Patrick Nyarko
Brian Kersey Chicago Fire

Early strikes power Fire past Dynamo

BRIDGEVIEW, Ill. — A first-minute goal from Patrick Nyarko and a stoppage-time blast from Alex punctuated the Chicago Fire’s 3-1 win over the Houston Dynamo at Toyota Park on Sunday evening.

Daniel Paladini scored the other goal for the Fire, while second-half sub Brian Ching made it interesting, striking his first goal for the Dynamo since July 28.

The three points lift the Fire into 3rd place in the Eastern Conference, two points ahead of the Dynamo, who were playing their second match in three days. Houston earned a 1-1 draw away to Honduran club Olimpia in CONCACAF Champions League action on Thursday.

While the Dynamo were traveling to Central America, the Fire were enjoying a 10-day break, and the sharper team was easy to discern early on. Despite controlling 67 percent of possession on the evening, Houston gave up two early goals after mistakes in the midfield, and were never able to battle In the first minute, Nyarko intercepted Andre Hainault’s pass across the middle in his own half. The Ghanaian broke in on goal and poked his shot past goalkeeper Tally Hall.

The Dynamo thought they had equalized in the 13th minute, when Macoumba Kandji looked as if he had capitalized on a mistake from goalkeeper Sean Johnson. But the rebound was judged to have gone off Kandji’s upper arm.

The Fire capitalized on another midfield takeaway in the 18th minute, when Alvaro Fernandez took possession and found Sherjill MacDonald at the edge of the box. MacDonald sent a cross to Daniel Paladini, who slotted his shot past Hall for his second goal of the season.

Fernandez almost put the Fire up three in the 24th minute when Paladini found him wide open just outside the six-yard box.

After the break, both teams settled into a midfield tussle, though the Dynamo enjoyed more of the possession. They would finish the evening with 67% of the ball, and they created two good chances.

Ching subbed on in the 63rd minute as Dynamo coach Dominic Kinnear inserted more attacking power. The striker’s flicked header in the 74th minute forced goalkeeper Sean Johnson to punch the ball away from danger. Je-Vaughn Watson then forced another athletic save out of Johnson in the 90th minute, and the ball went out for a corner kick.

Midfielder Brad Davis found Ching on the ensuing corner kick, and the veteran halved the lead with a well-placed header.

Fire playmaker Alex then put the game out of reach in stoppage time with a blast from distance that ricocheted in off the inside of the right post. It was the Brazilian’s first goal in a Fire uniform.

The Dynamo, winless in their last six matches, return home to play Real Salt Lake next Thursday.

The Fire have another 10-day break from MLS action before heading to Toronto on September 12th. Men of the Match

Rank Player What We Saw
1 Patrick Nyarko Pappa who? The Ghanaian was in attack mode from the first minute -- when he scored his goal -- causing all kinds of problems for Dynamo
2 Arne Friedrich Directed the defense, stepped up impressively a few times to apply pressure in the midfield
3 Brad Davis Stymied often, but tried to work his magic in the midfield; perfect set piece on Houston goal