The Houston Dynamo got a goal each from striker Omar Cummings and midfielder Boniek García in a 2-0 win over the Chicago Fire on Saturday at BBVA Compass Stadium, keeping their Eastern Conference playoff hopes alive another week.
With the win, Houston (10-13-6, 36 points) closed the gap between them and the postseason red line to five points behind the New York Red Bulls, who play at the LA Galaxy on Sunday night.
Hope is fleeting now for the Fire (5-8-16, 31 points), who missed suspended starting defenders Bakary Soumare and Lovell Palmer and are winless in their past four games.
Houston struck first just after the quarter-hour on a textbook display of crossing and finishing. The Dynamo attacked the left side and midfielder Ricardo Clark got the best of Fire veteran Logan Pause before firing a cross to the back post. Cummings split Gonzalo Segares and Jeff Larentowicz for a simple sliding finish and his fourth goal of the season.
The Dynamo finished what Cummings started on a perfectly played team goal in the 67th minute. Defender Kofi Sarkodie hit a cross from the right side to midfielder Brad Davis, who headed the ball to a wide-open García inside the box. The picture-perfect volley was his second goal of the season and marked a welcome return to the lineup after he missed last week’s match against the Philadelphia Union with a concussion.
Boniek also nearly set up a goal to Giles Barnes in the 37th minute. He hit a perfectly placed ball over the top that Barnes chipped with the outside of his foot, but Fire goalkeeper Sean Johnson got a hand to the and tipped the ball off the crossbar to keep the Dynamo out.
Not to be outdone, two minutes later Fire forward Quincy Amarikwa forced Houston goalkeeper Tyler Deric into action. The forward hit a low shot to the far post that looked destined for the inside of the post, but Deric stretched out to push it away to preserve his club’s 1-0 halftime lead.
After the half Houston continued to push early and came close to adding to their lead.
In the 52nd minute the returning García showed his ability to ignite the attack, holding off two defenders 35 yards away from goal to play Barnes into a one-on-one with Johnson. The US international was again up to the task, however, stuffing his chance after a bad touch. On the resulting corner Johnson again came up big for the Fire making an athletic play to get to and slap away an AJ Cochran header that was destined for goal.
The Dynamo travel to play the Red Bulls in a crucial match at Red Bull Arena on Oct. 4, while the Fire play at Philadelphia on Oct. 2
Houston Dynamo (10-13-6; 36 points) vs. Chicago Fire (5-8-16; 31 points)
MLS regular season
September 28, 2014 – BBVA Compass Stadium, Houston, TX
Houston: Omar Cummings 2 (Ricardo Clark 4) 15
Houston: Boniek García 2 (Brad Davis 10, Kofi Sarkodie 3) 67
Houston Dynamo: Tyler Deric; Kofi Sarkodie, David Horst, AJ Cochran, DaMarcus Beasley; Boniek Garcia, Luis Garrido, Ricardo Clark, Brad Davis © (Andrew Driver 85) Giles Barnes, Omar Cummings (Brian Ownby 79)
Substitutes Not Used: Michael Lisch, Eric Brunner, Jermaine Taylor, Servando Carrasco, Alexander López
Chicago Fire: Sean Johnson; Logan Pause, Patrick Ianni, Jeff Larentowicz, Gonzalo Segares (Grant Ward 80); Matt Watson, Razvan Cocis (Patrick Nyarko 62), Harry Shipp; Florent Sinama-Pongolle (Alex 65), Robert Earnshaw, Quincy Amarikwa
Substitutes Not Used: Kyle Reynish, Greg Cochrane, Chris Ritter, Matthew Fondy
HOU: Ricardo Clark (caution) 10
HOU: David Horst (caution) 21
CHI: Gonzalo Segares (caution) 47
CHI: Jeff Larentowicz (caution) 65
Referee: Jose Carlos Rivero
Referee’s Assistants: Eric Boria, Greg Barkey
Fourth Official: Alejandro Mariscal