for this game

Barrett, Rolfe allow Fire to advance past United

Nov 2, 2007 - 3:31 AM By Rich Dubroff PA SportsTicker Contributing Writer

WASHINGTON (Ticker) - Chad Barrett and Chris Rolfe scored within two minutes in the first half to enable the Chicago Fire to a 2-2 tie with the D.C. United in the MLS Eastern Conference semifinals.

Even though the United scored two second-half goals to tie the game at 2-2, Chicago advanced to the MLS Eastern Conference Finals next Thursday against the winner of the New England Revolution-New York Red Bulls series because of a 3-2 aggregate lead in this two-game series.

The Fire beat D.C. United, 1-0, last Thursday in the first game of the series in Bridgeview, Illinois.

"We are very pleased, we are very happy," Fire coach Juan Carlos Osorio said. "We have put in a lot of hard work. We believe that we have all the attributes to go farther and into the finals."

It was the second straight season a fourth-seeded team eliminated a top seed in the playoffs. D.C. United had the best regular season record in the MLS.

Barrett took a pass from Calen Carr in the 31st minute and his shot from 12 yards soared over goalkeeper Troy Perkins' right shoulder. It was Barrett's first career playoff tally.

"Calen made a great through ball," Barrett said. "I got a good touch with my left foot, and it bounced nicely for me."

Two minutes later, Rolfe, who had the only goal in the Fire's win last week, squirmed through two United defenders and beat Perkins - again from 12 yards and over his right shoulder. Cuauhtemoc Blanco and Carr assisted on the goal.

"These games are always tough because the opposing team is always pushing the ball forward," Rolfe said.

D.C. United's Clyde Simms scored from 35 yards out in the 69th minute to avoid a seventh straight playoff shutout at the hands of Chicago. Christian Gomez beat Chicago goalkeeper Matt Pickens in the 74th minute to make it 2-2.

The United had a chance to send the contest into overtime but a goal by Gomez at 1:45 into stoppage time was disallowed when the official deemed Gomez had put his hand on the ball before kicking the ball into the net.

Rolfe admitted his heart sunk when he saw the ball go in the net.

"When it went in, I was like, 'Gosh, here we go.' Then I saw the ref run, and he started pointing," Rolfe said. "He looked like he was pointing down for a penalty kick. I thought that can't be. Then sure enough he called a hand ball. Finally something went our way."

"It was a situation where both guys were competing for the ball, and Christian fought through that and finished it off," D.C. United coach Tom Soehn said. "(The referee) only has a split-second to make his decision - and he decided what he did. There's nothing you can do. You're not going to be able to change that."

As the D.C. United scored their goals and kept up the offensive barrage, Barrett tried to concentrate on the game.

"I was looking on the sidelines, and people were saying how much time was left and I was saying, 'Shut up! Don't tell me the time,'" Barrett said.

Pickens, the MLS Player of the Month for October, stopped three of the five shots he faced for the Fire, who allowed two goals in a game for the first time since September 15.

Perkins made one save for D.C. United, who were eliminated for the playoffs at home for the third year in a row.

"The second half was a lot better for us," Perkins said. "The first (half) we just fell asleep."

The Fire's defender Gonzalo Segares received a yellow card for a foul in the game's 55th minute and D.C. United's Devon McTavish got one in the 61st minute. Two minutes later, it was Perkins' turn to pick up a yellow card. D.C. United's Rod Dyachenko received a red card just after Gomez's goal was taken away.

"Believe me, it's very disappointing. It's frustrating," Dyachenko said. "All the games this year - all the hard work goes to waste."

While D.C. United won't be playing again this season, their home pitch will be used again. The MLS Finals will be held at RFK Stadium on November 18.