October 6, 2012 - Major League Soccer (MLS) - Chicago Fire
HARRISON, NJ (Oct. 6, 2012) - The Chicago Fire (17-10-5; 56 points) gave a complete team performance and used two Sherjill MacDonald goals to defeat the New York Red Bulls (15-9-8, 53 points) 2-0 at Red Bull Arena Saturday afternoon. The Fire jumped back into second place in the tightly contested Eastern Conference with the win in front of 21,157 fans and a national NBC audience.
Both teams felt out the match throughout most of the first half. New York threatened in the 27th minute when Thierry Henry brought down a Kenny Cooper pass with his chest and volleyed a shot on goal only for Fire defender Arne Friedrich to block the attempt.
With the first half winding down, the Fire nearly took the lead in the 44th minute. Jalil Anibaba lashed a well-placed cross into the box, finding Alvaro Fernandez alone at the edge of the six-yard box. The Uruguayan international rose to head the ball and placed his effort just over the crossbar leaving the two teams tied at 0-0 going into the break.
The Fire broke the deadlock in the 65th minute with a tidy bit of passing in the midfield. Friedrich pushed forward and found Chris Rolfe at the midfield the line. The sly forward took a touch and found MacDonald with a perfectly weighted ball through the heart of the Red Bull defense. MacDonald charged to meet the ball in-stride and fired a low, driven blast to beat Red Bulls 'keeper Anthony Robles and give the visitors a 1-0 advantage.
The home side pressed for the equalizer just moments later as Joel Lindpere raced into space on the left flank. The Estonian international found the head of Kenny Cooper in the Fire penalty area. Cooper's glancing header whizzed toward the back post but drifted just wide, keeping the Fire ahead on 71 minutes.
Chicago doubled its lead with a similar through ball and a similar finish. This time Logan Pause found Paladini with space in the offensive half. Paladini took a touch and led MacDonald with a pin-point pass in behind the Red Bull defense. MacDonald beat two Red Bull defenders to the ball and poked the ball under Robles for his second on the day to give the Fire a 2-0 lead through 79 minutes.
New York, trailing by two goals at home, attempted to push the game, however, the Fire's defensive shape couldn't be broken as Sean Johnson and the Fire earned its fifth shutout of the season.
The Men in Red will take a break as 2014 FIFA World Cup Qualifying resumes. The Fire return to action against the New England Revolution at Gillette Stadium on Saturday, Oct. 20 at 6:30 p.m. CT (NBC5.2/97.5 ESPN Deportes. The Fire will close out the MLS regular season at Toyota Park against Eastern Conference rival D.C. United on Saturday, Oct. 27 at 3:00 p.m. CT (NBC Sports Network/97.5 ESPN Deportes). Advance tickets are available by calling 888-MLS-Fire, by visiting www.Chicago-Fire.com or Ticketmaster.
* Under Frank Klopas, the Fire have never lost when scoring the first goal. The Men in Red moved to 17-0-4 under Klopas when finding the net first. * With the win, the Fire move to 12-5-2 with 38 points since June 17, 2012. * The Fire have won season series against Sporting Kansas City, Houston Dynamo, Columbus Crew, Montreal Impact, Philadelphia Union, and Toronto FC. * With the win, the Fire move to 17-10-5 on the season and sit second in the Eastern Conference on 56 points. * The victory moves the Fire to 13-4-3 against the MLS Eastern Conference in 2012 * With the win, the Fire can clinch playoff qualification Saturday night with a Houston loss vs. Montreal or Sunday with a Columbus loss or draw vs. Sporting KC. * Dutch striker Sherjill MacDonald tallied his third and fourth goal for the Men in Red on the night and his first since September 15 vs. Montreal. * Fire goalkeeper Sean Johnson made one save as the team earned its first shutout since a 1-0 win July 14 against the Vancouver Whitecaps. * Fire rookie defender Austin Berry, a front-runner for MLS Rookie of the Year, appeared in his 25th game of the season for the Men in Red, earning the victory on his 24th birthday. * The Fire have only allowed 39 goals on the season. * When Austin Berry and Arne Friedrich are patrolling the central defense the Fire are 12-4-2 only allowing 21 goals in 18 games.