During the Fire’s game against the Houston Dynamo on Wednesday night, the grass at Soldier Field drew rave reviews for its performance.
The Fire also earned praise.
Needing to get a result, the Fire dominated the Dynamo in a 4-0 victory. Robert Beric, Fabian Herbers, Alvaro Medran and CJ Sapong scored for the Fire, who entered the night last in the league — with one win since MLS returned to its home markets in August — and outside the 10-team Eastern Conference playoff field.
They left with perhaps their best performance of the year, outshooting Houston 16-7 and seeing another goal waved off after a review.
“I think in general it was a really, really good performance,” Fire coach Raphael Wicky said. “It was a mature performance.”
The Fire (3-7-3, 12 points) got off to a good start, taking the lead in the 15th minute, when Beric converted a well-placed cross from Jonathan Bornstein. Beric has scored in three straight matches after a seven-game dry spell. Herbers doubled the lead in the 23rd for his third tally at Soldier Field.
Medran made it 3-0 in the 40th minute, when he took control of the ball in the Fire’s half, eluded Houston defenders and scored after keeping possession for almost 60 yards. Sapong converted a penalty in the 89th minute to complete the scoring.
“Credit to the team, after those tough results in the past, that we come back strong like this, and then we actually showed what we’re capable of when we play well, when we finish our chances offensively and when we stay compact and don’t give up easy chances defensively,” Herbers said.
Though efforts had clearly been made to camouflage the gridiron markings three days after the visit from the Giants, Bears markings were faded but impossible to miss. Their famous wishbone C logo was darkened but obvious at midfield, as were both end-zone designs and all of the football lines and hash marks.
More important than appearances was how the surface actually held up. Though the field showed obvious wear between the NFL yard numbers, Fire captain Francisco Calvo had no issues with the grass.
“The field was really good,” Calvo said. “Very happy to play at Soldier Field.”
Like his captain, Wicky had no complaints. He said the playing surface was good, complimenting the grounds crew for its work on the surface after the Bears game. The field also had some moisture, allowing the ball to roll a little faster.
“Very happy with that,” Wicky said. “They can leave it every time like that. We won 4-0.”
NOTE: Fabian Herbers returned to the starting lineup after missing Saturday’s game because of yellow-card accumulation. Jonathan Bornstein played at left back in place of Miguel Angel Navarro. It was Bornstein’s first start since July 23.