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Football: Red Bulls douse Fire in MLS playoff opener

Chicago (AFP) – English striker Bradley Wright-Phillips scored in the seventh minute and the New York Red Bulls inflicted a 4-0 rout on host Chicago in Wednesday’s Major League Soccer playoff opener.

Sixth seed New York imposed upon the Fire the most lopsided blowout in 17 all-time knockout round MLS matches, becoming only the fourth road winner in those encounters.

The Red Bulls also had goals from American midfielder Sacha Kljestan in the 11th minute, Austrian midfielder Daniel Royer in the 70th and Argentine winger Gonzalo Veron in the 87th.

New York advanced to an Eastern Conference semi-finals home-and-home matchup against top seed Toronto FC. The Red Bulls drew the Canadian squad 1-1 at home in May and lost 4-2 last month at Toronto in their regular-season meetings.

New York improved to 3-0 in knockout round matches, winning in 2011 at Dallas and 2014 against Kansas City.

Wright-Phillips netted his eighth career MLS playoff goal after a misplay from Fire goalkeeper Matt Lampson to produce all the scoring the Red Bulls needed.

German icon Bastian Schweinsteiger, who scored three goals in 24 regular-season matches, came off the bench and played 25 minutes despite calf and quadriceps injuries.

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