It may have come against the team with the second lowest point total in MLS but the Fire had what was probably their best overall performance of the season in this much needed 1-0 victory. The 4-3-3 alignment that looked lethargic against New England worked well enough in this match. Chicago outshot Houston 20 to 10 (7 to 1 on target) despite the visitors holding a bulk of the possession.
The positives came in the ability to create numerous chances even without David Accam and another solid overall defensive effort. Negatives can be seen in the lack of finishing those chances however.
Houston is winless on the road and wildly inconsistent while sitting at the bottom of the West, but you've got to beat the team in front of you. The Fire did that, for the second time this season.
Recap and ratings
GK Sean Johnson (6.5) - Seems to have claimed the starting job again with his second consecutive game. Credited with three saves but the outstretched stop on Manotas in the 86th probably saved the win for the Fire. Strong presence and command of the penalty area throughout the match.
D Rodrigo Ramos (5.5) - A few good tackles and a couple of forward runs helped but he needs to take care of the battle much better. Passing accuracy at 54% definitely needs to improve.
D Johan Kappelhof (6.5) - Turning into one of the better and more consistent center backs in the league. Led all defenders with 7 interceptions. Houston only managed 10 total shots despite holding a 63-37 possession advantage.
D Jonathan Campbell (6) - In teaming with Kappelhof and the three midfielders in front of the backline, Campbell helped limit Bruin and Wenger to very few clean looks. Small space in front of him and behind Meira in the 86th allowed for Manotas' shot in the 86th.
D Brandon Vincent (6) - 66 touches actually led all Fire players. 74% passing was decent. Tasked with corner kick duty on one side for the second straight match. A step up for the rookie.
M Nick LaBrocca (5) - Decent service on a few corners from the right side. 61% for a midfielder isn't going to cut it however.
M Matt Polster (6) - Strong game for Polster in the middle of the 4-3-3. Started an excellent build up in the 49th when he avoided several tackles and moved the ball forward in the 49th leading to a big chance for Gilberto. The play went from Polster, to Alvarez, to Igboananike, to Ramos, to the foot of Gilberto. 72% passing accuracy.
M Michael Stephens (6) - The Fire looked to defend and counter against Houston and it worked. Stephens aided Polster and the back line with the usual good work rate, 3 chances created, and 73% passing accuracy.
F Arturo Alvarez (6) - Scored the goal when he got behind DaMarcus Beasley to get some contact on Gilberto's cross and roll the ball into the net past the charging Tyler Deric in the 3rd minute. 69% passing and two shots on target in the match. His best game in a Fire shirt.
F Gilberto (6) - Finally delivered in the center forward role after a difficult start to the season but he easily could have had a couple of goals of his own. Deric denied him with a huge stop in the 49th and he created a clean look for himself in the 91st minute but he blasted the ball high of the target. Took 8 shot attempts. Only 2 were on target but he was more involved and dangerous than he has been all season. 47 touches.
F Kennedy Igboananike (5.5) - Work rate continued to be excellent but only had 20 touches on the day. Involved in good combination play leading to chances on several of those touches.
F Joey Calistri (5) - Replaced Igboananike in the 62nd. Only 8 touches and 1 of 3 passes completed in almost a half hour on the pitch.
M Joao Meira (5) - Came on for Stephens in the 70th minute. Allowed Manotas the sliver of space for his shot but had an good interception in the 87th.
M Razvan Cocis (5) - Subbed in for Polster in the 80th minute after a yellow card in the 76th.