- The Washington Times - Sunday, July 23, 2006

BRIDGEVIEW, Ill. — Despite watching his team extend its unbeaten streak to 14 games last night, D.C. United coach Peter Nowak was disappointed.

Playing at Chicago’s new Toyota Park for the first time, United was outplayed in the first half and had to come back with a goal by Alecko Eskandarian in the 74th minute to settle for a tie.

“I wasn’t very happy with the way we played, especially in the first half,” Nowak said. “The transition wasn’t there. I’m glad we tied this game because Chicago made it very difficult for us. We’re lucky that we got the one point.”

United (13-1-6) had its six-game winning streak snapped, but still hasn’t lost since May 6 at Colorado.

“I’m not about the records, I’m always looking how my team performs and what kind of soccer they play,” Nowak said. “I wasn’t too happy to be honest. I know them pretty good. We have three years together and I know how they can perform and what kind of level of soccer they can play, so we’ll have a meeting and talk about it because this is not what we’re looking for in the next 12 games.”

Trailing 1-0, United tied the game 1-1 in the 74th minute on a nifty move by Eskandarian. Christian Gomez, camped out on the left side, sent a pass to Eskandarian on the right, who spun around, and, fighting off Fire defenders, powered a kick low into the left corner of the Chicago goal past goalie Zach Thornton, who dived but missed the ball with his outstretched hands.

Chicago (5-7-6) scored first in the 29th minute following a free kick by Diego Gutierrez. The ball took a slight bend to the right as United goalie Troy Perkins attempted to punch it out. Perkins missed connecting with the ball fully. The Fire’s Nate Jaqua found the ball on his right foot, and he jabbed it in for a 1-0 lead.

“I expect better of myself on a cross like that,” Perkins said. “It’s just a ball that kind of died in the air and I had to come forward to get it and the ball skimmed off my hands.”

The Fire had control early in the first half. Midfielder Thiago sent a ball wide left. Forward Andy Herron delivered a cross to Chris Rolfe, whose header was easily grabbed by Perkins, who also intercepted a corner kick by Thiago.

The Fire outshot United 6-3 in the first half, and had a 3-1 edge in shots on goal. United’s lone shot on goal was by Bryan Namoff, who put a direct shot from about 15 yards out on the right side, but into the waiting hands of Thornton.

United picked up momentum in the second half. Eskandarian nearly tied the game in the 66th minute, but Chicago’s Dasan Robinson booted the ball out before it crossed the goal line. A couple of more chances fell short before Eskandarian tied it.

“We had our backs against the wall,” Eskandarian said. “They came out and put us under a lot of pressure. They came out hard but with the firepower we have and the team that we have I knew that we’d get one back.

“For me personally I had a bunch of chances so I’m a little disappointed that I didn’t get more than one. We should have won but we’ll take the tie. Anytime you’re down a goal you’ve got to somehow get a spark and my job is to score goals. I was doing my best to pepper that goal a little bit. I could have swore that ball crossed the line. I kept my fingers crossed that the ball went in, but what can you do.”

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