BRIDGEVIEW, Ill. --- Considered a "must-win" game for both the Chicago Fire and DC United, it was the Fire who came away with all three points Sunday afternoon with a 2-0 victory at Toyota Park.
"Both teams were in a situation where we needed points," Fire head coach Frank Klopas said in his post-match press conference. "We came into it prepared really well even though we had a midweek game. I think we did a good job just making sure the guys were fresh and ready to go. We knew it was going to be a difficult match and it was."
The match couldn't have started any better for the Fire (3-7-2, 11 points) than it did in the 9th minute when Joel Lindpere's freekick bounced around DC's backline before finally looping into the goal off Nick DeLeon. The own goal gave the Fire their first halftime lead of the 2013 MLS season.
Recent acquisition Mike Magee -- who came to the Fire from LA Galaxy in exchange for Robbie Rogers' rights -- finished the game off in the 85th minute when he finished from about 12 yards out past Joe Willis.
"We got that goal early -- an own goal -- that was good, but in the first we weren't very good in our possession game, especially with the players we had out there," Klopas said. "I think the key was our initial pass in transition wasn't great. We chased the game a bit even though we had some good looks in the final third.
"Then in the second half we created chances again. It was great to get the second goal and get the victory. It was an important game for us."
DC United (1-10-2, 5 points) pressed hard for an equalizer before the interval. The team's best chance came through Dwayne De Rosario in the 38th minute. Afforded too much time by the Fire, De Rosario teed-up a shot from outside the box, clanging off the crossbar.
In the second half, however, Klopas said the team altered their tactics to deal with De Rosario.
"In the first half we had a little bit of problems when D-Ro was getting in-between the lines and finding the ball," he said. "We talked about it at halftime that one of the centerbacks had to get tight and deny his ability to get the ball in space and turn."
The Fire were afforded a few good looks in the second half to finish the game off, none better than Magee's 1v1 with Willis in the 83rd minute. Fed in behind the United backline by Maicon Santos, Magee's attempt was stopped by the out-charging Willis.
Magee would make amends two minutes later when he scored his second Fire goal in as many appearances with the club.
"It was huge (to get the second goal)," Magee said. "I think the biggest thing is, when you're not scoring, is to get chances. And obviously it was good to get two goals, but if we play a little better, we get four. Creating chances kind of gives you more confidence, so the second one definitely put them away."
Magee was full of praise for Patrick Nyarko, who was credited with the assist.
"It's hard to get used to speed," Magee said of the Fire winger. "I'm not fast, so I can't relate at all. Anytime I saw a step early, I knew he was going to get behind. As soon as I saw he'd get behind, I just took off. He laid me a great ball, and I'd have been dumb not to finish it."
The win for the Fire was their second cleansheet on the bounce, something the recently re-acquired Bakary Soumare said was important.
"Listen, I'm all about cleansheets," he said. "Anytime you get a cleansheet, you give your team a chance (to win) and we did tonight. We're going to try and get more and more and more. Hopefully we can keep it up."
For Soumare, his second home debut was nearly perfect.
"It feels great (to be back)," he said. "I love being here. This is home for me, so it's always great being a part of this organization. And to start at home with a win and cleansheet, you couldn't have scripted it any better."
Next up for the Fire is a home match with the Portland Timbers (5-1-7, 22 points) on June 8 at 7:30 p.m.
Hauptman takes questions
Fire owner Andrew Hauptman was at the match and fielded questions from reporters during halftime. Hauptman said it was "grueling not to be successful," but said the additions of Soumare and Magee have given the club a boost.
"I've heard it said that it ‘feels like a new season,' and it does," he said. "If you were to look and the schedule and do the math and points total correct, we can still end up in the playoffs."
Getting to the postseason will be challenging, however, given the club's current position. Hauptman said the club will be looking to make more moves when the transfer window opens up again in July, saying that he's "seen the list" of transfer targets.
"(Magee and Soumare) are just a start. We'll be looking to bring a few more in in July," he said.