In a game that ended in a 1-1 draw between the Houston Dynamo and Chicago Fire, the circumstances for the goal scorers could not have been any different.
Opening the scoring after a battle-tested first hour was Cam Weaver. The Dynamo forward last scored in May 28, 2011 against FC Dallas. He broke his streak on a well-crafted team goal that included five Dynamo players and a well-taken assist from Brad Davis.
Two minutes, the red hot Mike Magee knotted things up. The Fire’s most dangerous man played the offside line just right, working into a position two yards from goal to tap in Patrick Nyarko’s goalmouth cross.
Two forwards in much different places in 2013, yet their goals yielded the same result for their respective teams; a share of the points.
With the tie Houston moves to 30 points, but sits below the New England Revolution on tiebreakers in the first spot outside the playoffs. Chicago improves to 25 points on the season and stays within striking distance of the Revs for the final playoff spot.
The grounds at BBVA Compass Stadium were more battlefield than soccer pitch in the first 45 minutes, as neither team shied away from a tackle and was punctuated by two yellow cards and a pair of injury substitutions.
Dynamo sparkplug Andrew Driver was forced to leave the game in the 14th minute with a right Achilles injury. His departure made way for Davis to return to action for the first time since June 22nd. Nearly 30 minutes later Chicago’s Alex, minutes after a yellow card-inducing foul from Giles Barnes, was forced to leave with an undisclosed injury.
While the play resembled a game of Rock’em Sock’em Robots, Nyarko and a disallowed goal provided some moments of excitement.
Nyarko had three chances, including a first minute salvo, but Hall was up to the task with athletic saves all three times.
Houston looked to take an 18th minute lead when Bobby Boswell headed home a Corey Ashe cross. However, assistant referee Corey Parker raised his flag nullifying the goal, judging both Boswell and Ricardo Clark to be offside when Ashe played the ball.
Weaver and Magee livened the game up and second half substitute Warren Creavalle followed suit minutes after joining the fray in the 69th minute. The energetic second-year player nearly chipped Paolo Tornaghi and proceeded to send in a dangerous cross minutes later.
Chris Rolfe came close to breaking the deadlock in the 76th minute, taking advantage of a ricochet off Boswell to go at goal. His shot from outside the box was bested by a diving save from Tally Hall.
Rookie Jason Johnson nearly provided a storybook ending with his first goal when he broke past the Fire back line in the 83rd minute. However, his shot was hard and directly at Tornaghi who got the best of the one-v-one exchange.
Houston will host the Columbus Crew next week, while the Fire will travel to Philadelphia to face the Union the same night.
Houston Dynamo (8-6-6; 30 points) vs. Chicago Fire (7-9-4; 25 points)
MLS regular season
July 27, 2013 – BBVA Compass Stadium, Houston, TX
Attendance: 22,039 (sellout)
Houston: Cam Weaver 1 (Brad Davis 4, Corey Ashe 1) 61
Chicago: Mike Magee 13 (Patrick Nyarko 2) 63
Houston Dynamo: Tally Hall, Kofi Sarkodie, Bobby Boswell, Jermaine Taylor, Corey Ashe; Boniek Garcia, Ricardo Clark (Warren Creavalle 69), Adam Moffat, Andrew Driver (Brad Davis 15); Giles Barnes, Cam Weaver (Jason Johnson 79)
Substitutes not used: Tyler Deric, Mike Chabala, Alex Dixon, Eric Brunner
Chicago Fire: Paolo Tornaghi, Jalil Anibaba, Austin Berry, Bakary Soumare, Gonzalo Segares; Patrick Nyarko, Jeff Larentowicz, Alex (Dan Paladini 41), Joel Lindpere (Quincy Amarikwa 65), Mike Magee, Chris Rolfe (Logan Pause 81)
Substitutes not used: Maicon Santos, Alec Kann, Michael Videira, Hunter Jumper
CHI: Joel Lindpere (caution) 27
HOU: Giles Barnes (caution) 36
Referee: Ricardo Salazar
Referee's Assistants: Corey Parker, Brian Dunn
4th Official: Edvin Jurisevic