The Houston Dynamo have not lost back-to-back games all year, and they did not want Sunday night to be the first time against the high-powered Chicago Fire. After suffering a deflating 3-0 loss at New York last weekend, the Dynamo entered Sunday's match more than ready to show that their recent surge to the top of the Western Conference was no fluke. Thanks to a well-balanced attack from the midfield and forward positions, and good goalkeeping from Pat Onstad, the Dynamo did just enough to beat the Fire, 2-1, at Robertson Stadium.
The Dynamo erased an early 1-0 deficit, getting goals from Dwayne De Rosario and Brian Mullan in the first half, and Onstad made five saves to give Houston a five-point lead over Real Salt Lake in MLS's Western Conference.
Chicago's Brian McBride scored the first goal of the game just six minutes into the contest, but Houston took a 2-1 lead into halftime thanks to answering scores by De Rosario and Mullan. Houston also missed several other opportunities in a half they largely dominated.
McBride scored his first goal since joining the Fire after the 2008 Olympic Games in Beijing. The Dynamo thought Cuauhtemoc Blanco fouled Bobby Boswell when he worked his way around the Houston defense. But Blanco kept going, the Orange did not get the call they wanted, and McBride finished off the easy goal in the box past an exposed Onstad.
Then Houston took over.
One minute later, Brad Davis sent a free-kick pass to De Rosario, who scored his first MLS goal since a June 8 win over Toronto. De Rosario did score in Houston's 4-0 win over Atlante on July 12 during the 2008 SuperLiga tournament.
The Dynamo were flying after that goal. Davis had a good shot in the 12th minute that Chicago 'keeper Jon Busch had to save by diving to his left. In the 18th minute, it was Davis again with a quick shot from just outside the box. In minute 20, De Rosario slipped by his defender again, took a quick pass from Richard Mulrooney and chipped what appeared to be an easy goal just over the crossbar.
The Fire threatened in the 24th minute when Justin Mapp challenged Onstad, but the veteran 'keeper made the stop and Houston kept rolling. In the 29th minute, an unmarked Mullan got all alone in the box and fired a 14-yard shot that went just wide. Houston's frustrations peaked in the 36th minute when De Rosario sent a perfect cross to Davis from the goal line, only to see Davis miss a sure goal with a bouncing header wide left.
But the men in Orange took their first lead of the match in the 39th minute when the team scored a perfect tic-tac-toe goal for a 2-1 lead. Nate Jaqua fed a short pass to Davis, who found some room just outside the box. Brian Mullan got open, took a quick feed from Davis and scored past a leaping Busch for the one-goal advantage.
The Fire had a great chance to tie the game in the 82nd minute when Blanco broke through the defense and floated a shot toward the Houston net. But Onstad got a hand to the 21-yarder as it was falling toward the crossbar, pushing it high. In the 83rd and 90th minutes, Chicago sub Mike Banner had two good looks at Onstad but again missed the chance to tie.
Houston's Eddie Robinson injured his left leg making a good stop on the first attempt, and Banner's second shot from just outside the box deflected off a teammate and almost found the far post very early in stoppage time.
Andrew J. Ferraro is a contributor to MLSnet.com.