This team certainly doesn't make anything easy for themselves. With a chance to move into a tie for the fifth playoff spot in the Eastern Conference, the Fire dug themselves into another hole by dropping points at home when every result is absolutely crucial. A win would have moved them past Houston and into a tie on points with New England while holding a "game in hand" advantage.
A moment of lax defending coupled with some of the issues that caused problems early in the season (lack of finishing and loss of possession) was enough to lead to another disappointing and frustrating result at home when it was needed most. The East is chock full of clubs capable of laying an egg at any time in any match so it doesn't mean that this result will knock the Fire out of the playoff picture, but you get the sense that this is one of those games that will be looked at and identified as a "coulda/shoulda" moment when it comes to assessing the 2013 campaign.
With the clock ticking down you can only survive so many gut punches before reality sets in. Of course, the way the last two months have gone they'll probably get off the canvas and win in Seattle just in time to renew hope and set up the next punch.
GK Sean Johnson (6) - Kept the Fire from facing a one goal deficit in the fifth minute with an outstanding kick save on Bruin. Came up big late with a stop on Driver's rocket in the 86th. Recorded three saves and was strong again in the air. If only he could improve distribution.
D Gonzalo Segares (6) - Houston's Oscar Boniek-Garcia was quiet for a majority of the match on the Fire's left side. 25 out 34 successful passes is a good outing for a club that gives the ball away freely all too often.
D Austin Berry (6) - Not many clear looks for Houston as Bruin and Barnes didn't get much done in the penalty area.
D Bakary Soumare (5) - A few shaky moments including a weak attempt to deny Bruin of his breakaway chance in the 5th minute. Better in the second half as Houston gained control of the match.
D Jalil Anibaba (5) - Not a bad day against Davis with the best chance for Houston's top man coming in the 31st when his shot went wide after getting around Anibaba. He's one of the players that needs to take better care of the ball when possession is needed.
M Egidio Arevalo Rios (6) - Strong in the first half breaking up passes and moving the ball forward. Not as effective in the second as Houston had the Fire scrambling late but still one of the better players in red.
M Jeff Larentowicz (5) - The Fire's goal initially appeared to have been headed in by Larentowicz but replays showed it was knocked into the net by Houston's Bobby Boswell for an own goal. Much like the rest of the club, he was better in the first half.
M Dilly Duka (6) - A good outing for Duka although he didn't figure into a scoring play. Fifteen of twenty-two in the passing category and a few were impressive including a long ball over the top to catch Rolfe behind the Houston defense leading to a double save sequence from Hall.
M Alex (6) - A good shift for Alex who has also improved in passing efficiency over his last two games. Pretty effective in combination setting up Magee with good chances in the 25th and 35th.
F Chris Rolfe (4) - Didn't have a whole lot of touches in 70 minutes of action but he blew an opportunity to give the Fire what should have been the first score in the 33rd minute. Shot the ball wide with a clear look and ample time to get the ball on frame. Also lucky to have not been shown a straight red card for an ugly tackle on Brunner in the 41st.
F Mike Magee (5) - Good in combination setting up the sequence that led to Rolfe's chance in the 33rd but his finishing touch has been missing since his last goal on July 7. Had a good look in the 35th but scuffed a shot right at Hall. Had a loose ball chance from Rolfe's try in the 15th but Hall denied him. Hall stopped him again from a tough angle in the 25th and he unfortunately hit the post in the 73rd with what would have iced the game for the Fire. Check out postgame comments from Magee, Rolfe, Segares, and Larentowicz at the Fire Confidential Facebook Page.
M Patrick Nyarko (5) - Brought some energy upon entering the game in the 64th for Duka and looked pretty good on both ends of the pitch until the final minute. Moffat was Nyarko's mark on the tying goal, an uncharacteristically bad lack of concentration and effort unfortunately led to the equalizer.
F Juan Luis Anangono (5) - Came into the match in the 70th for Rolfe and blasted one shot wide in the 78th.
M Joel Lindpere (5) - Entered the match in the 83rd for Alex. I'm still not sure what the benefit of bringing Lindpere into the game with a one goal lead and 7 minutes to play would be.
The Fire take their 0-9-2 streak on turf to Seattle where they've never won a match.