September 2, 2012
Fire rocket up conference standings with 3-1 win over Dynamo
BRIDGEVIEW, Ill.—On a day when neither team showed any particular talent for holding the ball, the Chicago Fire took advantage of the error-prone Houston Dynamo for a 3-1 win Sunday at Toyota Park.
|Patrick Nyarko scored in the first minute of the Fire’s 3-1 win over Houston on Sunday night.
Linda Cuttone/Sports Vue Images
The win moved the Fire (13-8-5) from sixth into third place in the tightly-packed MLS East, two points ahead of Houston (11-7-9, 42 pts).
Early goals by Patrick Nyarko and Dan Paladini gave the Fire enough of a cushion to hold off a late goal by Houston substitute Brian Ching. Brazilian midfielder Alex came off the bench to cap Chicago’s scoring in the third minute of stoppage time.
Seconds into the match, Nyarko pounced on Andre Hainault’s pass in the backfield, blew past defender Jermaine Taylor into the box and slotted a low shot past netminder Tally Hall to put the Fire up 1-0.
The Dynamo appeared to have equalized in the 13th, when Hainault served a ball into the goalmouth from the top right corner of the penalty area. Fire goalkeeper Sean Johnson blocked the ball with his hand, but Macoumba Kandji muscled his way through a crowd of defenders to chest the ball into the net from close range. His celebration was cut short, however, when referee David Gantar ruled that he had played the ball with his arm.
Six minutes later, Paladini padded the Fire lead when Sherjill MacDonald found him wide open seven yards from goal. Once again, the play started with a Houston error, when Alvaro Fernandez forced a turnover near midfield and fed the ball to MacDonald down the right side.
Although he was credited with only one save, Johnson’s heads-up play frustrated the Dynamo throughout the opening half. Twice he scooped up dangerous balls just ahead of forward Will Bruin, and around the half-hour mark broke up a dangerous give and go that sprung DP Boniek Garcia into the box.
Not surprisingly, the Fire defense had to absorb more pressure after the intermission, but rose to the challenge. Johnson saved a 25-yard shot by Dynamo captain Brad Davis in the 50th minute, and saw Je-Vaughn Watson’s shot land on the roof of the net a minute later.
Despite Houston’s increased intensity, however, the Fire remained more effective at working the ball into the box, although their finishing left something to be desired. Chris Rolfe was unable to outjump his defender to get off a point-blank header. In the 62nd minute, Rolfe served the ball in from deep on the left side for Nyarko, whose header from off the far post missed high.
Johnson continued to dominate the Fire penalty area, despite taking a hard knock from behind when picking off a cross in front of Kandji at the far post. With just under 20 minutes left to play, the Fire ‘keeper fended off a pair of dangerous free kicks, plucking Davis’s first effort from just under the crossbar and going low to block Bobby Boswell’s header off the second back upfield.
Dominic Oduro entered the match for Nyarko in the 77th minute, and less than a minute later was upended by defender Bobby Boswell to earn a dangerous free kick just outside the top right corner of the penalty area. Pardo’s free kick did not dip quite far enough to sneak under the bar. Jalil Anibaba’s 80th-minute header also narrowly missed the mark. Then Oduro took center stage once again, leading a breakaway down the center of the field, then dishing left to Fernandez, but that shot also missed wide.
As the clock wound down toward stoppage time, the Dynamo attacked with renewed energy, and finally spoiled Johnson’s clean sheet. Seconds after the Fire netminder dove to turn away Watson’s point-blank volley, Brian Ching got position on his defender and a knee on Davis’s corner kick to put the Dynamo on the board.
Alex gave Chicago the last word, however, stunning Hall with a long shot off the woodwork and into the net in the third minute of stoppage time.