BRIDGEVIEW, Ill. — A first-minute goal from Patrick Nyarko and a stoppage-time blast from Alex punctuated the Chicago Fire’s 3-1 win over the Houston Dynamo at Toyota Park on Sunday evening.
Daniel Paladini scored the other goal for the Fire, while second-half sub Brian Ching made it interesting, striking his first goal for the Dynamo since July 28.
The three points lift the Fire into 3rd place in the Eastern Conference, two points ahead of the Dynamo, who were playing their second match in four days. Houston earned a 1-1 draw away to Honduran club Olimpia in CONCACAF Champions League action on Thursday.
While the Dynamo were traveling to Central America, the Fire were enjoying a 10-day break, and the sharper team was easy to discern early on. Despite controlling 67 percent of possession on the evening, Houston gave up two early goals after mistakes in the midfield, and were never able to battle In the first minute, Nyarko intercepted Andre Hainault’s pass across the middle in his own half. The Ghanaian broke in on goal and poked his shot past goalkeeper Tally Hall.
The Dynamo thought they had equalized in the 13th minute, when Macoumba Kandji looked as if he had capitalized on a mistake from goalkeeper Sean Johnson. But the rebound was judged to have gone off Kandji’s upper arm.
The Fire capitalized on another midfield takeaway in the 18th minute, when Alvaro Fernandez took possession and found Sherjill MacDonald at the edge of the box. MacDonald sent a cross to Daniel Paladini, who slotted his shot past Hall for his second goal of the season.
Fernandez almost put the Fire up three in the 24th minute when Paladini found him wide open just outside the six-yard box.
After the break, both teams settled into a midfield tussle, though the Dynamo enjoyed more of the possession. They would finish the evening with 67% of the ball, and they created two good chances.
Ching subbed on in the 63rd minute as Dynamo coach Dominic Kinnear moved his squad to a 3-5-2 formation. Goalkeeper Sean Johnson came up big for Chicago in the 74th minute, punching a Bobby Boswell flick header away to keep the Dynamo off the board. Je-Vaughn Watson then forced another athletic save out of Johnson in the 90th minute, and the ball went out for a corner kick.
Midfielder Brad Davis found Ching on the ensuing corner kick, and the veteran halved the lead with a well-placed header.
Fire playmaker Alex then put the game out of reach in stoppage time with a blast from distance that ricocheted in off the inside of the right post. It was the Brazilian’s first goal in a Fire uniform.
The Dynamo, winless in their last six matches, return home to play Real Salt Lake next Thursday.
The Fire have another 10-day break from MLS action before heading to Toronto on September 12.
Chicago Fire (13-8-5) vs. Houston Dynamo (11-7-9)
September 2, 2012 Toyota Park, Bridgeview, Ill.
CHI: Patrick Nyarko 3 (unassisted) 1
CHI: Dan Paladini 2 (Sherjill MacDonald 3, Alvaro Fernandez 3) 19
HOU: Brian Ching 5 (Brad Davis 11) 90
CHI: Alex 1 (Dominic Oduro 3) 90+3
Houston Dynamo: Tally Hall; Andre Hainault (Kofi Sarkodie 45), Bobby Boswell, Jermaine Taylor (Brian Ching 63), Corey Ashe; Boniek Garcia, Ricardo Clark, Brad Davis; Je-Vaughn Watson, Will Bruin, Macoumba Kandji (Calen Carr 81)
Substitutes not used: Tyler Deric, Luiz Camargo, Nate Sturgis, Cam Weaver
Chicago Fire: Sean Johnson; Jalil Anibaba, Arne Friedrich, Austin Berry, Gonzalo Segares; Alvaro Fernandez, Dan Paladini, Pavel Pardo, Patrick Nyarko (Dominic Oduro 77); Chris Rolfe (Logan Pause 85), Sherjill MacDonald (Alex 55)
Substitues not used: Paolo Tornaghi, Dan Gargan, Victor Pineda, Corben Bone
HOU: Bobby Boswell (caution) 79
Referee: David Gantar
Referee's Assistants: Brian Poeschel, Scott Kachmarik
4th Official: Michael Kennedy