By JUSTIN FERGUSON
With the Houston Dynamo and the Chicago Fire both in the middle of the Eastern Conference standings, Saturday night’s clash at BBVA Compass Stadium was a great opportunity for one of the sides to grab a crucial three points in their hunt for a playoff spot.
But after 90 minutes of hard-fought soccer, both teams were forced to share honors after trading goals in the middle of the second half.
Cam Weaver broke lengthy personal and positional scoring droughts for Houston in the 61st minute, only to have the lead erased by a Mike Magee tap-in two minutes later for a 1-1 draw.
Weaver notched his first goal since May 2011 by finishing off an attack that he started. The 30-year-old forward sent a ball out to Corey Ashe, who then played it to Brad Davis for a cross in front of goal. The ball shot across the face of the goal for a side-step finish from Weaver, breaking the deadlock and giving the Dynamo forwards their first goal in two months.
The Dynamo thought they had opened the scoring much earlier in the match, but a controversial offside call ruled out a Bobby Boswell goal. Replays showed that Boswell was onside, but nearby teammate Ricardo Clark appeared to be too far forward.
Both sides created chances on goal in a more attack-oriented second half. Tally Hall made five saves in the match, and opposite number Paolo Tornaghi countered with three of his own, including a late denial of a Jason Johnson effort.
Hall could not do anything about Magee’s wide open chance shortly after the opener. Patrick Nyarko created space and sent a ball across the box for Magee, who tapped it in for his 13th goal of the season and his seventh as a member of the Fire.
Houston controlled possession and went after Tornaghi’s goal after Magee’s equalizer, but the defense held strong for the road point in one of the league’s toughest venues.
The Dynamo (8-6-6) will continue their home stand with a match against Columbus next Saturday night. The Fire (7-9-4), now five points back from the final playoff spot in the conference, will travel to face Philadelphia on the same day.