WASHINGTON -- Sparked by some unlikely scoring sources, the Chicago Fire continued their late-season MLS playoff push by picking up three critical points in a 3-0 victory over struggling D.C. United on Friday night. With just their third road win of the season, the Fire (12-12-7) moved into the fifth and final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference at 43 points, one ahead of Philadelphia and two in front of Columbus and New England -- all of whom play Saturday. In the 24th minute, Chicago's Juan Luis Anangono weaved his way through traffic with a series of impressive moves before dropping off a short pass to Jeff Larentowicz, who chipped in an easy goal to give the Fire a 1-0 advantage. It was Larentowicz's first goal since April 20. Just two minutes later, the Fire were at it again. Mike Magee lasered a free kick into the box that deflected off United keeper Joe Willis and right onto the foot of Bakary Soumare, who deposited the first goal of his MLS career to give Chicago a 2-0 cushion. Quincy Amarikwa capped the scoring in the 89th minute, driving through the box to finish a picture-perfect cross from Dilly Duka and register his second goal of the year. Chicago goalie Sean Johnson played one of his better games of the season, making eight saves for his 10th victory and fifth shutout of the year. D.C. was coming off an emotional Open Cup championship victory over Real Salt Lake on Tuesday, but the United have been dreadful in MLS, and their woes continued against the Fire. Despite controlling possession for a large majority of the games, D.C. (3-22-6) could not find the net and missed several good opportunities. Jared Jeffrey hit the post in the 25th minute and Nick DeLeon just missed sneaking a shot through in the 75th minute as the United remained winless in their last nine games (0-7-2). NOTES: The Fire's victory broke a tie in the all-time regular-season series. Chicago is now 18-17-11 in 46 MLS games against D.C. ... United captain John Thorrington left the game in the 43rd minute after suffering a calf strain on a hard tackle by Anangono. Thorrington was on crutches after the injury. ... Magee was credited with two shots, increasing his MLS-leading total to 103.
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- Jeff Larentowicz