A pair of first half goals were all the Houston Dynamo and Chicago Fire could muster in a 1-1 draw Saturday afternoon at Robertson Stadium.
In a game that lacked excitement in the way of shots, Houston midfielder Colin Clark opened the scoring in the 33rd minute, before former Dynamo forward Dominic Oduro slipped the equalizer in for his 12th goal of the season.
The draw does little to help either team’s playoff chances, and strikes a blow to Chicago’s hopes. The Fire, who were without five regular starters in the starting lineup, remain out of the Wild Card zone on 37 points, while Houston remain in 3rd place in the East, tied on points (43) with Philadelphia, who play on Sunday.
Both teams entered the match looking to make a move in the playoff race. The Dynamo, in third place in the East, hoped to leapfrog back up the standings, while the Fire, winners of five out of their previous six, looked to continue their late charge for the postseason.
Few chances materialized though as neither side seemed comfortable pushing the pace.
The first chance came in the 20th minute, when Houston’s Bobby Boswell hammered a header off a corner kick that forced Chicago goalkeeper Sean Johnson to make a diving save to the lower right corner.
Then, Clark broke through in the 33rd minute. Brad Davis’s corner kick to the near post deflected off a Chicago defender in a scrum, and the ball fell to Clark, who swept it into goal for his fourth on the year.
Houston kept control after the goal and found space behind the Chicago backline several times. The best chance came in the 36th minute when Carlo Costly, after making a sharp run through the box, reached a Luiz Camargo cross. But he could not get his shot on target.
The miss would prove costly. Seven minutes later, the speedy Oduro won a foot race with Boswell to a through ball and beat Hall to the far post with the outside of his right foot to even the game.
Oduro, who was shipped out after missing a sitter earlier this year, celebrated by shushing the crowd and pointing to his name on the back of his jersey.
Combined the teams mustered just seven shots in the second half, and only two tested the goalkeepers. Houston came to life in stoppage time, though, when both Davis and Brian Ching missed just wide to the far left post.
The Dynamo will next travel to Portland to face the Timbers on October 14 after MLS takes a break for the FIFA international date next weekend. The Fire fly west to take on Seattle in the US Open Cup final on Tuesday then return to MLS play October 12 against FC Dallas.
HOU -- Colin Clark 4 (unassisted) 33
CHI -- Dominic Oduro 12 (Baggio Husidic 2) 43
Chicago Fire -- Sean Johnson, Michael Videira, Jalil Anibaba, Cory Gibbs, Gonzalo Segares, Logan Pause, Baggio Husidic (Pavel Pardo 66), Daniel Paladini, Corben Bone (Marco Pappa 73), Dominic Oduro (Patrick Nyarko 51), Diego Chaves.
Substitutes Not Used: Orr Barouch, Dan Gargan, Josip Mikulic, Jon Conway.
Houston Dynamo -- Tally Hall, Andre Hainault, Bobby Boswell, Geoff Cameron, Corey Ashe (Jermaine Taylor 46), Colin Clark (Danny Cruz 75), Luiz Camargo, Adam Moffat, Brad Davis, Brian Ching, Carlo Costly (Calen Carr 60).
Substitutes Not Used: Will Bruin, Hunter Freeman, Je-Vaughn Watson, Tyler Deric.
CHI -- Gonzalo Segares (caution; Reckless Foul) 68
Referee: Edvin Jurisevic
Referee's Assistants: Corey Parker; Steven Taylor
4th Official: Armando Villarreal
Time of Game: 1:52