Join us, won't you? Blanco, Moreno, Emilio - what more could you want from a playoff game? The pregame is even showing Blanco's Dancing with the Stars (Mexico version) moves. He's no Emmitt Smith, but he looks like a better dancer than "Pretty Boy" Floyd Mayweather.
Haunting the playoffs - David Beckham has already made two appearances in commercials: one for Chivas USA's playoffs, another for Adidas.
Hey, a Pando sighting! They showed his 2005 championship-winning goal, the only MLS goal he ever scored from the run of play.
Nice crowd in DC - the singer dragged out the national anthem - perhaps he knew that's the only way he'd get on the air.
Glen Davis and Eric Wynalda have that "who's kept in better ex-player shape" manly handsomeness thing going on.
Alan Hopkins covers the Jaime Moreno smack-talk before the match. "That's not soccer," Jaime complains about Chicago's style. Chicago doesn't care if it's figure skating, as long as they win.
Bobby Boswell is back on field for DC, instead of Devon McTavish. That defensive mistake versus Chris Rolfe didn't help his case.
1- Kickoff! DC with an early attack, but Pickens handles the rather weak shot easily. Calen Carr is starting for Chicago. His speed could cause DC problems. Wilman Conde is playing on the left, which I think is a mistake for Chicago. Conde is a great distributor of the ball, but he can't do that as well from the left.
4-Chicago now seems stuck on the left, trying to get play going through Wilman Conde. A counter starts for DC from there, but Conde breaks it up. I also don't think Conde defends as well on the left. He's just not as agile versus wingers. Luckily, Ben Olson isn't as fast or as tricky as he used to be.
6- Blanco with a shot after Rolfe fed him on the counter. Pretty close from a ways out. Skims over the top of the net.
7- FK for DC Gomez lining it up. He could be playing in Saudi Arabia next year, according to a rumor out of DC. FK goes wide.
9- The black-clad fans of DC make the Blanco/Club America supporters really stand out in their bright yellow jerseys. Chicago's Chad Barret actually nearly pulls off a dribble pass to himself in front of goal, but Brian Namoff breaks it up.
11- DC is putting pressure on, while Chicago is defending strong, even with some shaky clearances. Ooh, Fred and Chris Armas getting into it - "Why are you grabbing your face if the cleats hit your chest?" Armas is saying. Fred's babyface tries to look innocent. FK goes just wide - Pickens picked poor positioning there.
14 - Tommy Soehn looks worried. Blanco slips in a little pass to the box that has Troy Perkins racing to grab it before any Chicago player can.
15- Corner taken by Greg Vanney - leads to a Dasan Robinson clearance, then another corner that looks good, but drifts long at the far post, missing everybody.
17- Perkins is playing well, but his hair looks funny. He's got little-boy curls drooping on his forehead.
19- Is "recoverability" a word? It is to Glen Davis, who still remains one of my favorite game-callers. Oh look! It's a less-jolly-looking Tom Payne! Actually, it's his brother, Kevin, award-winning MLS exec. Kevin confesses he's given up cigarettes after his stroke. He's lucky he got a second chance on that decision. Quit or don't start while you can, kids.
21- DC corner. Fred takes. Clearance goes to Blanco, who goes down after a foul. DC fans boo, and Wynalda says he's faking.
22-FK leads to CK for Fire. The short corner nearly leads to a close-range Fire shot, but DC clears.
24- Simms is giving me flashbacks of the '70's with his 'fro do. Hopkins reports that Juan Carlos Osorio and Soehn exchanged angry words on the sidelines. Playoff fever, baby.
26- Dasan and Fred in a definite duel. Dasan wins free kick, Blanco takes, leads to foul on Rolfe, Blanco lining this one up. Blanco smacks it pretty well. It skips on the grass in front of Perkins, but Perkins hangs on to the ball.
29-Blanco hits lead pass to Rolfe, who gets to it just before Perkins, but Rolfe's chip is wide. DC goes the other way and Emilio launches a shot right into CJ Brown, who goes down.
31- GOAL! Omigod! The man who couldn't put it in the net a whole bunch of times for Chicago makes no mistake this time. Calen Carr sends in a sweet bending pass right to the top of the arc, where Barrett takes it down with his left and buries it with the same foot.
33-GOAL! Rolfe! So much for the accusation that Chicago was only going to be playing defense. Rolfe puts away goal number two for the Fire! Rolfe volleyed a free ball in front of the goal, using the element of surprise to score.
37- The jinx continues. The question now is - will the Fire outdo their famous 4-0 victory of 2005 versus DC in the playoffs? Will DC get a playoff goal versus the Fire?
38- DC nearly pulled one back, but the ball gets cleared off the line. Now DC has a free kick on the edge of the box.
39- FK cleared by Segares. DC is attacking wildly, Osorio is scribbling furiously on his paper pad. Chicago is defending hard. I love the playoffs. Shove the single table.
41- Rod Dyachenko coming into the game - Marc Burch out. First half sub - Soehn will not go gently into the offseason good night.
43- FK for DC. Scrap in front of the goal as Pickens punches out. DC gets called for offsides before they can get a shot off.
45- Bobby Boswell, Internet boy, is doing the yakety-yak hand signal to someone, but I'm not sure who it was intended for. Another DC freekick - Dasan keeps fouling. Fire get away with it, though, as Gomez lofts the free kick over the end line. The Fire seem to have gotten into DC's head.
Ha! Barrett pulls a backheel deep in DC territory. He's not Blanco, though, and the ball goes out of bounds before Blanco can get it. Blanco will probably forgive Chad that one, considering Chad scored the opening goal.
HALFTIME - The crowd at RFK seems stunned. Foudy is still saying that Chicago can't play too defensively. At least the people who were whining about the low amount of goals scored in the playoffs have hushed up about that for this game.
It's kind of neat to see that after all of Chicago's new acquisitions, the old guys are getting it done. I know they're really young, but Barrett, Rolfe and Carr are all Fire boys who have never played for another team.
You know it's the playoffs. . . when the Fire beat DC?
More description on Rolfe's goal - Carr header to Blanco, who headed it forward, where Rolfe picked it out of the air after Barret pulled defensive attention trying to reach the ball.
The shots from the BarraBrava look great. DC need a miracle to pull this off, but their supporters won't let them quit. Announcer Glen Davis is styling with the pink tie and the Mafia pinstripes. I'd go with one or the other - the combo is a little aggressive.
46- Wynalda giving DC fans props.
47- Blanco feeds Rolfe, and Rolfe, at an acute angle, hits side-netting.
49- DC ck, misses the target. Soehn - I've seen his expression before. He had it earlier this year, when DC got off to a bad start before righting the ship and winning the Supporter's Shield.
50- Oh Moreno! He gets a lead pass from Dyachenko, and he's into the box with the ball, but he doesn't shoot immediately and a tracking Brown gets to the ball to clear.
51- DC shot on goal! Olsen lays the ball off for Emilio in the box and Emilio shoots around him, but a diving Pickens saves.
53- Glen Davis states the truth that Moreno is not looking good tonight. A DC corner comes to nothing, but the Fire are so deep, they don't really get far on the counter.
55- Calen Carr goes down on the field, then Gonzalo Segares brings down Moreno with a foul that earns a yellow, though DC wanted a red. Nothing doing, but the free kick looks dangerous, and DC tries a tricky side play that nearly yields a chance.
58- Osorio isn't afraid of going against coaching conventional wisdom - he pulls scorer Chad Barrett for Bakary Soumare.
59-Flurry of activity near the Chicago goal for DC, but they're unable to get a shot off, even when Pickens' clearance doesn't go far. McTavish is on for Boswell, in a role-reversal of a defensive mistake leading to a benching. Boswell lost track of Barrett on the opening goal.
61- Rolfe passes the ball to Blanco, who holds the ball, just daring McTavish to try it. Sure enough, he tries to tackle, and gets Blanco on the leg hard for a yellow card.
63- Blanco goes down again and gets stepped on by Fred.
64- Carr on a breakaway, gets taken down by Perkins on the line of the box. Hey, that's prime FIFA continuation! But Marrufo doesn't call it, giving Perkins a yellow and the Fire a free kick instead. I can believe that Osorio is going nuts on the sideline. Blanco hits the wall on the free.
66- Nicholas Adderly in for Luciano Emilio - MLS' 20-goal man didn't have a good game. He's coming back from injury, though. It was probably too much to ask of him.
68- Blanco feeds Carr on a play that nearly pulls off another goal. Chicago isn't sitting back.
69- GOAL! DC works the ball around and then lays off a ball for Clyde Simms, who scorches it into the back of the net past a diving Perkins. Well, at least DC isn't going down toothless. The game has new life.
73- DC with all kinds of pressure on the Fire. Three DC players in the box, but none can put a shot on goal.
74- GOAL! DC pulls even in the match, still a goal behind on aggregate. A pass out to Christian Gomez catches him almost offsides, leaving the Chicago backline scrambling. Conde has not much chasing speed. Gomez tucks it into the corner - Pickens could have perhaps done better with the hand he did get on it.
77- These last 15 minutes are going to be crazy, but DC has definite momentum now. Carr on a counter, Perkins way out still slows him down a bit - why didn't Carr chip him? Where's John Thorrington when you need him? DC the other way has a corner. Cleared out.
79- Epic game - if any DC fan has a voice left after this game, they're lucky. Alan Hopkins references the most amazing MLS comeback of all - Earthquakes versus Galaxy, but it wasn't a couple of years ago, Alan. It was back in 2003.
80- Corner kick for DC. Another one. Wynalda references the non-PK call as the game-changer. Hindsight. Blanco with a nice individual play, but then he goes down pretty easily. He's furious that there's no call on the play.
82- DC the other way - Gomez with a sweet pass to cut the ball back in the box, but Adderly can't reach it. Close call for Chicago.
84-Olsen tries a long shot - nope.
86- DC pressing, but Dasan has a nice play for a short Fire possession.
87- Dyachenko feeds Olsen on the wing, who crosses it well into the middle, but Gomez is surrounded by Fire defenders, though he still nearly gets a head on it.
88- Osorio sets himself up to be second-guessed by Blanco fans for all eternity. He subs him out for Floyd Franks. Right after the sub, Olsen misses a shot high near the top of the arc.
90- I can only imagine tons of Mexican fans, "Quien es este Floyd Franks?"
Extra time- another corner for DC. It's taken short and gets in front of goal, but it cleared. The return service gets caught by Pickens.
NO GOAL! Gomez behind Dasan Robinson scores, but Marrufo calls a handball and the replays show one. Not blatant, but it was there. With his arm leaning against Dasan's back, Gomez touched the ball down, where it fell nicely for his shot.
DC corner, again. It's taken short and nearly leads to a shot, but the ball falls to Segares, who is forced to dribble out, because there are no Fire players outside the box for him to pass to. He does so quickly enough, until a Rod Dyachenko tackle from behind brings him down. Red card.
Despite the man disadvantage, DC still charges forward. The ball is in the box and Chicago can't quite clear, until Conde gets a head on it. The four minutes of extra time have exceeded five, but Marrufo finally blows the whistle.
DC loses, Chicago wins. The Supporters Shield losing streak continues - the Galaxy were the last team to pull it off, in 2002.
Fire players salute their fans. DC fans nearby throw beer towards them - or some liquid substance.
Rolfe, Man of the Match, mentions he has no New York or NE prefence, given that both teams play on turf. He wants to play at Toyota Park. That would be great, but it's not going to happen, because the Fire are the low seed.
So are the Fire the team of destiny now? They are certainly contenders.
ESPN tries to bring Fire fans back to earth by showing clips of last year's playoff loss to New England. Then they show New York's trouncing of Chicago earlier this season.
Great, solid playoff game. DC dug deep to make a game of it. Chicago hung on. Not sure if this match is going to crack Luis' top MLS games list, but it was a good one.