The idea was to have two MLS teams play against each other on Sunday but the Houston Dynamo and Chicago Fire just barely got some soccer in. Large thunderstorms led to the match being delayed at the 13th minute mark. The match was called off all together in the 66th minute. Chicago left the field very frustrated with the circumstances in Sunday night's 1-1 draw.
Imagine how Arne Friedrich must be feeling after his MLS debut. "I have never seen this before. I don't know if this happened before in America, but both teams had to deal with it. I guess for both teams it was not easy, but for me it would better if we could played the last 25 minutes. "
Pavel Pardo also expressed disbelief about the downpour. “This is hard for us. It’s the first time I ever saw this in my life, and it’s hard. They stopped the game, we were delayed for a long time, then it was delayed again and finally called. It’s hard also because we know we are a good team at home, and when we play at home we are very dangerous. It’s difficult because it’s like they are taking two points from us. It’s hard for us to accept this, but these are rules. “
You can't argue with the fact that at the end of the season, the Chicago Fire will have played 24 less minutes at home than any other team (barring a similarly odd storm happening to someone else). Sometimes that's the breaks but let's look at the schedule for just a second. Houston and Chicago have each played 4 (3 1/2?) games now. Meanwhile, most other clubs have played 6 or even 7 games. Teams like Sporting KC have hosted 4 home games and they are rocking with a game every week. Houston and Chicago are still struggling to regain their form from a sporadic schedule.
There is no reason the Chicago Fire and the Houston Dynamo couldn't have played this game last weekend. Both teams were idle after all. Schedule this matchup last week, then take any matchup this weekend, switch Houston with the away team and send that team to Chicago. That's solution number one to keep the teams at an even amount of games played.
If that was impossible, can someone explain to me how this game got scheduled for Sunday at 6:00 PM? No doubt calling off the game was in part due to the fact that this was a Sunday and not a Saturday evening. People are much more patient with a Saturday evening. Ticket sales are better for Sunday and weekday evening games when they take place during the summer. If these two teams really needed to get a full game in, why not schedule this game for 1:00 or 2:00? You can move back kick-off time to work around storms if need be. It's incredibly annoying that Chicago is still trying to find its groove while even the teams that had CONCACAF Champions League games to work around have played more games than Chicago.
Houston's goal was a result of Chicago still searching for form.
The Dynamo's Brian Ching found Will Bruin in the 24th minute of play. I believe this was the result of Arne Friedrich being new to the defense. Neither Friedrich or Jalil Anibaba picked up a streaking Will Bruin when Ching had the ball. It looks like Friedrich should have gone with Bruin instead of Anibaba coming over. If Anibaba had gone over to Bruin, this would have opened up a wide amount of space for two Dynamo players to Ching's right. Friedrich went to stay on Ching despite the fact that Dan Gargan was oncoming and Pavel Pardo had just arrived in the area.
If Friedrich has more time with his teammates, I don't think he makes that mistake. His performance was pretty good overall. The play that led to the goal summed up the only problem I saw: Friedrich tried to do too much at times. He probably doesn't think a whole lot of his teammates based on what he is used to playing alongside in Europe. Hopefully he can quickly develop some trust. European players get in trouble when they overestimate how bad their MLS opposition is and then underestimate how good their MLS teammates are.
Chicago's goal was scored off a Pavel Pardo free kick that deflected off Logan Pause's back in the 27th minute. Critics will say the Fire got lucky. I'll say I'll take that goal after a season off crossbar shots in 2011. There's nothing wrong with a little bit of luck. The Fire will need at least 7 or 8 goals from set pieces if they want to be legitimate contenders in 2012.
The Fire had more dangerous opportunities on goal but Houston won more duels in the midfield and bossed Chicago around. Sebastian Grazzini took the brunt of the challenges and referee Geoff Gamble was fine with that. Dynamo aggression met some standard of non-foul. Patrick Nyarko and Marco Pappa received yellow cards in possible attempts for retaliation. I'm beginning to think that Pappa and Nyarko are just not compatible to be on the field at the same time. Grazzini needs help fighting off players and neither Pappa or Nyarko can find an effective way to get this done.
Next up for Chicago is Toronto FC on Saturday, April 21 at 2:30 PM CST. TFC is 0-0-5 so they will be quite desperate at home. Chicago shouldn't have trouble creating chances. Houston was an inferior team with their midfield tonight and Chicago was able to play their game. TFC is playing like an inferior team. Hopefully Chicago will be able get things started this season once and for all. As I hinted in the comments of the gamethread yesterday, a different kind of kickstart is headed the team's way but his arrival probably won't be instantaneous.
- With his appearance in the match, veteran Fire attacker Patrick Nyarko became the 14th player in club history to tally 100 regular season appearances.
- Now into his 10th season in Chicago, Logan Pause's redirected effort in the 27th minute is the third of his Fire career. The club captain sits second behind C.J. Brown with 231 appearances.
- Following international duty with the U.S. U-23 team, Fire goalkeeper Sean Johnson made his first Fire appearance since a 3-2 victory over Columbus on October 22, 2011.
- Fire defender Gonzalo Segares moved into a tie with Jim Curtin for ninth all-time on the club's all-time regular season appearance list.
- Former Dynamo forward Dominic Oduro extended his run of playing in every regular season match since being traded to Chicago from Houston on March 23, 2011. Oduro has appeared in 37 consecutive regular season matches since joining the Fire.
Chicago Fire 1 - 1 Houston Dynamo
Chicago Fire: Sean Johnson; Dan Gargan, Arne Friedrich, Jalil Anibaba, Gonzalo Segares; Marco Pappa, Pavel Pardo, Logan Pause; Sebastian Grazzini; Patrick Nyarko, Dominic Oduro
Substitutes not used: Paolo Tornaghi, Austin Berry, Hunter Jumper, Daniel Paladini, Rafael Robayo, Federico Puppo, Orr Barouch
Houston Dynamo: Tally Hall; Andre Hainault, Geoff Cameron, Bobby Boswell, Jermaine Taylor; Je-Vaughn Watson, Nathan Sturgis, Luiz Camargo (Calen Carr 63'), Corey Ashe; Brian Ching, Will Bruin
Substitutes not used: Tyler Deric, Warren Creavalle, Kofi Sarkodie, Alex Dixon, Macoumba Kandji, Cam Weaver
HOU - Will Bruin (Brian Ching) 24'
CHI - Logan Pause (Pavel Pardo) 27'
CHI - Marco Pappa (caution) 49'
CHI - Patrick Nyarko (caution) 61'
Referee: Geoff Gamble
Assistants: Anthony Vasoli, Peter Balciunas
Fourth Official: Drew Fischer