The Houston Dynamo needed every bit of a Brian Ching hat trick to edge past the Chicago Fire, 4-3, on Saturday night at Robertson Stadium. Ching's thee goals iced a classic tilt that saw the Fire battle back from a two-goal deficit to tie the game at 3-3.
However, Ching — who earlier had tallied a spectacular overhead bicycle kick to give the Dynamo a two-goal cushion — headed home the winner with five minutes remaining, earning his embattled side their first victory against an MLS opponent since May 22.
After dominating the first 20 minutes, Houston finally got on the board first in the 31st minute, but it may have received a slight break from referee Kevin Stott. Fire goalkeeper Sean Johnson had jumped to pluck a corner kick out of the air just as Ching was underneath him. Johnson also collided with teammate C.J. Brown, and Stott did not whistle a foul as the goalkeeper slammed into the grass. The ball squirted free, leaving Ching with an empty net in front of him. The forward did not waste his opportunity to put the hosts ahead.
Houston extended its lead in the 50th minute after a well-worked free-kick. Placed just outside the box, Richard Mulrooney lined up over the ball before laying off a short pass to Palmer, whose first-time effort snuck past Johnson an in off the right post.
Calen Carr responded for the Fire in the 55th minute after Freddie Ljungberg found the second-half substitute streaking into the box. Carr collected the pass, and his quick shot seemed to catch Houston goalkeeper Pat Onstad flat-footed. The Fire were back within one.
However, just four minutes later Ching got his second goal in impressive fashion after yet another Dynamo corner kick found Bobby Boswell at the far post. The defender's shot caromed off the crossbar and ricocheted back into play, leaving Ching to hit a stunning overhead bicycle kick that padded Houston's lead to two.
However, there was no quit in the Fire as they pulled another goal back — this time through the hard work of Patrick Nyarko, who pressured Boswell as he faced his own goalkeeper. The ball took enough of a deflection of Boswell's leg to slip past Onstad and into the net, again pulling the Fire within one.
In the 81st minute, the Fire pulled level off a corner kick. Ljungberg got his second assist on the night, delivering a perfect corner to the head of center back Wilman Conde, who finished accurately to knot the game at 3-3.
However, Brian Ching was not to be denied, as he scored his third goal of the night in the 85th minute — and once again, it came from a set piece for Houston. Richard Mulrooney got his second assist on the night when his corner kick found Ching, whose header beat Johnson at the far post.
Dwain Capodice is a contributor to MLSsoccer.com. Questions or Comments can be sent via email to email@example.com.
Chicago Fire (6-6-6) vs. Houston Dynamo (6-10-5)
August 21, 2010 -- Robertson Stadium, Houston TX
HOU -- Brian Ching 4 (unassisted) 31
HOU -- Lovel Palmer 2 (Richard Mulrooney 1) 50
CHI -- Calen Carr 2 (Freddie Ljungberg 5) 55
HOU -- Brian Ching 5 (unassisted) 59
CHI -- own goal (Bobby Boswell) 70
CHI -- Wilman Conde 1 (Freddie Ljungberg 6) 81
HOU -- Brian Ching 6 (Richard Mulrooney 2) 85
Chicago Fire -- Sean Johnson, Dasan Robinson (Steven Kinney 41), C.J. Brown, Wilman Conde, Gonzalo Segares, Marco Pappa, Baggio Husidic, Logan Pause, Nery Castillo (Calen Carr 46), Freddie Ljungberg, Brian McBride (Patrick Nyarko 60).
Substitutes Not Used: Mike Banner, Krzysztof Krol, Peter Lowry, Andrew Dykstra.
Houston Dynamo -- Pat Onstad, Richard Mulrooney, Bobby Boswell, Geoff Cameron, Andrew Hainault, Danny Cruz (Brad Davis 80), Anthony Obodai (Mike Chabala 49), Lovel Palmer, Brian Mullan, Brian Ching, Dominic Oduro (Joseph Ngwenya 62).
Substitutes Not Used: Ryan Cochrane, Eddie Robinson, Cam Weaver, Tally Hall.
HOU -- Brian Ching (caution; Reckless Tackle) 44
CHI -- Wilman Conde (caution; Persistent Infringement) 61
CHI -- Freddie Ljungberg (caution; Reckless Tackle) 94+
Referee: Kevin Stott
Referee's Assistants: Kermit Quisenberry; Sean Hurd
4th official: Landis Wiley
Weather: Partly Cloudy-and-91-degrees
All statistics contained in this boxscore are unofficial