ESPN2′s match of the week on Sunday proved a back-and-forth battle between the Chicago Fire and New York Red Bulls. New York arrived at Toyota Park looking for their first win in Illinois since 2005, while the Fire were seeking their first win of 2013 to climb out of the Eastern Conference cellar.
New York came out quickly, Bulls seeing nothing but Chicago red, hunting for the opening goal. When their tenacity led to a corner kick in the 17th minute, they finally found the back of the net. The corner sailed wide, and Tim Cahill rose to head it back in front of the goal. Brandon Barklage nodded it on into the path of Jamison Olave. With his back to goal, Olave contorted himself for a bicycle kick that left Fire goalkeeper Sean Johnson perplexed.
Seven minutes later Chicago ahead the perfect opportunity to level the match. Sherjill MacDonald threaded the ball through to Jeff Larentowicz up the spine, and the midfielder ripped a shot from just outside the area. The shot caromed off Jonathan Steele’s arm, and referee Allen Chapman pointed to the penalty spot. Chris Rolfe, with a short approach, sent Red Bulls keeper Luis Robles the wrong direction… but he also sent the ball wide of the post.
New York continued to get the majority of the opportunities through the rest of the first half, but poor finishing prevented the Red Bulls from nabbing another. Their failures cost them as the match neared stoppage time before intermission. Pushing the ball up the left flank, fullback Hunter Jumper chipped in a strong cross. Robles leapt to grab the pass, but before the ball could reach his gloves Fire midfielder Dan Paladini rose to head the wind-stalled ball into the gaping net for the equalizer. The turn of fortunes left the match level at one apiece heading into the second half.
A pair of substitutions just after the hour changed the composition of the match. A first it seemed as though the introduction of Thierry Henry for the Red Bulls would spur the visitors. Eight minutes after entering the match for Steele, Henry ripped a left-footer that pinged the post. He then set up Peguy Luyindula for a solid chance that got away. It seemed but a matter of time before they would connect to retake the lead for New York.
Instead it was the swap of Maicon Santos for Sherjill MacDnald two minutes after Henry’s entry that proved the difference-maker as the striker scored twice in the final ten minutes. Santos got his first from a Paladini feed, beating Robles with a sure-footed finish that left no doubt. Then, just over a minute before stoppage time, the veteran tapped in another at the post to ensure the Fire’s first victory of 2013.
NEW YORK RED BULLS @ CHICAGO FIRE
April 7, 2013
- 17′ -- NY/Jamison Olave (Brandon Barklage, Tim Cahill)
- 44′ — CHI/Dan Paladini (Hunter Jumper)
- 83′ — CHI/Maicon Santos (Dan Paladini)
- 89′ — CHI/Maicon Santos (Jeff Larentowicz)
- CHI (4-4-1-1): Sean Johnson; Hunter Jumper, Austin Berry, Jalil Anibaba, Wells Thompson; Joel Lindpere (Michael Videira/90′), Jeff Larentowicz, Logan Pause, Dan Paladini; Chris Rolfe (Corben Bone/87′); Sherjill MacDonald (Maicon Santos/63′)
- NY (4-4-2): Luis Robles; Heath Pearce, Markus Holgersson, Jamison Olave, Brandon Barklage (Ruben Bover Izquierdo/87′); Jonathan Steele (Thierry Henry/61′), Dax McCarty, Juninho, Eric Alexander; Peguy Luyindula (Lloyd Sam/76′), Tim Cahill