BRIDGEVIEW, Ill. - Five years ago Calen Carr was filtering playoff assists for the Chicago Fire, but on Wednesday night it was a seeing-eye pass from Carr that buried his former club for good.
Paired with fellow Houston Dynamo forward Will Bruin up top, Carr's through-pass seconds after halftime led to the visitors' second goal as the Dynamo advanced to the Eastern Conference semifinals with a 2-1 victory over Chicago at Toyota Park.
"I have a lot of respect for the Chicago Fire organization,'' Carr said. "They've had a good season and should be proud for what they've accomplished, but at the same time the stakes are high and we've got our goals here with the Houston Dynamo. We're very excited to have another chance to advance in the playoffs.''
Carr never quite broke through in his five seasons with the Chicago Fire (2006-2010). Injuries played a big part, and Carr was nursing a concussion when the club traded him to the Houston Dynamo in the first week of the 2011 season.
VIDEO: Carr, Bruin break down match
The Fire got speedy Dominic Oduro, an under-achieving forward with Houston, in a deal that wound up helping both clubs. But while Oduro came off the bench to give the Fire a spark, Carr was a starter on Wednesday night and dealt Chicago the decisive blow of the match.
"I had a tough string of luck, for sure,'' he said of the injuries dating back to Chicago. "I'm out there with a helmet on. But I'm feeling good and I've stayed healthy this season and much of the last one. I've put together a good run of form and just want to help this team any way I can.''
And he did just that on Wednesday night. Carr delivered the pass in what he felt was the turning point: Bruin's second goal 18 seconds into the second half.
Although Houston hadn't won a road match since beating Toronto FC on July 28, the Dynamo had control for most of Wednesday night's playoff match against Chicago.
"That was a big help toward our success,'' Carr said. "We imposed our will on the game. We didn't allow them to get comfortable.''
The 30-year-old forward credited midfielders Ricardo Clark and Adam Moffat for their ability to win loose balls and downplayed his own role in the Dynamo's success. Whatever his role in the victory, Carr is just happy to be part of another playoff run with the Dynamo.
"Coming to Houston was great for me,'' he said. "I enjoyed my time in Chicago. I look back on it fondly, but the best time of my career is here (with the Dynamo). I feel lucky to be part of this group.''