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Fire look to keep ball rolling in Houston

8/20/2010

BRIDGEVIEW, Ill. -- The Chicago Fire are in the midst of a 2-0-1 month of August and they hope to maintain their momentum when they travel to Houston to take on the Dynamo on Saturday at Robertson Stadium.

The Fire potentially could climb into third place in the East. The New York Red Bulls travel to BMO Field to take on Toronto FC earlier in the day on Saturday. If Toronto falls and Chicago wins, the Fire would take sole possession of third ahead of Toronto. A Toronto loss and Fire win would mean a third-place tie, with Chicago having played two less matches than Toronto.

The Dynamo typically is in the conversation when looking at the top teams in MLS. But that definitely is not the case this season.

Houston is 5-10-5 and carrying a 10-game winless streak on its shoulders. Its last victory was against D.C. United on May 22.

"We're going to play against a team that even though they're not having a great [season] as of right now, they are still a tough team to play," Fire head coach Carlos de los Cobos said.

The Fire are coming off a 2-1 victory over the New England Revolution on Wednesday at Toyota Park. Chicago had an early blunder but climbed back for the win.

Though the victory was not the prettiest, Chicago's recent upgrade in talent showed in spots on the pitch. Designated player Freddie Ljungberg had a standout performance against the Revs and defender Gonzalo Segares once again is a staple at left defensive back.

Midfielders Patrick Nyarko (concussion) and John Thorrington (quad) are questionable, but whenever they get back, that will only create more competition among the Fire roster.

"Our training sessions have been a lot sharper," Fire midfielder Baggio Husidic said. "Guys are competing for positions -- lot of good players here. We want to be sharp and that just kind of carries onto the field."

Houston never has experienced such a downfall in its regular-season history, and the bottom line is the Dynamo offense has not been coming through. Opponents have outscored Houston, 8-2 over its past five matches, and the Dynamo has only two shots on goal in its past two matches.

In Chicago's last three matches, the Fire have had a different goal scorer on all five tallies. Defensively, rookie goalkeeper Sean Johnson has been steady with 14 saves on 17 shots -- two goals allowed were Landon Donovan penalty kicks and the third was a one-on-one situation against New England's Marko Perovic.