By JEFFREY KRAUSE
BRIDGEVIEW, IL- On a night when the Chicago Fire needed a result badly to keep their playoff prospects strong, Patrick Nyarko helped deliver a dream start.
The rest of Nyarko's FIre teammates saw to it that the perfect start culminated in the ideal result.
Nyarko scored a first-minute goal that gave the Fire a lead they never relinquished. Midfielders Daniel Paladini and Alex provided two more goals as the Fire cruised to a 3-1 victory at Toyota Park. The victory moved the Fire into sole possession of third place in the Eastern Conference. The loss pushed Houston's winless streak to three matches.
Paladini returned to the starting lineup in place of injured Fire captain Logan Pause and scored in his second straight game. Sherjill MacDonald picked out a streaking Paladini for Chicago's second goal in the 21st minute. A Houston goal from Brian Ching in the 90th minute made the score 2-1, but the Dynamo got no closer as Brazilian midfielder Alex sealed the Fire victory with a last-minute tally.
Although Houston carried a 70 percent possession advantage in the match, they found it difficult to gain any flow offensively. Chicago's defense had a much stronger showing against Houston's forwards, with the centerback pairing of Arne Friedrich and Austin Berry continuing their stellar form in the middle. They effectively shut down Macoumba Kandji and Will Bruin and snuffed out the Houston attack.
Houston's only goal would come in the 90th minute, as a Brad Davis corner kick found Brian Ching, who's header would make its way by Chicago goalkeeper Sean Johnson and prevent a shutout in an otherwise stellar performance.
What did you think of the match? Starting to see Chicago as a serious contender for the top spot in the East? Wondering whether the Dynamo can turn things around?
Share your thoughts below.