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In Spite Of It All: New York Red Bulls 1, Chicago Fire 2, MLS game recap

The men in white steal three crucial points on the road

MLS: Chicago Fire at New York Red Bulls Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

New York Red Bulls 1 Wright-Philipps 80’

Chicago Fire 2 Katai 30’, Nikolic 69’

Do you know those games where it just seems like one team was meant to win? Everything goes their way, and they manage to somehow come away with the win against the odds.

Today, fate was on the side of the Chicago Fire. The Men In Red benefited from just about every twist of fate you could think of. They scored a spectacular goal against the run of play, grabbed another goal from the penalty spot, and even had a Red Bulls goal taken off the board after an offside call. Sanchez stood on his head in the Chicago goal, and was saved by the posts on a couple of occasions.

None of that will matter at the end of the season, however. All that does matter is that they somehow got three points on the day, and dig themselves a little out of the hole they started the season in.

Paunovic named a changed side from the team that lost to the Galaxy last week. The formation, however, was the same, as Bastian stayed at the Libero position. Kappelhof and Lillard were the centerbacks either side of him, with Vincent and Ellis at the fullback positions. The midfield three were Dax, Katai, and a debuting Mo Adams. Up top, Collier formed a strikeforce with Nikolic.

Collier had the first half chance of the contest, after he was played through down the sidelines. He was able to get a shot off, but it was blocked away for a corner.

The Fire looked to have a chance on the counter, when Katai picked up the ball out wide and tried to play Collier in behind, but the pass was intercepted by a Red Bull’s defender.

BWP created the first chance for the Red Bulls, bringing down a bouncing ball on the edge of the area and hitting it on the volley. It flew over the bar, but wasn’t the worst idea.

The Red Bulls came to close to capitalizing on a Fire error when Adams gave the ball away, but the shot went well wide of the target.

Chicago made a mess of a throw in, turning it over and giving the Red Bulls a chance on the counter. Kaku, New York’s young DP, drove at the Fire defense before rifling a shot at the near post. Sanchez stood firm, and was able to make the save.

The Men In Red got their chance on the counter soon after, when Collier picked out Katai it the middle of the park. The pass was a bit behind the winger, who stopped to settled the ball. Katai went for the curling shot to the back post, but Robles was able to tip it over the bar.

However, the Fire were able to grab the opening goal after the resulting corner. The set piece was headed out to the top of the box, right to Katai, who went for the first time volley on his left foot. He hit it perfectly, and his shot flew past Robles into the back of the net. It might have come against the run of play, but the Fire wouldn’t have cared.

Remarkably enough, New York almost equalized less than a minute after. Royer was played through on the left wing, and smashed a shot at the near post. Sanchez was somehow able to react, getting his forearm in the way to make the save.

Sanchez had to save the Fire again soon after. Lillard completely whiffed on a clearance, allowing BWP clean through on the right wing. He crossed it to Royer at the back post, but his low shot was blocked by the trailing leg of Sanchez. The rebound fell to Kaku, who went for a cheeky chip, but Sanchez got up fast enough to catch it.

The Fire had a great chance to double the advantage, and really should’ve. Nikolic was played down the right wing, and managed to pick out Katai, who was wide open in front of goal. However, the winger fluffed his lines, and hit his tap in wide of the goal.

New York managed to have one last chance in the final minute of stoppage time, but couldn’t convert. Royer dinked a ball to BWP, who went for an audacious bicycle kick. It sailed wide, but almost fell to a Red Bulls attacker at the back post, but just missed him as well.

The Fire had the opening chance of the second half, when a long ball toward Katai was almost brought down, but Robles jumped on it before he could get a shot off.

The Red Bull’s began to pressure the Fire, and saw a low cross somehow miss everyone in the penalty area.

A comedy of errors from Lillard almost gave a goal to BWP. The defender cleared it right off the striker, and was almost through on goal, but Sanchez reacted fast enough to come out and make a diving catch.

Royer came close yet again for the Red Bulls, hitting a volley with the outside of his boot right off the crossbar.

The rebound found its way to Kaku on the left wing, who tried to kick it through the legs of Sanchez, but the Fire keeper was able to get a hand down and make the save.

The Fire hit on the counter attack, and were able to win a penalty. Katai was played through on goal, and dribbled past Robles, who was forced to take him out.

Nikolic, who hadn’t done much all game, stepped up and concerted. It was close to a perfect penalty, as it flew into the top left corner with plenty of pace. Robles guessed the right way, but there was nothing he could do.

It seemed like the deficit was halved almost immediately, but the assistant referee came to Chicago’s rescue. Etienne was played down the left wing, and squared a ball across the box to Royer, who tapped it in at the back post. However, Etienne was offside when the initial pass was played, and the goal was correctly called off.

Alan Gordon came on from Elliot Collier to get some fresh legs on the field.

Dax gave away a free kick on the edge of the box after a late challenge. Thankfully for him, the shot from Murillo went just wide.

New York finally got their goal from a corner. A header was flicked on to the backpost. Niko, who was stood on the line, couldn’t clear, and the ball fell right to BWP, who poked home from close range. on post didn’t clear right to BWP.

The Fire were able to survive the late storm to hold on to the win, and steal a massive three road points against a conference rival.

The Chicago Fires next game is away to Toronto FC.

NOTES:

  • The Fire gave the ball away too many times, and were lucky to see none of their giveaways lead to goals. On another day, Chicago could’ve been made to pay for their mistakes.
  • Mo Adams did well on his debut, and certainly looked better than Tchani has. The rookie was energetic, smart with his passes, and did what he needed to.
  • Drew Conner should really get the start next week at right wing back, as Ellis didn’t offer anything defensively or on the attack.