Three points would have been monumental but the Fire did well to pick up one in Houston while fielding a patchwork starting eleven ahead of the US Open Cup Final on Tuesday in Seattle. This sixteenth draw doesn't have the same grating effect of the first fifteen since picking up a tie against a solid home side playing for their playoff lives is a good sign that the Fire has come together as a team capable of picking up results when not at their best.
Houston needed this game badly with only two matches remaining and all other playoff competitors holding a games in hand advantage. A draw here was not a terrible result and still leaves the Fire with a fighting chance to earn a playoff berth. If they can somehow manage to win each of their last three regular season matches I believe that will be enough to squeak out the final playoff spot. As impossible as that sounded four weeks ago it seems plausible now given their current run of form.
The final three matches feature a Brimstone Cup battle against a struggling FC Dallas, a trip to DC - a team the Fire dominated at home and should have beaten a few weeks ago, and a home game to close the season against the Crew. Plausible.
Will it happen? Stay tuned.
GK Sean Johnson (6) - A big save on Boswell in the first half temporarily kept Houston from taking the lead. Strong in the box all game long punching out dangerous crosses.
D Mike Videira (5) - Struggled in the first half and had some heart skipping moments against Ching in the second half but did recover nicely to head away a dangerous cross in the 79th.
D Jalil Anibaba (6) - Deflected the corner kick that landed at Clark's feet for Houston's goal but otherwise solid in the middle paired with Gibbs.
D Cory Gibbs (6) - Houston is a very dangerous team from set pieces and Gibbs is an important piece of the Fire's set piece defending. The one goal was a result of a bit of a fortunate bounce.
D Gonzalo Segares (6) - The Fire's back line did reasonably well against a Houston team (Brad Davis) that is very dangerous from dead ball situations. Although there were several good chances from set pieces there wasn't much from the run of play.
M Logan Pause (6) - Continues to show some versatility playing out wide.
M Daniel Paladini (5) - Always a high work rate but shot selection and a tendency to get lost in space defensively in front of the back four are negatives.
M Baggio Husidic (5) - Provided the through ball that led to Oduro's goal but passing was spotty in the second half before being substituted in the 66th.
M Corben Bone (5) - Had a chance to make an impression but didn't show a whole lot.
F Diego Chaves (5) - Seemed to wear down a bit in the second half losing the ball on more than one counter attack opportunity.
F Dominic Oduro (6) - A twelfth goal on the season against his former team had to be incredibly satisfying for Oduro as he continues to add impressive numbers to a career year. Left with a sore ankle in the 51st minute but he should be okay for Tuesday.
F Patrick Nyarko (5) - Came in for Oduro in the 51st minute and did manage to beat defenders to the line for crossing opportunities but nothing came of it. Should have done better with a chance in the 95th minute. Slight hesitation to either shoot or make a move allowed Houston to recover and force a corner kick.
M Pavel Pardo (6) - Provided a fantastic pass to Nyarko in extra time to set up what could have been a game winning opportunity if it was handled a touch better.
M Marco Pappa (5) - Came into the match in the 73rd minute for Bone but didn't have any of the magic dust left over from Wednesday night.
C Frank Klopas (6) - Picking up a point in a difficult place to play under tough circumstances with a big match coming up bodes well for the immediate future of the club. Made substitutions at the right time including removing Oduro from the match after taking a knock, Pardo in the 66th minute with enough time to possibly make a difference, and Pappa late enough to get a run without expending too much energy. Perhaps Barouch could have made an impact at the end of the match but Klopas was faced with a tough balancing act this weekend.
"It was a very good result for us. We played a couple days ago at Salt Lake and we know this is a difficult place to play. As we are pushing to make the playoffs, it was a very important not to lose the game. A win would have been great, we tried to push the game to win but a point is good. We have three games left so it's a good result because it's against a good team," said Klopas.
Dynamo 3 Fire 0
The Fire fielded a team made up of guest players and academy youngsters in the Reserve League match against the Dynamo played right after the league game was complete. The result was the second loss of the season dropping the team's Reserve League record to 6-2-1. Will Bruin scored twice for Houston and Calen Carr added a first half goal. Cristian Nazirit did not start the match but was available on the bench.
Fire Line Up
Dufty; Pantazopoulos, Watson-Siriboe, Cuesta, Mendoza; Jeffries, Paulini, Jimenez, Pineda; Banner, Barouch
Bench: Conway, Alva, Ruiz, Diaz, Nazirit
The US Open Cup Final in Seattle on Tuesday night. Needless to say, that's a big one.