HARRISON, N.J. – The New York Red Bulls faced a number of injuries, the scorching heat and a Chicago Fire team that beat them earlier this year. But nothing could stop them from getting back in the win column.
The Red Bulls claimed a 1-0 victory over the Fire inside a steaming Red Bull Arena on Wednesday, with Thierry Henry’s magical second-half strike proving the difference in the two teams’ second encounter of the season.
The result gave the Red Bulls (10-5-5) their second win in their last eight games and moved them into second place in the Eastern Conference, while simultaneously leaving the Fire in fourth. Chicago (9-7-4) could have surpassed New York and D.C. United and claimed second place with a win, but they instead settled for their second loss in three games.
Perhaps a bit more accustomed the excruciating heat inside the furnace that was Red Bull Arena, New York were the better side through the opening 45 minutes. The Red Bulls created a handful of chances, including three by Sébastien Le Toux, but none were able to beat a steady Sean Johnson in the Fire net.
Chicago appeared content to absorb the pressure and try to hit back on the counter with their speedy attackers. Marco Pappa proved a handful for Brandon Barklage, but even that was not enough for the Fire to create quality looks in a slow-paced first half.
The frustration got worse for the Red Bulls at the start of the second half, as shouts for a penalty kick in the 55th minute went ignored after Chicago midfielder Pável Pardo looked to have handled the ball inside the 18-yard box.
That frustration turned into elation 16 minutes later when Henry struck a magnificent winner that a soaring Johnson could do nothing about.
Le Toux hit a diagonal aerial ball to a streaking Henry, who chested the ball down before hitting a left-footed volley that flew over the outstretched Johnson, stung off the far post and crossed the goal line. The goal was his first since April 28 and his 10th of the season, tying him for third-most in the league.
Chicago had a chance to even it up in the 83rd minute, but Barklage cleared away a goal-bound Rafael Robayo shot off the line to preserve the three points for New York.
The Red Bulls will play their third game in seven days on Saturday when they host the Philadelphia Union in another afternoon game slated to take place in hot conditions. The Fire, meanwhile, host Premiership club Aston Villa in a friendly on Saturday before returning to league play with a road game on July 28 against the San Jose Earthquakes.