In honor of Earth Day and "Going Green" the Fire recycled the ending that has become all too familiar at Toyota Park. A failure to hold on to a lead by allowing a late goal and dropping points at home. It happened again tonight as an 83rd minute Bobby Boswell header levelled the score and gained a result for the visiting Dynamo.
After a fairly successful first half that saw the Fire manage a 1-0 lead despite allowing eight Houston corner kicks, the disturbing lack of possesion which has plagued the side for most of this early season continued to harm them. Houston controlled most of the last twenty minutes of the match with little response from Chicago.
Missing 1v1 scoring chances against the opposition keeper which would essentially secure victories is another trend which continually seems to occur. This time Dominic Oduro hit the cross bar in the 66th minute, an opportunity that would have given the Fire a 2-0 lead and likely a desperately needed three points. As we've seen all too often, it wasn't meant to be.
GK Jon Conway (5) - Was only called on to make one save and handled the box fairly well. The game tying goal was a result of a well placed header that Conway could do little to prevent.
D Gonzalo Segares (6) - Little production from the right side of Houston's attack. Segares did manage to get forward in support a bit and earned one of the Fire's four corner kicks in the first half with a run into the area.
D Yamith Cuesta (6) - Good effort from the young center back in place of Cory Gibbs. Effective in the air for most of the match and broke up several Houston chances. Cleared a dangerous Will Bruin chance off the line in the 23rd minute.
D Josip Mikulic (6) - Solid most of the night until the final Houston corner kick which was placed between Mikulic and Pause. Mikulic went down minutes earlier with leg cramps which may have hindered his ability to challenge this play effectively.
D Jalil Anibaba (6) - Did a nice job on Brad Davis within the run of play. Solid most of the night before being subbed out in the 76th minute. De Los Cobos cited Robinson's experience as the reason for the substitution.
M Logan Pause (5) - Played decently most of the night and managed to hold Geoff Cameron out of any dangerous opportunities. Beaten by Boswell on the tying goal. Pause's effort is always top notch but the Fire midfield continues to get overrun by opposition in the middle of the pitch all too often.
M Baggio Husidic (5) - Was active in trying to get involved in the attack early in the first half. Not as active in the second before being subbed off in the 65th minute. Didn't do anything to harm the team but didn't distinguish himself either.
M Marco Pappa (5) - Dangerous at times but silenced for stretches in the second half. Attempted several long distance shots. A left footed blast in the 74th minute which was saved by Hall was the best of the bunch. Credited with an assist on the Fire's goal.
M Patrick Nyarko (5) - Disappeared for long stretches as the Fire struggled to maintain possesion. Did draw a yellow card on Palmer in the extra time. Tracked back to help defensively effectively.
F Diego Chaves (6) - Scored the Fire's only goal and continues to be the team's best all around offensive threat. Passing and finishing are at a level above most in MLS. Played behind Oduro for most of the match in an attempt to utilize the combination of Chaves' passing and Oduro's speed.
F Dominic Oduro (5) - Was particularly dangerous early but his break away chance which would have iced the game hit the cross bar in the 66th minute. Not a bad effort from Oduro again as his pace is difficult for anyone to match.
M Mike Videira (5) - Came on in the 65th minute for Husidic and managed a few good challenges but Houston's midfield took over the match shortly after his insertion into the game. This was not all Videira's fault but more a collective lack of technical ability in the center of the field that will continue to haunt this team.
D Dasan Robinson (5) - Entered the match in the 76th minute for Anibaba although the rookie played well up to that point.
F Gaston Puerari (5) - Entered the match in the 83rd minute for Oduro, which was a little too late to make a difference since the Fire was already under siege and trying to cling to a 1-0 lead.
C Carlos De Los Cobos (5) - Neither side played particularly well and the Fire's lack of quality in central midfield is something that De Los Cobos does not appear to have an answer for. The substitutions weren't out of line but Puerari could have entered sooner. The move for Robinson may have been a preventive measure keeping the rookie out of a position to make a late mistake. Dropping points at home and defending set pieces continue to be serious problems.
De Los Cobos addressed substitions, midfield play, and more in his post game press conference. Listen to it here.
A trip to Colorado to face the defending MLS Cup champions.
The Fire open Reserve League action Sunday morning at 10am against the Houston reserves.