In the first of the Houston Dynamo’s two game road trip, the club faced league bottom Chicago Fire FC. Tab Ramos had warned that the Fire had been underperforming and it’s possible he knew something everyone else didn’t because the Fire poured it on Houston to the tune of 4-0 for the home side. Houston had some self-inflicted mistakes – largely playing with a lack of energy and poor shape – but the Fire were clinical with their finishing and found ways to create offense even while they were sitting back defensively.
The home side had the first dangerous moment of the game, but Marko Marić was able to keep the 2nd minute header out of the goal. The Dynamo had done well to win the ball in the midfield, but turnovers helped produce the early chance for the Fire. Great movement saw the ball move from the center to out wide before a perfect cross found the head of Robert Beric, but Marić made an excellent reaction save.
The Dynamo struggled to maintain possession with the Fire holding a relatively high line, but the Dynamo were sitting a little deeper behind the ball. This helped the Fire win back possession early and hurt Houston’s ability to involve their forwards.
While Houston had begun to find some possession in the final third, it would be Chicago to open up the scoring. Left back Jonathan Bornstein whipped in a ball from the wing and found an unmarked Beric who tapped the ball in the back of the net.
Things would get worse for the Dynamo with Chicago doubling their lead in the 23rd minute. Chicago again took advantage of winning the ball in the midfield and Ignacio Aliseda quickly played a ball to unleash Fabian Herbers who had just beaten his man José Bizama. Herbers slid in a shot which got passed the Houston goalkeeper.
The Dynamo were fortunate before the 30th minute with VAR providing some help. It appeared that Maynor Figueroa handled the ball in the box and head referee Marcos de Oliveira initially pointed to the spot. However, after a quick look on the monitor the center official decided no penalty which provided a spark for the Dynamo who picked up their energy after the call reversal.
However the Fire made it 3-0 before halftime with Álvaro Medrán getting a solo goal. He got free at the halfway line and outmuscled Kiki Struna and Darwin Cerén to go 1v1 with Marko Marić. He calmly put it passed the Dynamo keeper to increase frustrations for Houston.
VAR was again on Houston’s side as it appeared Chicago added a fourth in the first half. However, after review it was determined a player was in front of Marić in an offside position when the ball was kicked which is interfering with the keeper even if he wasn’t involved on the play.
The Dynamo began the second half with a triple substitution – one at least partially based around potential yellow card accumulation suspensions – and it seemed to provide a huge boost of energy early on.
As the half went on, the Dynamo continued to look improved over their first half performance, but while Chicago began to sit deeper the support in the offense just wasn’t enough to get a ball over the line. The Fire, despite sitting deeper, found some success by transitioning the ball quickly.
Substitute Mauro Manotas hit the woodwork in the 70th minute. He got the ball free on the corner of the 18 yard box and went near post catching Chicago goalkeeper Bobby Shuttleworth off guard, but it hit the lower post. The ball would eventually get cleared for a corner which the Dynamo couldn’t capitalize on.
In the 87th minute Kiki Struna brought down C.J. Sapong on the edge of the box earning a yellow card which will see him suspended next outing. The center official ruled that he was taken down in the box and was awarded a penalty. Marić guessed correctly on Sapong and made the save, but VAR ruled that he had jumped off his line early so Sapong got another chance. This time Marić guessed the wrong way and Sapong’s penalty made it 4-0.
The final whistle would blow and the Dynamo would lose a pretty frustrating game. Tonight’s game was dominated by a lethargic midfield which suffocated the ability of the forwards to impact the game and there were some questionable decisions by our defenders, but credit to the Chicago Fire for executing their game plan on their end.
Next up for the Dynamo is their second part of their road trip as they take on Nashville SC this Saturday September 26th at 2:30 PM CT.
15’ CHI: Robert Beric (assisted by Jonathan Bornstein)
23’ CHI: Fabian Herbers (assisted by Ignacio Aliseda)
40’ CHI: Álvaro Medrán
89’ CHI: C.J. Sapong (penalty kick)
63’ CHI: Mauricio Pineda (yellow card)
70’ CHI: Bobby Shuttleworth (yellow card)
83’ HOU: Ariel Lassiter (yellow card)
89’ Marko Marić (yellow card)
Houston Dynamo (4-3-3): Marko Marić; Adam Lundqvist, Maynor Figueroa, Kiki Struna, José Bizama; Memo Rodríguez (HT Nico Lemoine), Matías Vera (HT Oscar Boniek García), Darwin Cerén (78’ Tomás Martínez); Darwin Quintero (64’ Mauro Manotas), Christian Ramirez, Niko Hansen (HT Ariel Lassiter)
Chicago Fire FC (4-2-3-1): Bobby Shuttleworth; Jonathan Bornstein (74’ Miguel Ángel Navarro), Mauricio Pineda, Francisco Calvo, Boris Sekulic; Gastón Giménez, Álvaro Medrán (74’ Brandt Bronico); Djordje Mihailovic (63’ Elliot Collier), Ignacio Aliseda, Fabian Herbers (87’ Michael Azira); Robert Beric (74’ C.J. Sapong)