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D.C. United stages last-gasp comeback in 2-2 draw at Chicago Fire

Kevin Paredes and Ola Kamara struck very late to give United a stunning draw

MLS: D.C. United at Chicago Fire Kamil Krzaczynski-USA TODAY Sports

D.C. United produced a stunning late comeback, striking twice after the 82nd minute to earn a 2-2 road draw against the Chicago Fire. After falling behind on a Gaston Giménez and an Andy Najar own goal, United came back from the dead late as Kevin Paredes and Ola Kamara (from the penalty spot) scored to give them a share of the points.

Despite a series of knocks picked up against the Union on the weekend leaving much of the roster questionable, Hernán Losada ended up only having to make three changes to his lineup. Nonetheless, all three were injury-enforced, with Steven Birnbaum, Russell Canouse, and Adrien Perez not in uniform for United. Frédéric Brillant, Moses Nyeman, and Ola Kamara stepped in, while Losada switched from last week’s 343 to a 352.

After some even early exchanges, United carved Chicago open in transition. Julian Gressel’s wonderful through ball sent Nigel Robertha in on goal, but the Dutch-born striker’s shot from 18 yards was barely tipped away by Bobby Shuttleworth. From the resulting corner, Shuttleworth made an even better save to rob Brillant, who was wide open after another good service from Gressel.

The Fire grew into the game after a rocky start, but Robertha had a shot trickle wide in the 25th minute as the Black-and-Red maintained some threat on the counter.

However, Chicago caught United taking a playoff in the 32nd minute, and made them pay with virtually their first effort on goal. The Black-and-Red uncharacteristically stood off as the Fire strung some possession together, and eventually Boris Sekulić crossed into the box from the right. The service was rather predictable, but United were a bit flat-footed, and Gaston Giménez attacked the ball, rising above the defense to power a header from 15 yards past Bill Hamid.

United worked their way into an eventual response in the 40th minute. Gressel was again involved, with Andy Najar feeding him down the right. Gressel’s low cutback was right on the money for Yamil Asad, but Asad couldn’t steer an open look past Shuttleworth, sending it just wide from about 16 yards.

Losada made two halftime substitutions, bringing Kevin Paredes and Yordy Reyna in for Asad and Joseph Mora, respectively. That made a quick difference: Najar’s penetrating ball from deep sent Ola Kamara to the endline in the 52nd minute, where the Norwegian cut the ball back. Reyna was there from eight yards, but his side-footed shot was right at Shuttleworth, and Junior Moreno’s long-range attempt from the rebound was barely glanced wide of an empty net by the Fire defense.

United were putting the Fire under pressure, but fell behind 2-0 due to some misfortune at the back. Przemysław Frankowski swung the ball out to the left for Miguel Navarro, who looked to feed a low cross in for Robert Berić. Najar intervened, but the ball clipped off his heel and skipped across the line for an own goal in the 61st minute.

United pushed to get on the board, but Hamid ended up making the game’s next notable save, denying Berić at full stretch in the 67th minute as the Slovenian shot on the turn.

Chicago effectively killed off a big chunk of the remaining minutes, with United unable to conjure up chances even as they often pushed Najar up as an additional attacking player. However, despite flooding their box with numbers, the Fire left some inexplicable gaps that United punished in the 82nd minute.

The Black-and-Red moved the ball out to the left, where Reyna had acres of space to get into the box. As the defense collapsed towards him, they left another big pocket, and Reyna simply rolled the ball over to Paredes, whose first-time shot clipped the post and settled into the back of the net.

Buoyed by the goal, United flooded the Chicago box with more numbers, and got level just five minutes later. Najar chased down a rebound inside the box, and Fire captain Jonathan Bornstein lunged in late, clearly taking down the United homegrown player. Referee Marcos DeOliveira pointed at the spot, and Kamara was ice cold from there, getting Shuttleworth to lean before firing past him to level the score with his team-leading sixth goal of the year.

That made for all the fireworks, as United shored things up by replacing Kamara with Felipe Martins to see the result out. The draw leaves United (5W-2D-7L, 17 points) in 9th place, where they started the night. United will now direct their focus towards Sunday, when they host the New York Red Bulls in the first installment of the 2021 Atlantic Cup. Kickoff is set for 8:00pm.

Box Score

MLS Regular Season - Game 14
Chicago Fire 2 (Giménez 32, Najar 61og)
D.C. United 2 (Paredes 82, Kamara 87pen)

Chicago (343): Bobby Shuttleworth; Wyatt Omsberg, Mauricio Pineda, Jonathan Bornstein (C); Boris Sekulić, Alvaro Medrán, Gaston Giménez (Fabian Herbers 74), Miguel Navarro; Przemysław Frankowski (Stanislav Ivanov 75), Robert Berić (Chinonso Offor 74), Ignacio Aliseda (Brian Gutiérrez 85)

DCU (352): Bill Hamid; Andy Najar, Frédéric Brillant, Tony Alfaro; Julian Gressel (Griffin Yow 71), Moses Nyeman (Drew Skundrich 71), Junior Moreno, Yamil Asad (Yordy Reyna 46), Joseph Mora (Kevin Paredes 46); Ola Kamara (Felipe Martins 90), Nigel Robertha

Chicago - Giménez 62, Medrán 65
DCU - Najar 52, Skundrich 84