HOUSTON – With his club looking for a second half spark, Brad Davis provided the necessary magic to clinch another home victory for the Houston Dynamo, this time against the Chicago Fire, and the club’s name in the history books in the process.
The Eastern Conference battle looked destined to finish even, with neither team able to gain a foothold on the second half, but in the 81st minute Davis took a Kofi Sarkodie pass and clipped in a cross that went untouched and nestled in the far-side netting.
Davis’ goal proved the clincher in a 2-1 win that extended Houston's home unbeaten streak to five games this season and 35 games in all competitions dating back to July 2011. The result allowed the Dynamo to rise above Real Salt Lake into sole possession of the all-time MLS record for home dominance, the third longest such streak in all of North American sports.
Will Bruin got the scoring started on the day by making his return from a hamstring injury in style, heading home his second goal of the season to give the Dynamo a 1-0 lead in the 26th minute. Davis did the heavy lifting, earning every bit of his assist by turning Wells Thompson inside-out to get space and swing in a perfect cross, and the striker made no mistake, heading his shot to the far post and out of Chicago goalkeeper Sean Johnson’s reach.
The goal was a just reward for a first 25 minutes that were all Dynamo. Houston dominated the ball early in the game and looked the more dangerous side, coming close to scoring when Davis’ 20-yard free kick drew an athletic one-handed save from Johnson in the 18th minute.
The Fire responded after the goal, putting more pressure on Houston’s defense and evening things up three minutes later.
On a long throw-in, Houston was unable to clear the ball and Sherjill MacDonald set up Daniel Paladini, who laid a ball down past Corey Ashe to Chris Rolfe. The former US striker took his chance well, blasting a first-time shot to the near corner to make Houston pay and put the game at 1-1 going into the half.
The second half was more physical and chances were tough to come by until came close to breaking the deadlock in the 63rd minute when Ricardo Clark led a break down the field to set up Andrew Driver, who had a strong showing in place of the injured Boniek Garcia. However, Johnson did well to bat down the shot, with no Dynamo player on hand to clean up the spill.
The teams continued to trade blows, but in the 70th minute Chicago’s speed off the bench nearly turned the game.
Patrick Nyarko, who made his return as a sub after missing a last week's 3-1 win over New York with a quad injury, got behind Ashe and played fellow sub Maicon Santos in. The Brazilian striker got his foot to the ball after getting past Bobby Boswell but his attempt rolled wide, with Jermaine Taylor doing well to block Rolfe's follow-up effort.
Jeff Larentowicz nearly brought the Fire back for the second time on the day when he headed a Joel Lindpere free kick off the crossbar minutes after Davis' goal, the Fire's final clear chance on the day.
Both teams are back in action next Saturday, as Houston will head north to face Toronto FC while the Fire will host Midwestern rivals Columbus Crew the same day.
MLSsoccer.com Men of the Match
|Rank||Player||What We Saw|
|1||Brad Davis||Stepped up in a way you'd expect from a player of his caliber, providing a great assist on the opener and watching his cross go untouched into the net for the winner|
|2||Andrew Driver||The Anglo-Scottish winger was a threat for all his 70 minutes on the field, generating some of the Dynamo's best offensive moves and having a shot well-saved by Johnson|
|3||Jermaine Taylor||A strong performance alongside Boswell in the backline, made a potentially goal-saving stop on Rolfe with the game knotted at 1-1|