CHARLESTON, S.C. -- The Houston Dynamo fell to the Chicago Fire, 3-2, on Saturday night in the opening game of the Carolina Challenge Cup at Blackbaud Stadium. Adam Moffat and Cam Weaver each scored for the Dynamo, but Chicago received goals from Sherjill MacDonald, Dilly Duka and Jeff Larentowicz to secure the win.
It was the Dynamo’s first-ever loss in the Carolina Challenge Cup after winning the 2006 and 2007 tournaments with a combined record of 4-0-2.
The Dynamo seized the lead in the 15th minute on a free kick 25 yards from goal. Brad Davis rolled a short pass to Moffat, who drove a low shot through the Chicago wall and inside the post for a 1-0 lead.
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Eight minutes later, the Fire equalized as McDonald slipped in behind the Houston defense and slid his shot past Dynamo goalkeeper Tally Hall for an equalizing goal.
Chicago added a second goal four minutes later. Patrick Nyarko broke free on the right flank and bent a pass across the six-yard box, where Duka managed to steer a shot into the net under pressure from defender Kofi Sarkodie and Hall.
After the quick pair of goals from the Fire, Hall kept the Dynamo in the game with several key saves. First, near the end of the first half, Hall stopped Duka with an outstretched leg on his goal-bound effort from the top of the box. Next, in the 48th minute, Hall produced another great reaction save, diving to his right to push aside a strong header from Chris Rolfe.
But the Fire took advantage of the ensuing corner, with Joel Lindpere serving up Larentowicz, whose header found the side of the net for a 3-1 lead.
Houston fought to get back in the game, and Giles Barnes came close to scoring in the 64th minute. A nice buildup led to a layoff for Barnes, who cracked a shot from 30 yards, but Chicago goalkeeper Sean Johnson dove toward the upper corner to deflect it wide.
Just like the Fire, the Dynamo capitalized on the resulting corner kick. Davis swung in a quality service and Weaver snapped a header into the far side of the net to pull Houston within a goal, 3-2.
Hall rose to the occasion again in the 82nd minute. The U.S. national team goalkeeper stopped a penalty kick from Maicon Santos, diving to his right to smother the penalty with a two-hand save.
The Dynamo came close to scoring a late, tying goal, including a shot from Jason Johnson that just missed the far post and a free kick from Barnes that resulted in a wide header from Eric Brunner, but could not convert their chances.
Houston midfielder Ricardo Clark left the game in the first half with a left knee contusion.
The Dynamo continue the Carolina Challenge Cup on Wednesday at 4 p.m. CT in a meeting with the Vancouver Whitecaps at Blackbaud Stadium. The game will be broadcast live at USLnation.com.
Houston Dynamo vs. Chicago Fire
Carolina Challenge Cup
February 16, 2013 – Blackbaud Stadium
HOU – Adam Moffat (Brad Davis) 15
CHI – Sherjill MacDonald (unassisted) 23
CHI – Dilly Duka (Patrick Nyarko) 27
CHI – Jeff Larentowicz (Joel Lindpere) 48
HOU – Cam Weaver (Brad Davis) 64
Houston Dynamo: Tally Hall; Kofi Sarkodie (Eric Brunner 68), Bobby Boswell (Warren Creavalle 68), Jermaine Taylor (Anthony Arena* 68), Mike Chabala* (Jimmy Nealis* 68); Boniek Garcia (Alex Dixon 68), Ricardo Clark (Giles Barnes 36), Adam Moffat (Je-Vaugh Watson 68), Brad Davis (Luiz Camargo 68); Will Bruin (Jason Johnson 68), Cam Weaver (Brian Ching 68)
Chicago Fire: Sean Johnson; Logan Pause (Hunter Jumper 70), Arne Friedrich (Steven Kinney 61), Austin Berry (Michael Videira 83), Gonzalo Segares (Jalil Anibaba 31); Patrick Nyarko (Yazid Atouba 61), Jeff Larentowicz (Wells Thompson 80), Joel Lindpere (Daniel Paladini 66), Dilly Duka (Corben Bone 61); Chris Rolfe (Alex 66), Sherjill MacDonald (Maicon Santos 70)