CHICAGO -- For nearly 80 minutes, Saturday looked like a typical Chicago Fire match day with potential offensive chances sprouting up, but no goal to show for their work. But against winless D.C. United, the Fire eventually capitalized with goals from Marco Pappa and Brian McBride for a 2-0 victory at RFK Stadium.
McBride did not get the start as Fire head coach Carlos de los Cobos elected to go with a one-attacker set with Collins John up front. But McBride entered the match in the 75th minute for John, and McBride immediately had a part in each goal.
In the 80th, midfielder Patrick Nyarko found McBride in the box, and McBride had a perfect back heel pass to set things up for Marco Pappa. Pappa blasted a shot just under the crossbar for the 1-0 lead and his second goal of the season.
Then in the 89th minute he sealed the deal. Fire goalkeeper Andrew Dykstra sent a free kick deep to McBride, who battled with D.C. defender Carey Talley and redirected the ball with a header just inside the right post.
"It was a long straight ball, and I heard [D.C.] goalie [Troy Perkins] talking, so I knew where he was," McBride said. "I knew I was in the box so I wouldn't be able to flick it on to anyone. So I just tried to put it on goal. Luckily, it went right in. Nothing spectacular. I didn't pick out the corner, but I did know where the goalie was and I just made sure I didn't put it right at him."
It is difficult to imagine that McBride will come off the bench on a regular basis, but the veteran target forward certainly maximized his presence. He's one of the best at doing so when he has limited time to produce.
Having John as the lone attacker didn't pan out with a score, but his presence produced some early chances. Within the first 10 minutes, John had two quick scoring chances. He snuck his way past the D.C. defense and nearly chipped the ball over United goalkeeper Troy Perkins, who got a glove on the ball and sent it over the crossbar in the 9th minute. Then in the 10th, John was in good position on the far right post on Pappa's cross from the left. But John's header was wide right.
Nyarko continued to be the team's ultimate creator, as he has done all season. He regularly is fending off two or three defenders and seems to have a knack for setting the table up, particularly for John.
Justin Mapp got a rare start, and for the most part he moved well out there on both sides of the midfield. There was one stretch in the 28th and 29th minutes where he earned a corner, then had a cross attempt that appeared to be a handball in the box by D.C.'s Daniel Allsopp in the 29th. But the referee kept his whistle silent.
It was a much-needed win for Fire, who were active throughout Saturday's game and now finally have a victory to show for their efforts.