Saturday, April 23, 2011
Posted: 9:47 p.m. Updated: 11:24 p.m.
By Dieter Kurtenbach
Fire head coach Carlos de los Cobos sat with his shoulders slumped in disappointment, perhaps indicating the heat of the seat he was sitting on, as he addressed the media after the Fires 1-1 draw against the Houston Dynamo Saturday at Toyota Park.
"Its a shame, because we could win this match, de los Cobos said. But this is soccer. We need to keep working.
An 83rd minute equalizer off a header by Houston's Bobby Boswell extended the Chicago Fires winless streak to four games, and kept the Dynamo unbeaten in their last five contests.
Chicago played with fire in the final half-hour, allowing a dozen close-range opportunities to the all-out-attacking Dynamo. The Dynamo were unable to convert on the chances, thanks to opportunistic clears by Logan Pause, Yamith Cuesta and Jalil Anibaba.
Boswells goal came off the Dynamos tenth and final corner of the game. With the Dynamos offensive game plan being one that capitalizes on set pieces, and the Fires lackluster second-half defense, the equalizer could have been considered inevitable.
We knew they would take advantage of those kind of balls, set pieces, de los Cobos said. We worked on this in our training...we tried to solve the problems, and generally we did good work in the box, but one of these chances they took advantage of a very good ball. Its a difficult situation for us.
A difficult situation indeed, as the Fire - a team desperate for wins - let two points get away from them at home. De los Cobos knew it, the players knew it, the fans knew it. Despite the Fire earning a point in the standings with the draw, Toyota Park carried the air of a loss.
Yeah, its disappointing, Fire goalkeeper Jon Conway said. We put ourselves in a position to win and we werent able to come through.
The Fire scored their goal in the 18th minute Diego Chves fourth of the season. A Houston turnover at mid-pitch left Marco Pappa with acres to work along the right side. Twenty yards out, Pappa was taken down by a swarm of Houston defenders, popping the ball free. Chaves picked up possession and went unabated at goal, powering a shot past Houston goalkeeper Tally Hall.
The Fire were tested only once in the first half by the Dynamo attack. In the 23rd minute, Houston striker Will Bruin beats a sliding Josip Mikulic into the box, chipped a shot at a tough angle over Conway. The ball appeared to be spinning towards the back post of an open net, but Cuesta cleared the ball over the crossbar. The subsequent corner was cleared by the Fire.
The Fire dominated possession through the first hour of the game, with the Houston defense collapsing into the box under the pressure of the Chicago attack.
The Fires bugaboo, missed breakaways, appeared again in the 66th minute when Patrick Nyarkos sliding through ball sprung Dominic Oduro along the left sideline. One-on-one with Hall, Oduro shot from 12 yards out, ringing the crossbar with his attempt.
De los Cobos said that Oduros missed opportunity was the turning point in the game.
We had a very good chance to score the second goal, and the situation was changed, de los Cobos said bluntly. The last part of the second half, we dont play good.
After scoring late in the Fires 2-1 loss to the Los Angeles Galaxy, Orduro earned his first start in a Fire uniform. He did not disappoint, matching the level of energy Gastn Puerari usually brings to the striker role, but adding size and strength, the Dynamo couldnt match up with the Ghanaian forward.
Anibaba, the rookie rightback, and Oduro were taken out in the 76th and 83rd minute respectively. The two first-year Fire players had their best games in a Chicago uniform. Anibaba was solid under constant pressure on the backline and was confident in his ability to move forward and create plays.
The draw will further the clamor over de los Cobos. At the end of a disappointing 2010 season, de los Cobos public support was down. Four straight games without a win in 2011 will not do anything to increase confidence, and with rumors bubbling again, that MLS legend and former Chivas USA and Kansas City Wizards coach Preki is in the Chicago area, a bracing win cannot come soon enough for de los Cobos.
His teams next chance to win will come on the road next Saturday in Commerce City, Colorado, where the Fire will take on the defending MLS Cup champion Colorado Rapids.