at home.

REUTERS/Field Level Media

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  1. July 25, 2019

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