The Houston Dynamo’s road woes continued as the lowly Chicago Fire turned in a disciplined performance to win 1 – 0. Despite what the stats might say, the Dynamo were again very poor offensively until late into the match (more on that in a second). To rub salt into the wound, it was Houston native Arturo Alvarez who gave the Fire the full three points. The same Alvarez who trained with the team in the off-season who couldn’t secure a contract with his hometown club.
To heap more bad news onto the team, shortly after the goal, DaMarcus Beasley was substituted out of the match. He picked up an illness earlier in the week and was only able to pull a 13 minute shift before being unable to continue.
As any Houstonian would know of late, when it rains it freaking pours.
With Erick Torres away on international duty, Head Coach Owen Coyle turned to Will Bruin in the lone striker role with the rest of the lineup largely unchanged. The only other change was Tyler Deric given the nod between the pipes. The Houston native had a nervy start but settled in and ultimately put in a very good performance. During the second half is especially when Deric truly shined with the type of saves that earned him the name of St. Deric (which coincidentally came in the last road game Giles Barnes scored in).
The goal for Alvarez came in the 3′ when Gilberto played a wonderful through ball with Beasley giving chase. Alvarez beat the former US International to the ball by a half-step and tapped it past a diving Deric. The Dynamo pair ended up in a heap inside the box as they crashed into each other. Beasley attempted to play through the hit but could only last another ten minutes or so. It’s unclear exactly if Deric attempted to call off Beasley or the other way around (or not at all). In either case the El Salvadorian International tapped in the goal and the Fire never looked back.
The first half was largely forgettable after the goal. It was a simple matter for the Fire defense to close down the Dynamo offense as they continuously played a very narrow style with Giles Barnes and/or Andrew Wenger cutting inside. While that in and of itself isn’t a bad thing, the timing of these runs had the nasty habit of bumping into Christian Maidana. With Ricardo Clark pushing up to support the offense, there were too many players crowding around the top of the box and not enough width to spread out the defense.
This kind of play did lead to long stretches of possession for the Dynamo but few chances on frame. Sean Johnson, given his second straight start after a long injury absence, had little to do through the first two-thirds of the match.
With the game still going against the Dynamo, and few chances being created, Coyle started to make changes ten minutes into the half. Will Bruin, who had few touches and fewer chances, was taken off in favor of Leonel Miranda, pushing Barnes up top. This wasn’t much more successful except for one chance when the ball was played over the top but Johnson beat the Jamaican to the ball by a half-step.
After Mauro Manotas came in for Maidana, the Fire started pushing the counter attack in search of a second goal. Fortunately, Deric was able to keep a cool head and made several outstanding saves to keep the team in contention.
This gave Manotas several chances to tie the game up. The best came in the 86th minute when the young Colombian sent a beautiful shot that Johnson did a fantastic job to push over the bar.
If there were positives to take away from the game, it would be the performances of Deric and Manotas.
With the loss, the Dynamo are now 0-6-0 on the road this season, still the only team without a point away from home. They’ll continue their road trip next weekend with a trip to Vancouver.