On a fantastic Saturday Afternoon at Red Bull Arena, with beautiful, mild weather in the forecast, over 21,000 in attendance came expecting to see the Red Bulls make another win at their fortress. But for a second time this season, the Chicago Fire came to Red Bull Arena wanting to make a statement after they were embarrassed at home mid-week by the Philadelphia Union. Second place was on the line and the Fire burned the Red Bulls where it mattered.
Sherjill MacDonald came up big when he had to, and he punished New York with two fantastic goals that took the energy out of the crowd. A well placed pass by Chris Rolfe sprung MacDonald who was kept onside by Heath Pearce in the 65th minute. Even though Luis Robles cut the angle down, MacDonald still found a way to power the ball past him, converting the chance for a 1-0 lead.
The second goal might have been a question of offside, but looking at the replay MacDonald was on but a shoulder and punished the Red Bulls again. The 78th minute goal made the backline look out of sync. They were gouged again by another solid pass, this time from Daniel Paladini. MacDonald would slide and shoot the ball at the same time for number two of the afternoon.
After ninety minutes, the Chicago Fire leapt over the Red Bulls and DC United for second place after DC got a late winner at BMO Field in Toronto – they now sit ahead of New York in third place in the Eastern Conference. Things are starting to get interesting very late in the season with the international break coming up quickly.
“We controlled the possession, we had our chances before they scored.” Said Hans Backe, “We closed them down quite okay, of course (they) caught one on the break, and we definitely didn’t take our chances in the first 25 minutes of the second half.”
To be fair the Red Bulls did play well and looked solid on defense in the first half. In fact they didn’t concede an early goal within the first fifteen minutes of the match and showed some strong play after the Fire had possession of the ball in the first five to ten minutes.
The best chance for the Red Bulls in the first half was a good eight yard rip that was headed for the net. Instead of Sean Johnson making the big save, Arne Friedrich came out of nowhere to block the shot. But on this day it was Frank Klopas side that came out victorious.
“We played very well I felt. I felt that the first half we could’ve been better with the ball,” said Klopas. “I thought we had opportunities to play and keep the ball and that’s the one thing we talked about and then we gave up some opportunities through some overall mistakes. But I felt the team played very well, 90 minutes we defended very well as a team.”
And now it’s time to look ahead towards these World Cup Qualifiers and see if the USA can grab one of those two spots from Group A and advance to the Hexagonal for 2013.