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D.C. United rout the Chicago Fire with 3 second half goals in 4-0 win

Chris Pontius gave the Black-and-Red the first half lead, setting the stage for a second half scoring spree that sealed a commanding win over Chicago.

In their final home game of the regular season, D.C. United romped against the Chicago Fire, capping off a strong second half performance with a 4-0 win. Chris Pontius took advantage of a Chicago mistake in the first half, before second half goals from Bobby Boswell, Fabian Espindola, and Alvaro Saborio sealed United's 15th win of the season.

Two weeks after their dramatic late win to seal their playoff place, United were in control for most of the game against the Fire, who became the third team (all in the last three years) to go an entire MLS season without a win on the road. The victory for United put them in prime position to earn the second spot in the Eastern Conference, provided they can get a result against the Columbus Crew in the final game of the season.

United came out dominating possession in a fashion they hadn't all season. Chances from that possession were rare, but Nick DeLeon's cross was knocked down in the box in the 5th minute, only for Pontius to shoot well over the goal. Kofi Opare hit the bar from an Espindola corner a few minutes later, though referee Sorin Stoica ruined any chance of a follow-up by whistling a foul in the box.

Chicago started to get themselves into the game, and found a couple of opportunities to take sight at goal. Harrison Shipp went on a solo run through United's half in the 18th minute, but his left-footed shot from range was held by Bill Hamid.

Left back Joevin Jones created a moment of panic in United's box minutes later, as the Trinidadian made his way down the wing before finding Patrick Nyarko in the box with a cross. Nyarko's effort was blocked out at close range for a corner. United half-cleared that delivery, but Lovel Palmer's low shot from long range was nearly poked in by Gilberto sliding in alone at the back post.

Espindola's free kick in the 29th minute put Jon Busch into action, forcing the Fire's keeper to punch the ball out of danger. The ball fell nicely to DeLeon just outside the box, but the midfielder's volleyed effort was straight at the veteran goalkeeper. Rolfe then headed a cross from DeLeon over the goal, before Bobby Boswell copied the effort from an Espindola corner in the 35th minute.

After United had controlled the early proceedings, the Fire looked to finish out the half in command only for Pontius scored his third league goal of the season in the 39th minute. Rolfe tried to skip around a challenge in the Fire's half, but Razvan Cocis arrived to disrupt the former Fire attacker's move inside. Unfortunately for Cocis, his apparent attempt to pass backward ended up being a tempting through ball for United. Pontius reacted first, surging past Jones to enter the box before rounding Busch and slotting home for the 1-0 lead.

The Fire didn't go quietly to end the first half, with the Illinois side going close twice in stoppage time. Jones had an opportunity from a free kick from 30 yards out which forced Hamid into a save, and from the resulting corner, Gilberto's half volley was inches wide of the mark.

The Black-and-Red came out in the second half looking to put the game away, as Chicago struggled to deal with United's attacking prowess. A well-worked free kick routine from Espindola and Rolfe forced Busch into a save, and Markus Halsti followed that up with a volley that was blocked near the goal by Jeff Larentowicz.

United maintained that pressure throughout the second half, and DeLeon's effort in the 66th minute led to the flood gates opening. A darting run by DeLeon was picked out by Perry Kitchen, allowing DeLeon to make his way in on goal.  Busch made the save after coming off his line, resulting in a corner for United.

That corner turned into the second goal for United, as Boswell tallied his second goal of the season. Espindola's corner was towards the near post, and Boswell peeled off his run further from the goal, allowing the center back to lift a header towards the back post for the 2-0 advantage.

Espindola then got in on the scoring in the 71st minute, adding to United's lead with his 5th goal of the MLS campaign. Working his way out to the left, Espindola earned some space out wide, looking to cross in towards the middle. Palmer, who was closely marking Espindola, saw the Argentine's driven low cross attempt clip off of him, sending it past Busch, who was leaning away from his near post.

Alvaro Saborio - who scored the late, dramatic winner two weeks ago against New York City FC to put United into the playoffs - again scored after coming off the bench, this time capping off United's 4-0 win. Espindola had the ball on the left yet again, looking to cross it towards the far post to a wide open Sean Franklin. Franklin got onto the ball, but after cutting inside had his left-footed effort blocked. Saborio was perfectly placed to take advantage of the looping rebound, poking home over Busch for the final United goal on the day.

D.C. United, with 51 points from 33 games, finish out the season next weekend away to the Columbus Crew. With a win, United would ensure themselves a second place finish in the Eastern Conference.