The Fire need to start amassing wins as the second half of the season moves into full gear but taking a point in Houston can’t be considered a bad result. Despite a good chance or two, the home team had a little better of the play overall and Chicago did well to keep them off the board for a second goal particularly in the last 15 minutes. On the strength of a barrage of crosses and corner kicks, the Dynamo threatened to find a late winner but couldn’t find a way to get past Paolo Tornaghi.
Houston can point to a Bobby Boswell header in the 18th minute that appeared to be onside but was waved off as a key moment in the match but they also got the benefit of the doubt late in the game when Brad Davis crashed into Quincy Amarikwa in the area knocking him to the turf. Referee Ricardo Salazar didn’t award the penalty and the match perhaps fittingly ended in a 1-1 draw.
At 7-9-4, the Fire face another big match in Philadelphia next Saturday. Chicago trails the Union in the Eastern Conference standings by nine points but have two games in hand. After losing the first two encounters earlier this season, the Fire can’t afford to lose a third to a club which they will likely be battling for one of those final Eastern Conference playoff spots.
GK Paolo Tornaghi (6) – His best game of the season comes just before Sean Johnson rejoins the club from USMNT duty and the Gold Cup final. Tornaghi registered three saves but the best were saved for the waning moments when he stopped Giles Barnes on a counter opportunity in the 77th and an even bigger denial in the 83rd when he stoned Jason Johnson on a clear chance in front of goal.
D Gonzalo Segares (6) – Houston had a ton of possession in the Chicago end but the Fire backline was steady enough to keep the Dynamo from having many clear looks. Matched up with Boniek Garcia most of the night – called for an inadvertent handball at the side of the box in the 45th and recovered nicely to stop him after a good move in the 59th. A long ball over the top to Rolfe in the 51st created an opportunity.
D Austin Berry (6) – The Fire withstood 12 corner kick attempts from a very capable set piece team. Berry had some help with good team defending in the box but it was a good sign to see him active and confident again.
D Bakary Soumare (5) – Was in the neighborhood when Boswell got a free header into the net in the 18th that was called back. A lazy backpass in first half stoppage time almost resulted in disaster but Tornaghi recovered just in time to clear the ball away from an onrushing Cam Weaver. Failed to pick up Weaver as the Houston forward beat him to the ball in front of the net for a tap in and the lone Houston goal.
D Jalil Anibaba (6) – The final touch still needs some work but he did free himself for crossing opportunities on several occasions. One cross found Lindpere for a chance in front of the goal in the 58th. Davis was relatively quiet on the right side when matched up.
M Jeff Larentowicz (5) – Houston had control of the middle for several stretches throughout and Creavalle created some havoc when he entered the match late. One shot on goal was blocked from distance on a free kick attempt.
M Alex (5) – Left in the 41st minute after a nasty tackle from behind by Barnes appeared to have caught him on the ankle.
M Joel Lindpere (5) – After a huge game last week, Lindpere wasn’t bad in this one but he wasn’t much of a factor either. A good look at goal in the 58th sailed well over the crossbar.
M Patrick Nyarko (6) – Created the Fire score by dispossessing Corey Ashe in the 63rd, beating him to the endline, and finding Magee in front of the net for an easy tying goal. Worked hard all night on both ends but Davis did manage to get by him on an open play one minute earlier to draw out the Fire defense and find Weaver in front of the net.
F Chris Rolfe (5) – Had an excellent look in the 76th when a cleared ball landed at his feet but his right footed shot was turned away by Tally Hall for a corner kick. Moved out wide when Pause entered the match late (a preview of things to come?).
F Mike Magee (6) – Scored yet again but made sure to acknowledge Nyarko’s effort by calling him over during the goal celebration and pointing to his teammates name on the back of his jersey, right in front of the camera.
M Daniel Paladini (5) – Entered the match in the 41st for Alex but the Fire’s central midfielders didn’t contribute much going forward. Another two way attacker from the center spot is probably needed to go along with newly signed Juan Anongono.
F Quincy Amarikwa (5) – Subbed in for Lindpere in the 65th. Another good shift for Amarikwa off the bench although he didn’t figure into a scoring play this week. His deflected pass led to Rolfe’s chance in the 76th and he very well could have drawn a another penalty in the 87th.
M Logan Pause (5) – Came into the match for Rolfe in the 81st.
- Juan Anongono should be available for the Philadelphia match. Fans will be eager to get a look at what he can do as soon as his visa is received. The Fire need to find out if he can make an impact this season, and quickly.
- Sean Johnson won’t have far to travel in rejoining the club. He’ll back with the Fire this week at the conclusion of the Gold Cup. Nick Rimando will get the call against Panama but Johnson played well in his one showing during the tournament. The club has an option year coming up on his original Generation Adidas contract so it will be interesting to see if any international options arise.
- Might we have seen the last of Sherjill MacDonald? The forward trained this week but was not in the 18. With the transfer window closing on August 8, the Fire are looking to move him via loan or transfer.