Thanks to a Brian Ching header late, the Houston Dynamo were able to breathe a collective sigh of relief after struggling to hold on to two separate two-goal leads against the Chicago Fire on Saturday night.
“We haven’t played with the lead for a while, and we let our guard down,” said head coach Dominic Kinnear. “We started being sloppy, and they were throwing a lot of guys forward as well.”
The sloppy play seemed to start the minute that midfielder Anthony Obodai was subbed out. While Obodai played well against the Fire, it was not so much the effect of his departure as it was the reshuffling of the backline that came with it.
“We made some changes, and guys got disoriented with the way things were going,” said defender Bobby Boswell. “It had nothing to do with the guys we brought on, just that it is hard [for substitutes] to come into the flow of a game.”
One of the things that got away from the Dynamo defense was Freddie Ljungberg. The Fire forward switched to midfield in the second half and set up all three of Chicago’s goals, but he was also responsible for an ugly incident late. Dynamo goalkeeper Pat Onstad laid out to collect a ball that the Swede was a little late trying to get. The forward kept his foot out and made contact with Onstad’s head, leaving a clear bruise.
“He left the boot in,” said Onstad. “He didn’t swing, he just left it there. I think he was getting frustrated. There was no way he was going to injure me, but I get to look a little prettier now.”
His defenders were thankful the injury was not more severe.
“If you look at his head, he’s got a big thing on it,” said Boswell. “If he gets a concussion, he may miss a couple of games. It is one of those situations that we are glad Pat didn’t get hurt.”
Onstad returned to the starting lineup for the first time since July 10. While he was happy to be back, he was disappointed in how Chicago got its first goal.
“It was nice to get back in there,” said Onstad. “The first goal was soft, and it got underneath me. You make a mistake, you get punished, but fortunately the guys fought back and we got three points.”
Onstad’s feelings seemed to mirror that of his fellow defenders.
“Some of the plays were a little unfortunate,” explained Boswell. “Any other night, it doesn’t go down the way it did, but we can’t give up three goals. We will take the win … but we will take a look at what happened at the end.”
Dwain Capodice is a contributor to MLSsoccer.com. Questions or comments can be sent via email to firstname.lastname@example.org.