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Chicago Fire draw 2-2 with Red Bulls after heartbreaking late goal

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The Fire are fighting for the final playoff spot in the MLS Eastern Conference

Chicago defender Boris Sekulic gets a shot on goal off a Fire corner kick.  
Chicago Fire FC

After second half goals from Robert Berić and Przemyslaw Frankowski, the Chicago Fire were on the brink of doing something they hadn’t done all year—winning a come from behind game.

Then came a reminder that soccer can be cruel. A stoppage time equalizer from Brian White helped the New York Red Bulls escape Soldier Field with a 2-2 draw, meaning the Fire will have to settle for one point in the standings as they battle for a postseason spot.

“Last weekend we equalized minute 94 I think, so we won a point,” Raphael Wicky said after the match, comparing this week’s draw to last week’s draw against Sporting Kansas City. “This weekend we have an equalizer minute 93, and of course, we lose two points...that’s football, right? That’s the beauty of the game. You can’t predict always.”

New York opened the scoring in the 39th minute, when the Red Bulls caught the Fire napping on a throw in. After the ball was back in play, Jared Stroud found Kyle Duncan open on the far side of the 18-yard-box. The Fire’s defense couldn’t catch up, and Duncan beat Bobby Shuttleworth to make it 1-0 New York.

The Fire found an equalizer six minutes after halftime, when Frankowski knocked down a ball to Boris Sekulić, who swung it across the box to Berić on the doorstep of the far post for the finish. The goal was Berić’s ninth of the season, placing him third in MLS in goals scored.

The Fire would go ahead 20 minutes later after Red Bulls goalkeeper Ryan Meara batted down a flying header by Fabian Herbers. Frankowski was there for the poke-in—his first goal in more than a year for the Fire—and Chicago was up 2-1.

In the first minute of stoppage time, another bizarre bounce went against the Fire. A shot hit Mauricio Pineda in the back, skipped forward, and fell to Brian White, who scored an ugly goal after a scrum with Sekulić. The bounce felt a lot like the one that helped the Columbus Crew escape Soldier Field with a draw earlier this season. In that match, a shot hit Gyasi Zardes in the back of the legs, and fell to him in stride for an easy finish.

“This season I can’t even count how many deflections that ended up in really good chances for them,” Shuttleworth said. “That being said, there are obviously a lot of things we can do better.”

The Fire have a three game road trip, before finishing at home, to close out the regular season. Chicago sits tied for the final playoff spot with Inter Miami, with a game in hand. With three of the last four away from Soldier Field, the Fire will have to be stronger on the road if they want to make the postseason.

“We have to do more than what we’ve been doing up until now when we play on the road,” said midfielder Álvaro Medrán. “We are one of the last teams that hasn’t won games on the road, so we know that we have to change that.”

The Fire face the best team in MLS, the Philadelphia Union, on Wednesday at Subaru Park in Chester, PA. Then it’s away to Nashville next weekend, the rescheduled match with Minnesota United after that, and NYCFC back at Soldier Field to close the year on Nov. 8.

Chicago Fire FC: GK Shuttleworth, D Sekulić, D Bornstein, D Calvo ©, D Pineda, M Medrán, M Mihailović, M Aliseda, M Frankowski, F Herbers (D Navarro 80’), F Berić

Subs not used: GK Sparrow, M Azira, M Casas Jr., D N. Slonina, D Reynolds II, D Terán, M Gutiérrez, F Collier

New York Red Bulls: GK Meara, D Duncan, D Pendant, D Parker, D Long, M Stroud (M Rzatkowski 78’), M Yearwood (M Casseres Jr. 70’), M Valot, M Davis © (F White 78’), F Tetteh (M Clark 56’), F Barlow

Subs not used: GK Jensen, D Tarek, M Fernandez, D Egbo, M Royer