BRIDGEVIEW, IL: A missed offside call allowed Brian McBride's 40th minute header to cancel out David Ferreira's early opening goal as Chicago stole a point off of visiting FC Dallas. 12,552 watched as the linesmen helped mask a display of poor finishing from the Fire, who picked up their 10th point of the season. The Fire also extended their winless streak to four games.
The opening moments of the game were a flurry of activity, with both teams committed to attack early on. Surprisingly, visitors Dallas drew first blood in only the 6th minute of the game. An error from Wilman Conde allowed David Ferreira to collect the ball, cut inside beating C.J. Brown, and curl a well-placed shot past a helpless Kevin Hartman. Chicago responded with a flurry of attacks down the right wing. In the 11th minute, Patrick Nyarko found himself on a breakaway, but he was closed down well by Ugo Ihemelu and his tame shot barely tested Hartman. Shortly after, Justin Mapp was brought down just outside the box, but Mike Banner's resulting free kick was more likely to trouble passing airplanes than Dallas keeper Kevin Hartman.
Brian McBride missed an excellent chance to equalize in the 25th minute, when Logan Pause's pass found the former US International in an excellent position just inside the box. McBride failed to settle the ball, and was subsequently dispossessed by the swarming Dallas defense.
In the 32nd, Dallas almost doubled their lead when an impressive team move found Jeff Cunningham inside the box. His incisive pass found David Ferreira, but the Colombian was flagged for offsides after putting the ball past Andrew Dykstra
Poor defense almost allowed Dax McCarty to score just three minutes later. Giving him plenty of room as he advanced, the Dallas midfielder had time to setup for a low, drilled shot that Dykstra was happy to see buzz the outside of his post.
Almost immediately, Chicago nearly made Dallas pay for their profligacy. An excellent combination between Mapp and McBride on the left wing found Mike Banner with the ball on his feet just yards in front of the goal, but he somehow conspired to put his shot over the crossbar when it would have been much easier to score.
Chicago's moment finally came in the 40th minute. An inch-perfect long ball from Justin Mapp was met by the head of Brian McBride, who got away with an offside position, out-jumped two defenders and Kevin Hartman to claim his fourth goal of the season and put the match back on level terms.
Mike Banner almost capitalized on Chicago's momentum two minutes later, when a speculative cross found him unmarked just 12 yard from the Dallas goal, but his first touch was poor and the ball ricocheted away harmlessly.
Just a minute later, controversy again swarmed around the linesman. A goal from Dallas's Brek Shea was called back for offside. Replays showed it to be legitimate, the second key offside call to go against the visitors.
The second half started much more cagily than the first half, with the majority of play confined to a congested midfield. Eventually, Chicago started to impose themselves on the game, but found themselves unable to capitalize. In an effort to jumpstart the attack, Chicago brought Collins John on for Justin Mapp in the 56th minute.
Both sides continued to attack, but neither found themselves with the numbers needed to break down the opposition. This was typified in a moment win the 63rd minute, when Chicago's Baggio Husidic went at four defenders alone in an almost suicidal attempt to force a goal.
In the 70th minute, Dallas manager Schellas Hyndman seemed to tire of the lackluster play of Cunningham, who drifted out of the game for long periods. THe coach brought on Heath Pearce, fresh off of being left out of the USA's World Cup team. Almost immediately, Pearce made his presence felt, forcing an error from the Chicago defense, but he was unable to find support.
In the 74th, a streaking Patrick Nyarko found Collins John with a clever pass, but John's powerful shot found only side netting. Nyarko made himself a constant thorn in Dallas's side for much of the game, using his pace to create several uncomfortable moments for Dallas.
Towards the end of the game, Dallas stepped up the pressure, going close several times and causing problems for the Fire backline. Perhaps their best chance came in the 90th minute, when Heath Pearce failed to get enough height on his jump, letting a good headed chance close to goal go begging.
In extra time, Chicago nearly found an unlikely chance to score the winner, with Kevin Hartman's heroics required to smother a dangerous ball bouncing around inside the six-yard area. Chicago will be disappointed to have not scored that chance, but they should be relieved to escape the game with a point.
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