HARRISON, N.J. – Nine goals, two hat tricks, one crazy game for the ages.
The Chicago Fire and New York Red Bulls played to an entertaining and wild match in front of a packed Red Bull Arena on Saturday night, and the visitors were the ones who claimed three points with a 5-4 victory that saw both sides go through a roller coaster of emotions.
Rookie Harry Shipp led the way for the Fire with a three-goal, one-assist performance, but red-hot Red Bulls striker Bradley Wright-Phillips kept his club in it with his second hat trick of the season. That marked the first time in MLS history that two players recorded a hat trick in the same game.
The win was Chicago’s first of the season and improved them to 1-2-6. New York, meanwhile, fell to 3-3-5.
The Red Bulls erased an early 1-0 deficit that came via a somewhat controversial play. A cross from Shipp found the back of the net in the fourth minute, but only after Mike Magee – who appeared to be tripped up in the penalty area moments earlier – made a play on the ball from an active offside position that distracted goalkeeper Luis Robles.
New York wasted no time in bringing the game back to square one, as Tim Cahill found the equalizer two minutes later. Cahill hit home a thunderous trademark header off a cross from Eric Alexander, giving the Designated Player his first goal of the season in what was his final match before joining Australia for their World Cup preparations.
The Fire struggled to win the possession battle from there, but had a glorious chance in the 38th minute to reclaim the lead. Unfortunately for Chicago, Magee pushed his shot wide of the far post despite breaking in on goal all alone.
That miss haunted the visiting side a minute later. Thierry Henry showed some individual brilliance by pushing the ball deep into the Fire’s final third, and unleashing a cross that Wright-Phillips one-timed into the back of the net for the 2-1 halftime lead.
Chicago looked a much different side in the second half and they turned the one-goal deficit into a 3-2 lead after Quincy Amarikwa and Shipp scored in the 49th and 54th minutes, respectively.
Amarikwa beat New York Robles with a header off a feed from Jeff Larentowicz and Shipp scored his second of the day with a low shot.
Shipp then added to his banner day by scoring a third in the 58th minute, pickpocketing Kosuke Kimura before slotting a ball into the back of the net.
Down 5-2, the Red Bulls found newfound life after two more tallies from Wright-Phillips. The Englishman finished off a chested pass from Lloyd Sam in the 66th minute, and then converted a penalty kick in the 78th minute that Henry drew.
New York, which switched to a three-man backline in order to push more men forward, had several chances to equalize. Henry hit a header wide in the 81st minute and Wright-Phillips saw a bicycle attempt go right at Fire goalkeeper Sean Johnson just before the death.
Up next for the Red Bulls is their first meeting against the new-look Toronto FC at BMO Field on May 17. The Fire return to action a day later, hosting Eastern Conference leaders and defending MLS Cup champions Sporting Kansas City.
Franco Panizo covers the New York Red Bulls for MLSsoccer.com. He can be reached by email at Franco8813@gmail.com.