D.C. United had seen this story play out before at Audi Field: Luciano Acosta scores a late header, and United walk away with a thrilling 3-2 victory. It happened last August against Orlando City, and it almost happened once again on Wednesday night against the Chicago Fire.
Almost happened, because though Acosta's fourth goal of the season helped United take the lead after trailing 2-0 early on, there was still time for Francisco Calvo to head in an equalizer in stoppage time, splitting the points between the two clubs in a back-and-forth 3-3 draw. The Calvo goal denied United their first win in four games, as United has picked up just three points from their last four outings.
"It’s a disappointed locker room," head coach Ben Olsen said after the game during his press conference. "Anytime you put yourself in that scenario at home, you like to think we have enough to see that game out."
That United was even in that position was a surprise, after the Fire raced out to a two-goal lead within the first 14 minutes of the game. CJ Sapong headed in a free kick from Nico Gaitan, and Djordje Mihailovic's deflected effort compounded United's misery two minutes later.
And it almost got worse, but for a crucial save by Bill Hamid on Sapong.
But United got one back before the break, after Ulises Segura made up for an early miss. Segura then doubled his tally in the second half, before Acosta's 81st-minute header put United on course for the three points.
Only, they didn't pick up those three points, as Chicago pressed forward, creating several chances for an equalizer before Calvo's looping header over Hamid in the second minute of stoppage time.
"It shows you can’t switch off," Wayne Rooney said after the draw. "You need to be there until the end, One little slip-up, and obviously they get the goal."
Once United took the lead though, they didn't exactly batten down the hatches well. When the Black-and-Red were chasing the game, there were plenty of opportunities for the Fire. The visitors ended the game with 23 shots, 11 on target over the course of the 90 minutes.
Those same opportunities were there though late on, as United looked to pick up their fifth win at Audi Field in 2019. There was a bit of luck to go with Calvo's equalizer, but United understand that more could have been done to see out the victory.
"We weren’t able hold onto that [lead], and that’s because of little errors," said Segura through a translator in the locker room. "We shouldn’t be making those errors. So we have to correct those."
And they'll have little time to correct those mistakes, with United reaching the halfway point of the season on Saturday, when they host the San Jose Earthquakes. It's the last game on the MLS schedule for United until the end of June, and another opportunity for the Black-and-Red to turn around their recent run of form.
They'll just have to quickly move on from Wednesday night, after what felt like a loss after when a win seemed likely late on.
"It feels like a defeat when you concede late on," Rooney summed up.