DCU, Fire lock horns at Toyota Park

A pair of heated Eastern Conference rivals will clash on Saturday as the Chicago Fire host D.C. United at Toyota Park.

Saturday's tilt is crucial as both clubs need three points as they try to climb the Eastern Conference table and push for a playoff spot.

Chicago enters the match sitting in eighth place in the conference and coming off consecutive losses, the last a 3-1 setback to Vancouver Whitecaps FC last Sunday.

The Fire held their own against the surging Whitecaps on the road for the opening 45 minutes, but finally conceded an opening goal in the 66th minute as Camilo brought down a punt from goalkeeper Brad Knighton and turned defender Shaun Francis inside out in the area before firing past Fire goalkeeper Paolo Tornaghi.

Camilo claimed a second five minutes later. After Tornaghi stopped him one-on- one, Camilo gathered the rebound and cut back to fire home his league-leading 12th goal.

Whitecaps FC made it 3-0 in the in the 84th minute when rookie Kekuta Manneh got the better of Jalil Anibaba one-on-one and blasted underneath Tornaghi from the left side of the area.

Patrick Nyarko added a consolation goal for the Fire in the 94th minute, heading home a Joel Lindpere cross from the left side of the box, but it was too little, too late as the Whitecaps claimed all three points.

"It's important how you respond from situations like this. We have a tough stretch coming up right now, we have away games and we need to find a way to get results and points," said Fire head coach Frank Klopas. "It's a crucial month and a half with a lot of important games coming up so we need to get points or we're going to fall behind."

D.C. United, meanwhile, comes into Saturday's game sitting in 10th place in the East having been shut out in each of their last three league matches, most recently a scoreless draw with the Colorado Rapids on July 7.

United have scored two goals in their last eight games, both on penalty kicks. Their last goal from open play came May 19.

"Defensively, it was a game where we hung in. Beggars can't be choosers right now and we'll take the point," said United head coach Ben Olsen. "There are very few times in my playing career or coaching career where I've come here and gotten a result. It's not an easy place to play so we'll take a positive out of it.

"I wish we were a little more connected at times. It's been a long stretch for us. There's been a lot of games and some of the guys are on fumes. They had some good opportunities and we just hung in there," said Olsen. "We had definitely the best chance in the game with Carlos [Ruiz] and he didn't take his chance, but I thought he put in a good shift. The subs came in and helped out there in the end."

In 44 all-time meetings, United holds a 17-16-11 margin, but Chicago took the first match between the sides this season by a 2-0 count at Toyota Park on June 2.