HOUSTON (Aug. 3, 2019) – The Chicago Fire Soccer Club (6-10-9, 27 points) defeated the Houston Dynamo (9-11-3, 30 points) 1-0 on the road at BBVA Stadium on Saturday night. With the victory, the Fire recorded its sixth clean sheet, which ranks tied as the fourth-most in MLS this season.
After controlling possession to start the match, the Fire almost opened up the scoring in the eighth minute when forward CJ Sapong laid the ball off to midfielder Aleksandar Katai, who hit a powerful effort just wide of the target.
In the 17th minute, the Fire created another strong opportunity to score after regaining possession near midfield. After recovering the ball, midfielder Dax McCarty quickly played it to midfielder Nicolás Gaitán, who slipped a pass into space for Katai. The Serbian international charged into the 18-yard box and fired a left-footed attempt that went just wide (WATCH).
Kronholm faced his first shot on target in the 22nd minute. Houston forward Mauro Manotas’ right footed shot from outside the 18-yard box forced the German-American goalkeeper to react quickly and dive to his left to push the ball way from danger (WATCH). Kronholm, who made four clutch saves in the game, recorded his second consecutive match with a clean sheet. He was named the Heineken Man of the Match.
The Fire eventually took the lead in the final minute of first-half stoppage time when a well-orchestrated set piece created the game’s lone goal. After receiving the ball from midfielder Brandt Bronico after a short corner, Gaitán curled a threatening cross into the 18-yard box to forward Nemanja Nikolić, who connected with the ball off the bounce and redirected it over goalkeeper Tyler Deric (WATCH). The assist marked Gaitán’s ninth of the season, which ranks as the most on the team and is tied for fourth best in MLS.
With Nikolić’s goal, the Fire entered the halftime break up 1-0, while also holding a 9-4 advantage in overall shots and a 53-47 percent lead in the possession battle.
In the 60th minute, the Fire nearly scored their second goal of the game. A set piece taken by Gaitán was directed towards defender Francisco Calvo who played a perfect header to McCarty’s left foot. The American international’s shot incredibly hit both posts and stayed out. The rebound fell to Sapong whose shot was blocked by Dynamo defender and former Fire player DaMarcus Beasley. The ball then bounced out to Fire defender Bastian Schweinsteiger whose side volley went wide of the far post (WATCH).
In second half stoppage time, as the Dynamo pressed to level the score, Kronholm – once again – came up with a huge save to secure the clean sheet. Houston forward Romell Quioto found space in the midfield and was able to get off a blistering shot from outside the 18-yard box. Kronholm leaned to his left and made the save while falling to both knees (WATCH).
The game kicked off approximately 32 minutes late due to severe weather around the venue.
Looking ahead, the Fire will return to SeatGeek Stadium to host the Montreal Impact on Saturday, Aug. 10. Beginning at 8:00 p.m. CT, the match will be broadcast live on ESPN+ and transmitted locally in Spanish on Univision Radio 93.5 Latino Mix.
Chicago Fire 1:0 Houston Dynamo
CHI – Nikolić (7) (Gaitán) (9) 45’+3’
HOU – Elis (Caution) 44’
HOU – Vera (Caution) 46’
CHI – Bronico (Caution) 53’
CHI – McCarty (Caution) 67’
Chicago Fire: GK Kronholm, D Kappelhof, D Schweinsteiger, D Calvo, D Bornstein, M McCarty©, M Bronico, M Katai (Campos 90’+5’), M Gaitán, M Sapong (Mihailović 85’), F Nikolić (Frankowski 58’)
Subs not used: Sánchez, Marcelo, Lillard, Moreno
Shots: 15 Shots on goal: 3 Fouls: 13 Offsides: 1 Corners: 2
Houston Dynamo: GK Deric, D Delagarza (Hairston 86’), D Figueroa, D Struna, D Beasley©, M García (McNamara 81’), M Vera, M Rodríguez (Quioto 62’), M Elis, M Martínez, F Manotas
Subs not used: Willis, Fuenmayor, Cerén, Lundkvist
Shots: 14 Shots on goal: 4 Fouls: 13 Offsides: 2 Corners: 5
Referee: Ramy Touchan
Assistant Referees: Corey Rockwell, Chris Elliott
Fourth Official: Ismir Pekmic
VAR: Hilario Grajeda