HARRISON, N.J. – The Chicago Fire may have suffered an upset loss earlier in the week, but they responded in a big way on Saturday.
The Fire handed New York their second loss of the season at Red Bull Arena in a pivotal Eastern Conference clash on Saturday afternoon, with Sherjill MacDonald scoring a brace in a 2-0 Chicago victory. The win snapped a two-game losing streak for Chicago that included a defeat to the Philadelphia Union on Wednesday and put them one step closer to reaching the postseason.
For New York, the loss saw them drop the season series to Chicago and it put a dent in their hopes of reaching the postseason. The Red Bulls are now fourth in the tight Eastern Conference as DC United topped Toronto FC earlier in the day.
The Fire came out the better side in the first half, taking the game to the Red Bulls and controlling most of the possession through the first 15 minutes. Chicago, however, was unable to create many goal-scoring opportunities aside from one Chris Rolfe shot from 20-yards out that goalkeeper Luis Robles got in front of and blocked with his body.
Avoiding the early-goal syndrome which has plagued them recently, New York settled in after the first quarter of an hour and began stringing some passes together. The Red Bulls still had a tough time getting in behind the likes of Austin Berry and Arne Friedrich but they did have a few half-chances, including a dipping volley from Dax McCarty from outside the penalty area, that were not converted.
The second half started in the same way as the opening 45 minutes, with Chicago looking the more dangerous side. Friedrich even came close to putting the Fire ahead on a volleyed effort, but Robles denied him.
Chicago finally broke the deadlock in the 65th minute. Pushed far up the field, Friedrich hit a ball to Rolfe and the Fire midfielder then played MacDonald in behind the Red Bulls defense. MacDonald used his speed to race in on goal and beat Robles easily with a shot to the far post.
MacDonald beat Robles again to double the Fire’s lead in the 78th minute. Daniel Paladini made a run through the center of the field before slotting a through ball through MacDonald, who again used his speed to beat New York’s defense and slip a shot past Robles.
Both teams now head into the international break before returning to action on Oct. 20. The Fire visit the New England Revolution while the Red Bulls host Sporting Kansas City.