HOUSTON – Patrick Nyarko made the most of his return to MLS action after 10 months on the shelf.
In his first league match since suffering an ACL injury Oct. 14 last season, the Chicago Fire attacker netted the late equalizer to give his team a 1-1 draw Friday night against hosts Houston Dynamo at BBVA Compass Stadium.
It negated the Dynamo opener in the second half from former Fire midfielder Alex.
Both teams were able to break losing streaks with the result, but neither side improved their standing in their respective conference. The Fire, who had dropped their previous four league matches, remain in last place in the Eastern Conference with 15 points from 16 games, while Houston, losers of their previous two, are ninth in the west with 21 points from 18 games.
The game received an early wake-up call as the Fire captain Razvan Cocis tested the vision of assistant referee Frank Anderson, hitting a shot off the crossbar and flirting with the goal line on the way down. Cocis hit the shot off the inside of his foot on a fourth-minute corner kick, but it was ruled to not have completely cleared the line.
As the game evolved Houston had three quality chances to take an early lead.
Will Bruin will be the most upset at his after scuffing a 13th-minute Giles Barnes ball wide. Barnes broke to the end line and played a ball back to the streaking forward, but his feet could catch up to his body, and he missed the open net wide left.
Joining Bruin with chances was Ricardo Clark, who had two volley attempts, one off a free kick at the penalty spot in the 21st minute and from distance three minutes later, but they both were left wanting more.
Alex opened his Dynamo account against his former team in the 56th minute, crashing the back post and knocking home a Brad Davis cross through a crowd in the box that Fire goalkeeper Sean Johnson had trouble corralling. Davis was making his return to the Dynamo XI after sitting out the last two matches with a bruised knee.
After Alex’s goal, the Fire pushed the pace, and nine minutes later Nyarko nearly drew the Fire even but the crossbar foiled his plans. Alone at the back corner on a redirected corner kick, Nyarko had a look at an open net but his header skimmed the bar to keep it 1-0. He changed that soon after.
In the 72nd minute, Nyarko ran onto a Greg Cochrane cross into the box and in the process slid into goalkeeper Joe Willis, starting for the ill Tyler Deric, creating a loose ball two yards from goal. Nyarko popped up and tapped the ball in to pull the game level.
Houston are back in action when they travel west to face former head coach Dominic Kinnear and the San Jose Earthquakes next Friday, while the Fire return home to host the Seattle Sounders July 11th.