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Emilio, United stay hot at home
Question of the Day
Luciano Emilio seems to have rediscovered his scoring touch. Last night, he added a new celebration for it.
The Brazilian forward had two goals, celebrating with a well-rehearsed tribute to bullfighters, and Rod Dyachenko scored his first goal as United took a 3-1 victory over a makeshift Chicago Fire club last night before 20,161 at RFK Stadium.
The win increased United’s unbeaten streak to seven games.
“I thought our guys stuck to the game plan,” United coach Tom Soehn said. “We closed the flanks and out-worked them. The things we could control, we did a pretty good job at and you’re seeing more consistency.”
Chicago was missing five key players because of injuries and national team duty, including top striker Chris Rolfe, who is out with an ankle injury.
United took advantage, taking the lead six minutes into the game by exploiting a major error from Fire goalie Matt Pickens.
United midfielder Fred played a cross from the left flank that appeared to be easily handled by Pickens, but the Fire keeper failed to hold on to the ball. It bounced to Dyachenko, who easily tapped the ball into the net from three yards out.
“It was an easy one, but I’ll take it,” Dyachenko said. “It doesn’t get any easier than that and I’m happy.”
It was the first score of the season for Dyachenko in his first start in place of Jaime Moreno, who is training with the Bolivian national team for the upcoming Copa America tournament. Before last night’s game, Dyachenko had played just two minutes in two games this season.
Dyachenko played in nine games last season for United but failed to earn even an assist. The native of Ukraine was taken by Toronto FC in the expansion draft, but returned to United for a draft pick after passport problems prevented him from crossing the Canadian border.
United’s second goal came after another error by Pickens. In the 25th minute, Christian Gomez played an excellent long pass over Chicago’s four-man defense to the onrushing Emilio. Pickens was way off his line, and Emilio easily lobbed the ball over the backtracking goalie.
Pickens redeemed himself to some extent, stopping a powerful shot by Dyachenko just before the interval. But the rest of the game was all United as the Fire struggled to smother their opponent’s passing — including a fine cross from Ben Olsen to Gomez, whose diving header sailed just wide.
Emilio found the net again in the 51st minute, simply knocking the ball in off his thigh from one yard out on a rebound of a shot by Gomez. It was Emilio’s third goal in two games after suffering a six-game goal drought. He now leads the team lead with five goals.
“Forwards — we make our living scoring goals and I’ve had a couple of opportunities lately and I’ve been able to put them in the net,” Emilio said.
Emilio celebrated those conversions with a pose he said mimicked bullfighters and the celebrations of two famous South American soccer players who, coincidentally, have ties to Chicago.
“I always looked at videos of matadors — the bullfighters — and I always wanted to do something similar to [Mexico’s] Cuauhtemoc Blanco [soon to join Chicago] and [Chile’s] Marcelo Salas [who is training with Chicago],” Emilio said.
Said Olsen: “I was surprised how long he held the pose. We were kicking off and he was still doing it.”
United’s defense, meanwhile, played well despite missing the suspended Bobby Boswell. In his third start, Devon McTavish — Boswell’s replacement — helped United hold Chicago to just two shots on goal.
The shutout was ruined soon after Emilio’s goal, though, when Fire substitute Jerson Monteiro beat United defender Facundo Erpen and fired a low shot that went past outstretched United goalie Troy Perkins.
With the win, United and Chicago are now tied all time at 12-12-7.
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