RECAP: Fire Fail to Hang On to First Half Lead, Concede Late in 1-1 Draw Against Houston

Photo Credit: Brian Kersey Chicago Fire

The Fire started the match with one of the club’s best halves of the season, leading possession 55% to 45%, in front of an announced crowd of 17,808 fans at Toyota Park.  The Fire scored for the first time off of a corner kick this season in the thirty-seventh minute, when Mike Magee took the kick and it was headed in.  The goal was originally announced as having been scored by Fire midfielder Jeff Larentowicz, but was later changed and “credited” to Houston’s Bobby Boswell as an own goal.

The Fire nearly went down to ten men in the fortieth minute of play as Rolfe slid in for the ball, missing by a wide margin.  Instead, Rolfe’s attempt for the ball resulted in taking out Houston’s Eric Brunner from behind.  Many would argue that Rolfe – who did receive a yellow card after the incident – was lucky not to have been sent off with a red card.  Brunner was reported to have a leg injury, which may or may not include a broken bone.

The Fire went into half-time with the lead, but perhaps not as many goals up as they would have liked, considering that the team totaled fourteen shots in the half and forced Dynamo goalkeeper Tally Hall to make five saves in the half.  The Fire have not lost a game after scoring first since Klopas took over as head coach of the club, but had allowed the opponent to equalize, ending the match in a draw, five times prior to Sunday’s affair.

Ultimately, the Fire were unable to hold on, despite carrying a lead into the ninetieth minute.  Adam Moffat would score a very nice goal in the seconds leading up to stoppage time, preventing the Fire from making the long sought jump into the fifth and final playoff spot.  While the Fire did get a pair of opportunities in stoppage time, the damage had been done.  The Fire remain in seventh, while the Dynamo moved into a tie in points with fifth place New England.

Mike Magee came close to securing the victory in the seventy-third minute, hitting the post on one of the team’s twenty-one shots in the match.  Ultimately, it was a lack of finishing that proved to be the problem, leading to Klopas being questioned about Chris Rolfe remaining in the match as long as he did despite the near red card and his particular lack of finishes.  Klopas did not seem to look to deeply into the matter, stating that Anangono is still working his way into the club, and that despite Rolfe’s recent struggles, he has worked well with Magee since the two were united atop the Fire’s attack.

The Fire face a tough task coming off this disheartening performance, having to travel to Seattle in front of the largest crowd the team will see this season to take on the Seattle Sounders FC on Saturday, September 7 at 9:00 PM CDT, and then Toronto FC on Wednesday, September 11 at 6:30 PM CDT.  The games will be broadcast in English on NBC Sports Network and My50 Chicago respectively.  Both matches will also be available on the radio in Spanish on La Ley 107.9 FM.

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