Patrick Nyarko has made a number of big plays in Toyota Park over the years. He added another one Saturday, but did so for the visiting team.
Nyarko, who played eight seasons with the Chicago Fire, scored on a header following a corner kick in the 65th minute to deny the Fire three crucial points at home.
Jonathan Campbell's first professional goal had given the Fire the lead, but the match finished 1-1.
“It’s just kind of how soccer works," D.C. United coach Ben Olsen said. "You know he’s going to come back and get something.
"It seems that’s how this league goes."
The Fire (1-2-4, 7 points) needed to get some points before heading into a three-game road trip that will take place over the span of eight days. A draw at home isn't what the team needed heading into that road trip.
It's also the second consecutive match the Fire have held a lead at halftime at home and not been able to hold on.
"We have to make sure we close games," Fire midfielder Arturo Alvarez said. "That comes with us scoring the second goal. Us just being up one goal gives the other team the confidence to get back into the game."
Campbell's goal came following an Alvarez free kick in the 41st minute. Alvarez curled in a quality delivery that Campbell flicked into the goal with the outside of his foot. D.C. (2-3-4, 10 points) goalkeeper Travis Worra got a hand on it, but wasn't able to keep it out.
"All credit to Arturo for playing that ball in behind," Campbell said. "I just had to flick it on, but it was a great feeling.”
Nyarko's goal was the only serious threat for either team in the second half.
Entering the match, the Fire had to deal with a number of injuries leading up to the match. David Accam is still out with a knee injury. Rookie Alex Morrell, who was been used as a substitute the past two matches, was ruled out with a calf injury late in the week. On Friday John Goossens suffered a sprained LCL in training and is expected out 1-4 weeks. Matt Polster was a gameday scratch due to a calf injury of his own.
All those injuries led to the Fire having just 15 healthy field players to choose from. Accam made the sub list to fill out the lineup, but was likely never going to play.
With all that working against them the Fire weren't able to hold onto the win in wet and windy conditions. Nick LaBrocca made his first start with the Fire and was subbed out for Joey Calistri in the 53rd minute, who had his longest appearance of the season. Defender Joao Meira saw the field for the first time since March 19. He came on as a substitute in midfield, which shows how thin the Fire were. Collin Fernandez also came on as a sub for his first appearance of the season.
The Fire return to action Wednesday, May 11, in Vancouver.