In New York’s first preseason match against a MLS opponent, the Red Bulls First Team drew 1-1 with the Chicago Fire Wednesday afternoon at Lockhart Stadium. Midfielder Joel Lindpere scored his first goal of the season while goalkeeper Bouna Coundoul stopped a penalty kick in the second half to keep the game tied.
“It’s always good to play some games against the other MLS teams,” said Red Bulls head coach Hans Backe. “There’s a little bit of another type of soccer. It’s a little bit more physical than when we play against Mexican teams, but that’s the way it is. It’s good and we now have two more games against MLS teams in Arizona, so that’s perfect for us.”
The Red Bulls looked to get to a fast start six minutes in, as forward Thierry Henry created space from 15 yards out and fired high. New York controlled possession within the opening moments of the match and their persistence paid off with the first goal in the 18th minute. The ball was headed out of the box to Lindpere, who fired a 25-yard shot past goalkeeper Sean Johnson and into the lower right hand corner of the net.
Chicago’s best chance of the first half came in the 42nd minute, as Baggio Husidic got behind the Red Bulls’ defense and chipped it just past the right post.
However, after the intermission, the Fire equalized eight minutes into the second half. Midfielder Patrick Nyarko raced to the endline and crossed it to an open Marco Pappa, who controlled it and fired it in from six yards out.
“I was a little bit surprised that they were so low on the pitch because we had the ball almost the whole first half,” said midfielder Jan Gunnar Solli. “I think we made it a little bit difficult for ourselves (in the second half), as we played too casual sometimes and we were a little bit sloppy with our passes as Hans usually says to us not to do. Overall, I think this was the best team we played so far.”
Chicago had a golden opportunity to take the lead with 20 minutes to play, as Nyarko was fouled by Rafa Marquez in the penalty box. However, Coundoul guessed correctly and smothered Pappa’s ensuing spot kick.
“I kind of know the type of player Pappa is and the way he was positioning his body, I knew it was going to be difficult for him to hit it on my right. I faked like I was going to go to my right and maybe he made a mistake and I was lucky to get it on my left side,” Coundoul said.
With one match against a preseason opponent under their belt, Solli was confident of the team’s chances in the League this year.
“I think we’re going to do really well. In the second half, we were a little bit sloppy with the passing, but overall, I think we were a better team than Chicago and I have a lot of confidence in what’s going to come,” Solli said.
Prior to the First Team match, the Red Bulls Reserves dropped a 4-2 decision to the Fire Reserves.
New York returns to action on Saturday, Feb. 26 when it takes on the Ft. Lauderdale Strikers. Tickets for the Red Bulls’ 2011 season at Red Bull Arena are on sale now by calling 1.877.RBSOCCER or CLICKING HERE.
New York Red Bulls 1, Chicago Fire 1
February 23, 2011; Lockhart Stadium, Ft. Lauderdale, FL
NY: Joel Lindpere 1 (unassisted) 18’
CHI: Marco Pappa 1 (Patrick Nyarko 1) 53’
New York Red Bulls – Greg Sutton (GK) (Bouna Coundoul 46’), Roy Miller (Danleigh Borman 46’), Tim Ream, Rafa Marquez, Teemu Tainio* (Chris Albright 46’), Joel Lindpere, Mehdi Ballouchy (Corey Hertzog 81’), Tony Tchani, Jan Gunnar Solli, Juan Agudelo, Thierry Henry (Dane Richards 59’)
Chicago Fire – Sean Johnson (GK), Gonzalo Segares (Michael Muniz 85’), Cory Gibbs, Josip Mikulic, Jalil Anibaba, Patrick Nyarko, Daniel Paladini (Marco Pappa 46’), Logan Pause, Baggio Husidic, Gaston Puerari (Bratislav Ristic 59’), Gabriel Ferrari (Mike Videira 71’)
* - Non-Roster Player