D.C. United have Bill Hamid to thank for their second-place finish. The young goalkeeper made seven saves, including several big ones down the stretch to lead United to a 1-1 tie with the Chicago Fire on Saturday. The point was enough to put them ahead of the Fire and the Red Bulls.
Among Hamid's saves was one on Alex in the fourth minute of stoppage. Alex let a shot rip from about 35 yards out that Hamid was able to tip over the crossbar. He also made a couple close-range saves on Sherjill MacDonald.
The Fire mostly dominated the first half, but only had Nyarko's goal to show for it. That came in the 16th minute when Nyarko controlled a ball from Sherjill MacDonald at the top of the penalty area, made a spin around his defender and quickly fired a shot that gave Hamid no chance to stop the ball inside the far post.
MacDonald had a couple chances to get the Fire a second goal. Late in the first half, he made a diving stop of MacDonald's shot on a breakaway. In the 64th minute, he again foiled MacDonald from close range, this time stopping a shot from eight yards out.
United was able to tilt the field in the early part of the second half and found the equalizer in the 50th minute. Branko Boskovic sent in a low left-footed cross to Pajoy in front of the goal. Pajoy put the diving header past Johnson, despite the goalkeeper getting a hand on it.
The two teams had numerous chances to take the lead. Dominic Oduro twice got open looks in front of goal, but Hamid was able to save his shot in the 73rd minute. Oduro had an even better look a few minutes later, but he sent his shot from about 8 yards out high of the crossbar.
On the other end, Pajoy nearly put a ball in off his shoulder in the 70th minute. He had a wide open look in the 84th minute, but his chip went wide.
United will play the Red Bulls in the Eastern Conference semifinals, while the Fire will have to play the Dynamo in a one-game playoff in the middle of the week.