Skip to content

Drilling down on: Houston Dynamo 2, at Chicago Fire 1

Nov 1, 2012, 12:00 AM EDT

Houston Dynamo v Chicago Fire - Knockout Round Getty Images

If you need one win on the road in Major League Soccer’s playoffs, you sure want Dominic Kinnear coaching your team.

For the second year in a row the Dynamo launched their post-season with a huge road win, this time as the No. 5 seed over No. 4 Chicago Fire at chilly Toyota Park.

Will Bruin had both goals, early on a corner kick and then straight-away after the break. Houston has to rest up quickly; up Sunday is a home match against Eastern Conference champion Sporting Kansas City.

Man of the Match: Will Bruin struggled when Houston asked him to play as a lone striker in a 4-3-3, but he sure looks comfortable when the Dynamo reverts to its tried-and-true 4-4-2. The Dynamo’s “Dancing Bear” scored both of the visitors’ goals by doing what Chicago Fire players mostly could not: ruthlessly finishing his chances in those decisive moments.

Threesome of knowledge: Things We Learned

Hard to say what was more at fault, Chicago’s questionable tactics or Chicago’s curious absence of urgency. It’s the playoffs, fellows! (Maybe that weak crowd had the home town men bummed out.)

Patrick Nyarko on the right and Chris Rolfe up the middle looked up for the job for Chicago. Any others? Not so much. And the Fire’s 4-2-3-1 just didn’t provide enough support. Chicago’s defensive shape generally worked, but Fire manager Frank Klopas sacrificed a lot for the sake of it.  Specifically, holding midfielders Pavel Pardo and Logan Pause proved redundant elements, rarely straying far enough forward to link up with and provide an additional option for Rolfe.

The result was a muted attack. By the time Klopas brought on Brazilian midfielder Alex for Pause at halftime and rearranged the look, it was too late.

Kinnear also used two defensive-minded midfielders. The difference was in Ricardo Clark’s positioning; he played ahead of Adam Moffat in more of a diamond, although he dropped back into a “flat” midfield when Chicago controlled the ball. But getting Clark  forward in his positioning was the tactical checkmate. Well, having Corey Ashe rampaging up and down the left side helped a lot, too.

Don’t blame Fire veteran center back Arne Friedrich for anything that happened. He was everything you’d expect of a man with all that experience, always in the right spots and winning everything coming his way.

Friedrich even supplied the big pass out of the back that led to Chicago’s late goal.

Klopas will do himself a huge favor by convincing the German veteran to stay around for another season.

Neither team’s right back covered himself in glory out there. Chicago’s Jalil Anibaba will remember this one as a Halloween horror. It certainly wasn’t his fault that he slipped while marking Bruin on Houston’s opening goal. Whether that shook his confidence or whether this just wasn’t his night afterward, hard to say. But … ooof!

He struggled to deal with Houston’s left side, Brad Davis coming inside and Ashe overlapping along the outside. Chicago needed to provide more cover, either from Patrick Nyarko or from one of the defensive midfielders. When there wasn’t, Anibaba either had to foul or he struggled to prevent the crosses.

For Houston, young Kofi Sarkodi’s night was a similar orgy of the unfortunate, bad passes, poor-one-on-one defending and failure to step up with the line quickly enough. He did, at least, demonstrate the recovery speed a few times to get himself out of the ditch.

(MORE: Dominic Kinnear pushed the right buttons)

Packaged for take-away

  • Houston manager Dominic Kinnear is now 11-7-4 in the MLS playoffs.
  • Houston didn’t play a perfect game either, but the Chicago Fire’s finishing simply was not as brutally efficient.
  • Chicago’s Sean Johnson is one of the U.S. international up-and-comers, but he sure didn’t look like one early, flubbing an attempted punch and spilling a long-ranged shot into rebound-danger territory.
  • Meanwhile, Houston’s Tally Hall had six saves generally added credibility to the argument that he deserves the national team calls more than Johnson or D.C. United’s Bill Hamid. (Although Hall is a bit older at 27.)
  • We beat on referee Baldomero Toledo on this blog quite a bit. So, only fair to say that he got on top of things early Wednesday, mostly kept the cards in his pocket and managed the match pretty well. He did fall back into the old Toledo habit of not calling fouls late, but it was still one of his better matches.
  • That killer goal for Houston right after second half kickoff started on a Gonzalo Segares give-away.
Latest Posts
  1. Petr Cech is giving Thibaut Courtois safety tips

    Oct 20, 2014, 8:40 AM EDT

    Chelsea v Arsenal - Premier League Getty Images

    The Chelsea backup is teaching his replacement how to stay safe from head injuries, which have affected both keepers.

  2. Premier League Playback: Liverpool can’t get rid of Luis Suarez hangover

    Oct 20, 2014, 8:00 AM EDT

    Queens Park Rangers v Liverpool - Premier League Getty Images

    PST’s Lead Writer and Editor takes an in-depth look at the PL during Week 8.

  3. Neil Warnock says Chelsea players influenced referee

    Oct 20, 2014, 7:43 AM EDT

    Crystal Palace v Chelsea - Premier League Getty Images

    In a game that saw both sides reduced to ten men, the Crystal Palace manager believes the referee could have done better.

  4. MUST SEE: Wesley Sneijder scores two wonder goals

    Oct 19, 2014, 11:38 PM EDT

    Galatasaray AS v RSC Anderlecht - UEFA Champions League Getty Images

    The Dutch midfielder scored off two ridiculous strikes to lead Galatasary over rivals Fenerbahce.

  5. MLS Sunday roundup: Seattle spoils Donovan’s last home game

    Oct 19, 2014, 11:05 PM EDT

    San Jose Earthquakes v Los Angeles Galaxy Getty Images

    The Sounders came from 2-0 down to steal a draw in Los Angeles at Landon Donovan’s final regular season home game.

  6. Bayern Munich bag six without allowing a single shot

    Oct 19, 2014, 10:13 PM EDT

    FC Bayern Muenchen v SV Werder Bremen - Bundesliga Getty Images

    Werder Bremen became the first team without a shot in a Bundesliga game as Bayern continues to cruise.

  7. Where does Sergio Aguero rank with the world’s best?

    Oct 19, 2014, 9:09 PM EDT

    Manchester City v Tottenham Hotspur - Premier League Getty Images

    The Argentinian forward is scoring goals at a blistering pace for Manchester City. Could he be the most lethal striker in Europe?

  8. La Liga and Serie A roundup: Ronaldo, Messi continue to dominate

    Oct 19, 2014, 8:15 PM EDT

    Levante UD v Real Madrid CF - La Liga Getty Images

    Catch up on all of this weekend’s action from Spain and Italy’s top flights.

  9. Sunderland goalkeeper wants to reimburse fans

    Oct 19, 2014, 7:07 PM EDT

    Southampton v Sunderland - Premier League Getty Images

    After an ugly 8-0 thrashing at Southampton, Vito Mannone said he will try to pay back fans who travelled to the game.

  10. Michael Bradley to Jurgen Klinsmann: ‘I have thick skin’

    Oct 19, 2014, 6:15 PM EDT

    USA Training & Press Conference - 2014 FIFA World Cup Getty Images

    The American international responded to Jurgen Klinsmann’s recent criticism of his return to the MLS.

  11. Malky Mackay likely to go unpunished over texting scandal

    Oct 19, 2014, 5:21 PM EDT

    Liverpool v Cardiff City - Premier League Getty Images

    The private nature of Mackay’s texts may help him steer clear of FA charges.

  12. Gareth Bale could miss Champions League clash vs. Liverpool

    Oct 19, 2014, 4:30 PM EDT

    Wales v Cyprus - EURO 2016 Qualifier Getty Images

    Bale did not play in Real Madrid’s match against Levante while nursing a muscle injury.

  13. WATCH: Argentinian 3rd division game abandoned after brawl, 12 red cards

    Oct 19, 2014, 3:35 PM EDT

    Screen Shot 2014-10-19 at 2.50.49 PM

    12 players sent off, an ambulance called, and riot police on the field. That was the carnage from an ugly brawl in Argentinian soccer.

  14. WATCH: Garry Monk claims Stoke penalty was “absolutely disgusting”

    Oct 19, 2014, 2:56 PM EDT

    Monk Getty Images

    The Swansea manager was furious following a soft penalty given for a foul on Victor Moses, suggesting his club has been hard done by referees plenty this season.

  15. Carlo Ancelotti delcares Raheem Sterling is “not in” Real Madrid’s plans

    Oct 19, 2014, 2:17 PM EDT

    Ancelotti Getty Images

    Raheem Sterling faced criticism from the British media for his fitness, but he was also rumored to be wanted by Real Madrid. Ancelotti says don’t believe the rumors.

  16. Redknapp condemns “overweight” Adel Taarabt in presser rant

    Oct 19, 2014, 1:35 PM EDT

    Redknapp Getty Images

    The QPR manager loved what he saw on the field at Loftus Road despite the loss. Off the field is a different story.

  17. Stoke 2-1 Swansea: Substitutes pick up three points for the Potters

    Oct 19, 2014, 12:53 PM EDT

    StokeCity Getty Images

    Jonathan Walters scored the winner off the bench as Stoke City grabbed a much-needed three points.

  18. VIDEO: Redknapp says QPR performance in 3-2 loss best he’s ever seen

    Oct 19, 2014, 12:26 PM EDT

    Redknapp AP

    Harry Redknapp was left flabbergasted after his side performed well but fell 3-2 after a bonkers last five minutes at Loftus Road.

  19. Liverpool must improve, and they know it, despite late win at QPR

    Oct 19, 2014, 11:52 AM EDT

    Rodgers and Liverpool performed poorly, as life after Luis is hitting the Reds hard. Getty Images

    Rodgers, Gerrard know the Reds were fortunate to leave West London with all three points. But they’ll take it.

  20. Watch Live: Stoke City vs. Swansea City (Lineups)

    Oct 19, 2014, 10:58 AM EDT

    Britannia Getty Images

    Two teams who have dipped in form look to get back on track at the Britannia.

Featured video

Week 8: Saturday PL recap