Cameron Weaver scored Houston’s first goal from a forward since early May and Mike Magee grabbed yet another score as the Dynamo and Chicago Fire played to a 1-1 draw.
In a match with major implications for later in the season, two teams fighting for a spot in the playoff sector both battled hard but could do no more than share the points. With so much up for grabs, both teams will be relatively disappointed not to snatch all the spoils.
The game began possession-centric as neither team sat back but neither team wanted to risk conceding first either.
Bobby Boswell thought he had the opener in the 18th minute with a far-post header off a Corey Ashe cross, but the assistant referee’s flag went up. Replays showed Boswell was on, although Ricardo Clark may have been barely off next to Boswell.
Both teams were forced to make first-half injury substitutes. Houston’s Alex Driver suffered a right Achilles injury with Brad Davis coming on for his 300th MLS appearance earlier than Dominic Kinnear had hoped. Chicago were forced to sub defensive midfielder Alex after a yellow-card challenge from Giles Davis.
The Dynamo had another near-miss in first half stoppage time when a horribly lazy back-pass from Bakary Soumare almost gave Cameron Weaver an open net but Paolo Tornaghi came out well to smother the chance.
The first half ended scoreless, with little action on goal otherwise. Both teams had chances to build but not much otherwise.
In the second half, Houston came out with more determination and a more attacking sense, and developed many more chances early.
Chicago’s best chance of the match fell in the 58th minute when Jalil Anibaba sliced in a low cross to Joel Lindpere who skied it way over.
Weaver won the ball on the right wing at the mid line, and sent it across for Corey Ashe. Ashe sent the ball through for a streaking Brad Davis, who cut it back across the face of goal for Weaver who sidestepped it in.
The goal blasted the game wide open.
Houston’s lead didn’t last long as two minutes later Patrick Nyarko navigated traffic in the box to send it across the face from right to left and Magee was there for the tap-in. The goal from Magee is his seventh score in nine matches since joining Chicago in late May.
Chicago almost got a cheap goal when the ball deflected to Chris Rolfe on a breakaway but Tally Hall’s fantastic diving save kept the low shot out.
The Dynamo continued to pepper Chicago’s goal, but the Fire held well. In the 77th minute Boenik Garcia found Barnes who was smothered again by Tornaghi before being cleared. Then the 83rd minute saw a cutting bit of passing find substitute Jason Johnson but his open shot was saved by a diving Tornaghi.
Houston dominated possession the rest of the way but could not unlock the Chicago defense for a late winner.
The draw slots Houston back into the top-5 in the East after a quick dip down following New England’s win earlier in the day. For Chicago, they remain five points back of Houston for that final playoff spot, although there’s still plenty of time to make something happen.