In MLS Cup ’98, the Chicago Fire did the unthinkable, knocking off the only champions Major League Soccer had known to that point, D.C. United 2-0 in a memorable final at The Rose Bowl.
Having ruined United’s bid for a third-straight title, the first meeting between the two sides at Soldier Field the following year did not disappoint, becoming an instant Fire classic.
Chicago Fire 3, D.C. United 2 – May 1, 1999 – Soldier Field
The Fire entered the match flying high with a 4-1 record, the only blemish being a shootout defeat to Dallas two weeks earlier.
Things got contentious from the start when Brian Kamler was sent off in the 18th minute for connecting on an elbow to the face of Fire forward Jerzy Podbrozny (right).
It would take the home side until the 45th minute to capitalize on the man advantage however when United goalkeeper Tom Presthus had trouble reading Podbrozny’s free kick from the left.
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Presthus caught the ball but fumbled it before it slowly rolled over the line. Just to make sure Diego Gutierrez was there to tap it in but the Polish striker was credited with the goal just before halftime.
The short-handed United side battled and brought the Fire down to 10 men when Lubos Kubik was whistled for a foul at the top of the area on Jamie Moreno, earning a second yellow card and giving United a penalty kick which the Bolivian international converted in the 65th minute.
With both sides playing with 10-men, United would take the lead two minutes later as A.J. Wood’s cross from the right eluded Fire defender Francis Okaroh and fell for Roy Lassiter who easily finished past Thornton in the 67th minute.
Just a minute later though, visiting Scottish referee Stuart Dougal would show his third red card of the match when Carey Talley’s late and reckless challenge from behind on Roman Kosecki earned the United defender his second yellow card of the night, forcing United down to nine men.
READ: Chicago Fire History
The Fire would equalize 10 minutes later. Podbrozny started the play just outside the area, chipping into the box for Josh Wolff who got a touch to the ball before United defender Jeff Agoos tried to play an errant pass back to Presthus. Agoos didn’t have a good read on the fact that Chris Armas was lurking behind and the future Fire captain toe-poked the ball past Presthus to bring things level at 2-2.
The Fire would complete the comeback in the 82nd minute as Armas collected a pass from Podbrozny at the top of the area before slotting Josh Wolff into the box on the left.
The second-year Fire forward made no mistake, right footing a low-effort past Presthus to give the Fire a 3-2 home victory and send United to their third straight defeat on the season.
CHICAGO FIRE - Zach Thornton; C.J. Brown, Lubos Kubik, Francis Okaroh; Jerzy Podbrozny, Chris Armas, Jesse Marsch, Diego Gutierrez (Frank Klopas 75'); Piotr Nowak (C), Roman Kosecki (Tom Soehn 82'), Ante Razov (Josh Wolff 34')
D.C. UNITED - Tom Presthus; Carey Talley, Diego Sonora, Jeff Agoos, Brian Kamler; Jason Moore, Geoff Aunger, Marco Etcheverry (C) (Brian Bates 26'), Jaime Moreno; Roy Lassiter, A.J. Wood
CHI - Jerzy Podbrozny (unassisted) 45'
D.C. - Jaime Moreno (penalty kick) 64'
D.C. - Roy Lassiter (A.J. Wood, Diego Sonora) 67'
CHI - Chris Armas (unassisted) 77'
CHI - Josh Wolff (Chris Armas, Jerzy Podbrozny) 82'
CHI - Diego Gutierrez (caution; Tackle from behind) 5'
D.C. - Carey Talley (caution; Reckless foul) 5'
D.C. - Brian Kamler (ejection; Violent conduct) 18'
CHI - Lubos Kubik (caution; Holding) 34'
D.C. - Jason Moore (caution; Tackle from behind) 59'
CHI - Lubos Kubik (ejection; Second Yellow Card) 65'
D.C. - Carey Talley (ejection; Second Yellow Card) 68'
CHI - C.J. Brown (caution; Tactical Foul) 70'
CHI - Roman Kosecki (caution; Diving) 80'
D.C. - Geoff Aunger (caution; Persistent Infringement) 82'
D.C. - A.J. Wood (caution; Tackle from behind) 87'
Referees: Stuard Dougal, Roger Itaya, Robert Fereday, Ricardo Salazar