Fire, Dynamo finish in scoreless draw

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Fire, Dynamo finish in scoreless draw

The Fires three-game winning streak is history, but the scoreless draw garnered against the Houston Dynamo in a Tuesday night road match wasnt all bad.

At least it kept the Fire (8-5-4) unbeaten in four games and solidly in fourth place in the Eastern Conference. The Fire earned 10 points in its last four matches and went 3-2-1 in six straight against Eastern Conference rivals.

"Every time you are on the road and you can walk away with a point its good," said Fire coach Frank Klopas after his team hit the midway point in its 34-game Major League Soccer schedule. "Now we are back home for two games, and its important for us to push that situation and try to get some wins. Im happy with the performance of the guys."

He should especially be happy with the performance of 23-year-old goalkeeper Sean Johnson, who is playing better with each game after getting a slow start to the season due in part to national team commitments.

Johnson needed to make only two saves, but he was in charge defensively in earning his third shutout of the season.

"For 90 minutes we fought and to come away with a result without giving up a goal on the road is huge," said Johnson. "We will take the point."

The Houston match was the first of two back-to-back against the MLS Cup finalists of 2011. The defending champion Los Angeles Galaxy (6-9-2) comes to Toyota Park on Sunday. The Galaxy, which hosted the Philadelphia Union on Fourth of July, started slowly but had a three-game winning streak before losing 4-3 to the San Jose Earthquakes at Stanford Stadium last Saturday. The Quakes (11-4-3) are the best team in MLS with 36 points, three more than Eastern Conference leader D.C. United.

In earning the tie at Houston, the Fire stayed four points ahead of the fifth-place Dynamo (6-5-6) in the East. Playoff-watching is appropriate going into the second half of the regular season, as the Fire out of postseason play the last two years is five points behind United, three behind second-place New York and one back of third-place Sporting Kansas City in the East. D.C. has played 18 games, the Fire and Red Bulls 17 and SKC 16.

The Fire got through road matches at SKC and Houston without Argentine midfielder Sabastian Grazzini, whose status remains uncertain for the Galaxy visit on Sunday. Klopas, acknowledging the hot playing conditions of the previous two games in the middle of a three-games-in-10-nights stretch, held Arne Friedrich, the veteran German defender, out of the Dynamo match and substituted for two of his key offensive players early. Alex came in for Dominic Oduro after only 58 minutes and Marco Pappa came out in the 72nd, Orr Barouch replacing him. Oduro has been a workhorse, having played in all 50 matches since the Fire acquired him in a trade with the Dynamo last season.

The scoreless match marked only the fourth time the Fire has been blanked this season. The clubs only other scoreless match came May 9 against Real Salt Lake. Also of note, the Dynamo has yet to lose (4-0-3) since moving into new BBVA Compass Stadium on May 12.

Sundays match could mean a rare appearance by iconic David Beckham, who has played just twice the last time in 2008 -- at Toyota Park. The former England captain sat out the Galaxys match on Wednesday for yellow card point accumulations.

The Fire expects a different type of game vs. L.A. than the last two matches both on the road against conference rivals in hot weather.

"These last couple games we played smart and picked our moments going forward," said Patrick Nyarko. "At home its going to be a different story, because at home were going to push the game offensively."

The Fire is 5-1-2 in Bridgeview, its best start through eight home games since moving to Toyota Park in 2006.

Chicago native Brandon McCoy returns home for McDonald's All-American Game

Chicago native Brandon McCoy returns home for McDonald's All-American Game

The 2017 McDonald's All-American Game will be without an Illinois high school basketball player for the second consecutive year.

While the local drought for elite IHSA talent continues, this year's McDonald's game at least has a Chicago native in the mix as 7-foot big man Brandon McCoy is returning home to participate in the game. McCoy is considered the No. 15 prospect in the country according to Rivals.com.

A native of the West Side of the city, McCoy moved to San Diego during his middle school years, but he still has a lot of family and friends in Chicago supporting him.

A five-star prospect who is deciding between Arizona, Michigan State, Oregon and UNLV, McCoy has already been back to Chicago once during his high school career to compete at the Proviso West Holiday Tournament as a junior.

McCoy will take the floor with the West Team at the United Center tonight as he's one of six uncommitted prospects in the game.

Ryan Hartman returns for Blackhawks vs. Penguins

Ryan Hartman returns for Blackhawks vs. Penguins

PITTSBURGH — Ryan Hartman has played on the right side of that line for most of this season. Now back in the lineup, he knows he has to stay on it.

Hartman will play after missing Monday's game as a healthy scratch when the Blackhawks face the Pittsburgh Penguins on Wednesday night. Hartman took a few bad penalties, including an unsportsmanlike conduct, against the Florida Panthers last weekend, so he sat vs. the Tampa Bay Lightning. The rookie knows he has to get back to the more disciplined hockey he's played most of the season. 

"I don't change my game. I think you take the message and deliver the message," Hartman said. "Obviously, no one likes to not play, everyone wants to play games and no one likes to sit out games. It's definitely something that I took to heart. I'm just going to go out there and just try to play like I've been playing and get on the scoresheet. Just stay off it for the wrong reasons."

Coach Joel Quenneville said Hartman has to stay on the right side of the line.

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"Know there are boundaries and sometimes you get watched a little bit more," Quenneville said. "The way they're calling the game, the way it's being officiated, be respectful. You still have to be hard to play against and find that limit, how far you can push it but you get a good feel on that early in games."

The Penguins are on a three-game winless streak (0-2-1) and are dealing with some injuries. The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reports that, while Evgeni Malkin (shoulder) is close to returning, he won't play against the Blackhawks.

Broadcast information

Time: 7 p.m.
TV: NBCSN
Live stream: NBC Sports app
Radio: WGN 720 AM

Blackhawks lines

Nick Schmaltz-Jonathan Toews-Richard Panik
Artemi Panarin-Tanner Kero-Patrick Kane
Ryan Hartman-Marcus Kruger-Marian Hossa
John Hayden-Dennis Rasmussen-Tomas Jurco

Defensive pairs 

Duncan Keith-Niklas Hjalmarsson
Johnny Oduya-Brent Seabrook
Brian Campbell-Trevor van Riemsdyk

Goaltender

Corey Crawford

Injuries 

Artem Anisimov (left leg)

Penguins lines

Conor-Sheary-Sidney Crosby-Bryan Rust
Chris Kunitz-Nick Bonino-Patric Hornqvist
Scott Wilson-Carter Rowney-Phil Kessel
Tom Kuhnhackl-Oskar Sundqvist-Josh Archibald

Defensive pairs

Brian Dumoulin-Justin Schultz
Ian Cole-Chad Ruhwedel
Cameron Gaunce-Mark Streit

Goaltender

Marc-Andre Fleury

Injuries

Evgeni Malkin (shoulder), Trevor Daley (knee), Daniel Sprong (shoulder), Jake Guentzel (concussion), Olli Maatta (hand), Kris Letang (upper body), Carl Hagelin (foot), Ron Hainsey (upper body)