Ching's hat trick sinks the Fire in Houston

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Ching's hat trick sinks the Fire in Houston

Saturday, Aug. 21, 201010:23 PM

Associated Press
HOUSTON (AP)Brian Ching scored the last of his three goals in the 85th minute to help the Houston Dynamo win for the first time in 11 games with a 4-3 win over the Chicago Fire on Saturday night.

After Wilman Condes equalizer for Chicago in the 81st minute, the Hawaiian-born forward secured the win for Houston when he headed a corner kick by Richard Mulrooney just inside the right post four minutes later.
HOUSTON - AUGUST 21: Goalkeeper Sean Johnson 25 of the Chicago Fire goes up over Brian Ching 25 of the Houston Dynamo for a save in the first half at Robertson Stadium on August 21, 2010 in Houston, Texas. Johnson lost control of the ball when he came down and Ching put the ball in the back of the net for a goal.

Lovel Palmer scored his second goal of the season and Mulrooney was involved in all four goals for the Dynamo, whose last win was 2-0 over D.C. United on May 22.

Ching recorded his first hat trick since the franchises first game in April 2006 and now has six MLS goals in 2010.

Ching used a left-footed shot to give the Dynamo a 1-0 lead in the 31st minute after Fire goalkeeper Sean Johnson dropped a corner kick by Mulrooney. That gave the Dynamo its first lead since July 1 at Toronto.

Palmer extended Houstons lead to 2-0 in the 50th minute, when the Dynamo scored on yet another set piece. But the Fire made it 2-1 when Calen Carr powered a shot by Pat Onstad in the 55th minute.

Ching scored a pretty bicycle-kick goal four minutes later to give Houston a 3-1 lead. Bobby Boswell hit the crossbar, but the rebound ended up just outside the goalkeeper box. With his back toward the net, Ching jumped and scored his second goal of the night in the 59th minute.

The Fire got within a goal in the 59th minute when Boswell rolled an own goal by Onstad to make it 3-2.

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Dax McCarty tallies assist against former team, but Fire still lose to Red Bulls

Dax McCarty tallies assist against former team, but Fire still lose to Red Bulls

After all the talk of Dax McCarty's return to Red Bull Arena, he delivered in the match on Saturday, but it wasn't enough for the Chicago Fire.

McCarty had an assist against his former team that tied things up in the second half, but the New York Red Bulls got a game-winner from Kemar Lawrence in the 71st minute in a 2-1 victory against the Fire.

After Bradley Wright Phillips gave the Red Bulls (5-3-1, 16 points) the lead in the first half, the Fire (3-3-2, 11 points) went into the locker room trailing despite having some quality chances to score. Nemanja Nikolic had a pair of open shots in the first half, but couldn't beat goalkeeper Luis Robles either time. Luis Solignac scuffed an open shot from close range as well.

In the second half, the match become wide open with both teams having plenty of shots. McCarty keyed the Fire's breakthrough by drawing defenders in the box and weaving free to set up Nikolic, who this time finished with a first-touch shot.


The Red Bulls didn't take long to respond though. Just 12 minutes after Nikolic's goal Kemar Lawrence scored down the left wing with a tight-angle shot that found the side netting and put the Red Bulls back on top.

The Fire could not find another equalizer and suffered a second straight loss. The Fire finished with the edge in possession (51 percent), shots (14 to 10) and shots on target (5 to 3).

David Accam returned to the starting lineup on the left wing in place of Michael de Leeuw. De Leeuw subbed into the match after the Red Bulls went up 2-1 and the Fire switched to a 4-4-2 formation.

The Fire fell outside the playoff spots in the Eastern Conference with the loss. Next Saturday the Fire visit the LA Galaxy.

Preview: Dax McCarty faces old team with Fire on CSN

Preview: Dax McCarty faces old team with Fire on CSN

An obvious storyline for Saturday's Chicago Fire match at the New York Red Bulls is the return of former Red Bulls captain Dax McCarty to his previous home, but does his familiarity with the opposition give the Fire a boost?

McCarty and the Fire take on the Red Bulls on Saturday at Red Bull Arena. CSN has the live coverage, beginning at 6 p.m. with Fire Pregame Live.

In a league where most teams don't have a distinct or discernible style the Red Bulls have been identifiable as a team that typically wins the possession battle and punishes mistakes with a high-press since former Fire player Jesse Marsch took over as coach in 2015.

"I was a part of that system for the last two years and obviously I guess you can describe it as when Jesse came in and started coaching the system changed and became very distinct," McCarty said.

McCarty played with the Red Bulls for five and a half seasons and was the captain under Marsch. His familiarity with the players and the system could help the Fire, although he insisted it's nothing most teams can't see on film anyway.

"Obviously I know a couple little inside details that they try to do that most teams can see on video," McCarty said. "There's not going to be any real secrets. I think that they're very good at what they do and they're very good at the way that they play and not many teams are capable of playing with them. We're going to have to do a few things tactically to make sure that we're ready and prepared for everything that they throw at you because they have a very good style of play that's led them to be one of the best teams in the league over the past couple years.

"I'll be able to tell the guys a little bit about each guy that they're playing against, maybe one-on-one battles."

[RELATED: Dax McCarty ready to 'soak in the moment' in return to Red Bull Arena]

The Fire (3-2-2, 11 points) have struggled on the road so far this season with two losses, both by multiple goals, and a draw. The Red Bulls (4-3-1, 13 points) are 3-0-1 at home and had the most home wins in the league (13) last season. Last season, the Fire lost 1-0 at Red Bull Arena and played to a 2-2 draw against the Red Bulls at Toyota Park.

Coach Veljko Paunovic said McCarty's knowledge of the opponent will supplement what he and the staff learned from last year's matches.

"Of course it helps, but we also played against the Red Bulls so many times and saw them play against other teams," Paunovic said. "It's a very good and very well known opponent that we have in front. We believe we know their strengths. It's always helpful that you can have a player who knows their system like Dax and played in that system and performed very well."

The Fire don't yet have a clear style under Paunovic, especially with so many new key figures in this year's team. The three-man central midfield of Bastian Schweinsteiger, McCarty and Juninho is still figuring things out and even Schweinsteiger recently said he is playing at 70 percent fitness.

Paunovic does believe he has seen the team progress in that area though.

"I think we can notice that the team is more comfortable with the ball, more confident and creates more opportunities," he said. "We still have to do a better job converting these opportunities, especially on the road. I think on the road we have to manage better the games, especially to not concede early goals."

The Fire have allowed a goal in the first half hour of all three road games this season. McCarty is hoping to see the Fire’s first road win come at his former home stadium.

"We haven't been very good on the road this year," McCarty said. "There's nothing like going into a really good team's home and getting your first win of the year. That's kind of the way I'm trying to look at it and the way that I'm trying to talk to the guys about it. If we're going to be successful this year we can't just be good at home. We have to win on the road, too. What a better environment, what a better game to get that first win and try to be good and make sure that we leave Red Bull Arena with something."

Chicago Fire at New York Red Bulls

Where: Red Bull Arena, Harrison, N.J.

TV: CSN

When: Coverage begins at 6 p.m. with Fire Pregame Live

Records: Fire (3-2-2, 11 points), Red Bulls (4-3-1, 13 points)