October 6, 2012
THE RUNNING OF THE BULLS
MacDonald powers Fire to critical win over NYRB
HARRISON, NJ—Sherjill MacDonald scored in the 65th and 78th minutes to lift the Chicago Fire into a 2-0 win over the New York Red Bulls Saturday at Red Bull Arena, and into sole possession of second place in the MLS East with two games left in the season.
|Sherjill MacDonald scored both goals as the Chicago Fire shut out the New York Red Bulls 2-0 Saturday at Red Bull Arena.
Linda Cuttone/Sports Vue Images
Saturday’s win, combined with a Columbus Crew tie or loss against conference leaders Kansas City on Sunday, would guarantee the Fire a spot in the MLS Cup playoffs.
MacDonald snapped the scoreless tie off a breakaway, charging into the penalty area with a half-step edge on defender Heath Pearce and coolly slotting the shot over rookie goalkeeper Luis Robles, who had come off his line and gone to ground. Chris Rolfe set the play in motion with a pinpoint ball through the Red Bulls defense from just inside midfield.
MacDonald doubled the Fire lead off a through ball from Daniel Paladini, perfectly timing his break through the three-man Red Bulls back line and, while New York’s players screamed for an offside flag, again chipped the ball over Robles, this time 16 yards from goal.
While the Red Bulls gave Fire ‘keeper Sean Johnson a few anxious moments, they put only one shot on goal, a header by Tim Cahill in the 57th minute that Johnson handled easily. German defender Arne Friedrich came up big for the Fire in the 27th minute, darting in to block Thierry Henry’s point-blank shot from in front of the goal. Otherwise, the Red Bulls were their own worst enemies, with Dax McCarty, Kenny Cooper and Henry all missing the mark despite open looks at goal.
The Fire, meanwhile, were all over Robles from the opening kickoff. In the sixth minute – the witching hour for a Red Bulls team that came into Saturday’s game having surrendered early goals in four of their last nine games – Robles mishandled a long shot by Rolfe, grabbing up the rebound just ahead of Patrick the onrushing Patrick Nyarko, who vaulted over the Red Bulls ‘keeper and into the goalmouth. In the 33rd minute, Nyarko and Robles collided off the right post while contesting a teasing pass from Alvaro Fernandez.
Fernandez came up with one of the Fire’s best chances of the first half in the 44th minute, soaring over flat-footed defender Brandon Barklage for an open 10-yard header that was inches over the bar.
Chicago kept the momentum after halftime, almost forcing two early Red Bulls own goals, the first by Cooper as Daniel Paladini’s free kick pingponged through the six-yard box, and then by Markus Holgersson as he cleared Nyarko’s sharp cross form the right side.
In the midst of an otherwise forgettable day, Robles came up with the save of the game in the 52nd minute, standing tall to parry Friedrich’s point-blank eight-yarder away from the net.
The loss, coupled with DC United’s 1-0 win over Toronto FC earlier on Saturday, drops the Red Bulls to fourth place in the East at 15-9-8 (53 pts).