The Chicago Fire and their coach, Frank Klopas, came into Sunday night’s game needing a win. Less than one minute into the game, they were well on their way.
A Patrick Nyarko goal off a Dynamo turnover got the fans happy barely after the opening kick. The Fire’s second-fastest goal (47 seconds) in team history was just the beginning of what they had in store for the Houston Dynamo in their 3-1 win.
An excited Toyota Park crowd of 17,007 watched one of the Fire’s most aggressively played games to date. If Nyarko’s goal struck a match, a following goal by Daniel Paladini in the 19th minute of play ignited the flame.
Paladini used a deke to get Dynamo goalkeeper Tally Hall out of position for the score. The goal was set up with a crisp pass from the active, though unlucky, Alvarez Fernandez to put the Fire ahead 2-0. The Fire never looked back.
During the first half, the Fire attacked on every possession; their passes were effective and they showed patience to set up for additional scoring opportunities.
One of those opportunities came when Fernandez received a well-placed pass from forward Sherjill MacDonald. The midfielder proceeded to set his feet for the shot but he kicked it too hard as the ball flew to the right side of the net.
On another scoring opportunity, Fernandez had an additional chance to put the Fire ahead 3-0. Instead of passing the ball to MacDonald, Fernandez kicked the ball directly into the arms of Hall.
The first half could have gone a different way had a Dynamo goal by forward Macoumba Kandji been allowed. Kandji appeared to have hit the ball with his arm so the game officials disallowed the goal.
It was the only true threat the Dynamo had in the first half.
The second half had its share of highlights. This included four athletic saves from Fire goalkeeper Sean Johnson. There was a moment during the 72nd minute of play when Johnson had a succession of diving saves. This threw the beloved fans in “Section 8” into a frenzy.
The Dynamo would indeed score late in the 89th minute, thus ruining Johnson's bid for a shutout.
The Fire answered with a goal from Alex in extra time, giving the Fire a 3-1 victory, improving their record at home to 10-2-2.
Saturday was coach Klopas’ 45th birthday.
Ernest Shepard is a Bleacher Report featured columnist; all observations were acquired first-hand.
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