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With new coach, Chicago thumped by Houston
by Ridge Mahoney, July 13th, 2007 7AM

TAGS:  mls


Teams change coaches, and coaches trade players, and still Houston rolls over all comers. Juan Carlos Osorio debuted as Chicago's head coach Thursday night on national television and fortunately has more than a week to shrug off a 4-0 thumping inflicted by the defending champion before his team plays again. Houston's rout include a brilliant goal by Joseph Ngwenya (video HERE). By the time Scottish club Glasgow Celtic lines up for a friendly July 22, Osorio will have Cuauhtemoc Blanco in uniform and perhaps a few answers to the harsh lessons taught by Houston. He might also have observed how a team that won the league title last year has further strengthened itself by intelligent tweaking.

Forward Nate Jaqua, a member of the Fire (4-8-4) as recently as last October, pounced on a loose ball prompted by a Joseph Ngwenya spin and blasted it high into the net for Houston's second goal. Four minutes later Jaqua set up Joseph Ngwenya to score his sixth goal since being acquired from Columbus two months ago.

Chris Wondolowski touched, literally, a ball over the goal line in stoppage time for goal number four. He had just come into the match and when goalie Matt Pickens could only get a piece of a low shot by substitute Dwayne DeRosario, Wondolowski caught up to it just as it was about to nudge the base of the post. All Wondolowski did to earn his time was lead the reserve league last year with 13 goals.

While scoring three or more goals for the fourth time this season, and winning its eighth game of the last nine, Houston (10-5-2) also ran its shutout streak to 605 minutes. It can set a league record by blanking Toronto at home Sunday.

Chicago threatened mildly in the opening minutes and forced consecutive corner kicks, both of which yielded Jim Curtin headers that Houston goalie Pat Onstad deflected over the crossbar. Minutes later, Ricardo Clark curled a long-distance shot off the crossbar, and in the 31st minute, Stuart Holden ran onto a pass from captain Wade Barrett to score his third goal of the season.

Houston's attack thrives on movement and coordination and pressure from the flanks. With DeRosario on the bench to start the match, wide midfielders Holden and Brian Mullan ran at Chicago repeatedly to open up huge gaps for Jaqua and Ngwenya.

The range and workrate of central midfielders Clark and Richard Mulrooney blunted the Fire's efforts to build attacks and only Justin Mapp had even a modicum of success piercing the Dynamo back line. Central defenders Pat Ianni, who replaced an injured Ryan Cochrane just before halftime, and Eddie Robinson blanketed Chicago forward Chad Barrett, and Thiago never stamped his influence on the match. Sub Calen Carr slashed forward but his blistering pace didn't produce anything of note.

Houston, the road team, remember, outshot Chicago, 18-12, even though the game had effectively ended when Ngwenya skipped past two defenders and darted past Pickens to slot a roller from a nearly impossible angle in the 62nd minute.

Not often in a league founded on parity is the word "dynasty" heard and Coach Dominic Kinnear and his players would be the first ones to tell you the folly of such talk, particularly with half of the regular season still to be played. But "repeat" is certainly worth mentioning.

July 12 in Bridgeview, Ill.
Chicago 0 Houston 4.
Goals: Holden (Barrett, Clark) 31, Jaqua 58, Ngwenya (Jaqua) 62, Wondolowski (De Rosario) 91+.
Chicago - Pickens, Gutierrez, Curtin, Segares, Soumare, Armas, Thiago, Menezes (Carr, 73), Guerrero (Oliveira, 64), Mapp, Barrett.
Houston - Onstad, Waibel, Barrett, Robinson, Cochrane (Ianni, 45), Mullan, Clark, Mulrooney, Holden, Jaqua (Wondolowski, 91+), Ngwenya (De Rosario, 81).
Yellow Cards: Chicago - Gutierrez 70, Thiago 80; Houston - Holden 76.
Referee: Alex Prus.
Att.: 20,034.

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