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Chicago Fire 1-1 New York Red Bulls Match Report

With the Eastern Conference leaders New York Red Bulls coming to town, Chicago provided the perfect setting for a soccer match with a packed crowd at Toyota Park on an absolutely gorgeous day. The result? Not so perfect. Marco Pappa equalized for the Fire with a superbly taken goal from outside the box in the 58th minute, but prior to that the Fire had yet to find any luck in front of goal. Pappa’s 5th goal of the season changed that and also sent Toyota Park into a frenzy. Joel Lindpere had opened the scoring late in the first half after Yamith Cuesta failed to properly cope with a defense-splitting through ball from Thierry Henry.

“It’s just about starting off on the right foot so we can control the flow the of the game,” Fire goalkeeper Sean Johnson said. “It’s difficult coming from a goal down.”

The Red Bulls, coming off a 4-2 loss in Seattle, could have led by more at the half but Sean Johnson did well to keep the Fire in it with several fine saves. The save of the bunch arrived early in the first half, Henry found Dane Richards in space on the break and his one-time shot was tipped over the bar by Johnson to keep the scores level.

The Fire were quick to respond. Husidic did well to control a long ball near the edge of the box before laying off to Barouch, who ripped a fierce volley over the crossbar. Barouch then followed that up with a low drive from the left side of the penalty box, but his shot on this occasion fizzled harmlessly wide. Seconds later New York was on the attack. De Rosario created space outside the Fire penalty box with a neat turn before laying the ball off to Richards, whose powerful one-time shot was well saved by Johnson.

With just over a half hour played, the Fire came closest to finding a goal so far. A fantastic cut back by Nyarko provided the Ghanaian with space to send in a deep cross towards a wide open Barouch. The Israeli forward’s soft header had Coundoul grounded, only for the ball to bounce inches wide of the far post; a painful miss for a player who has come incredibly close to scoring on a number of occasions in the past few weeks.

The Red Bulls goal would arrive five minutes for the break and at a cruel time for the men in red, who had been causing pressure prior to the goal. The Fire came out of the break intent on finding an equalizer, which they eventually did through Pappa’s fine effort from outside the area. The goal would galvanize the Fire, but the home side were still unable to find the crucial tie-breaker.

New York came close to doing just that in the 72nd minute. After Richards earned the visitors a corner kick, Stephen Keel met De Rosario’s corner kick with a diving header that flew just wide of the post. Diego Chaves, who had entered the match for Barouch immediately following Pappa’s goal, came close to making his mark with a goal but Coundoul was equal to his low drive at the near post.

Both teams pressed for a winner with no luck, although Nyarko had Toyota Park on the edge of their seats with a dangerous run at the New York defense only to fire his shot wide of the post. Oduro managed to do the same in stoppage time, but like Nyarko, his shot was off target.

“‘It’s been a while since I played up front,” Dominic Oduro said. “I’m still getting adjusted to making runs behind the defense. But after a couple training sessions we’ll get it together and I think it will be an excellent role.”

In the end, the Fire can feel proud of coming from a goal down to equalize, but will rue what is now their sixth consecutive home draw.

STATS:

Shots: Chicago – 14 New York – 8

Shots on goal: Chicago – 5 New York – 4

Saves: Chicago – 3 New York – 4

Fouls: Chicago – 13 New York – 13

Corner kicks: Chicago – 6 New York 4

Offsides: Chicago – 2 New York 7

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Chicago Fire vs. New York Red Bulls: Five things to watch for

The Chicago Fire welcome the New York Red Bulls to town on Sunday in a match that pits the league’s leading scorers against one of the most in-form defenses. The Red Bulls, currently in first place in the Eastern Conference, have scored 26 goals this season and face a team who has only given up one goal in its last five matches. Both sides will have to be at their best on Sunday as the league leaders look to strengthen their hold on first place while the Fire, unbeaten in six, look to continue their climb up the table. Kick-off is scheduled for 1:00 p.m. and will be televised on ESPN2.

Form guide:

Chicago: D-D-W-W-W

New York: D-D-W-D-L

Five things to watch for:

1)      Set-pieces – First and foremost, keep an eye on set pieces. Anyone who watched New York’s 4-2 defeat to the Seattle Sounders will know set-pieces was their downfall. Three of the four goals the Red Bulls conceded were off corner kicks and in the end it proved the difference. Well, that and a horrific mistake by Greg Sutton. We’ll get to that later.

2)      Defensively sound – One goal conceded in the last five matches is an incredible stat for the Chicago Fire. Hearing this, an outsider would think the Fire have been soaring up the table. Well, not quite. But seeing the backline find consistency and cut down on its defensive errors is great for the club. The Fire’s defense will face its most difficult test yet against the Red Bulls.

3)      Goal drought – With the Fire’s defense at the top of their game, the offense needs to start scoring in order to turn some of these draws into wins. Christian Nazarith misses out again through suspension, meaning Orr Barouch or Dominic Oduro will most likely get the start alongside Diego Chaves. As the Fire’s main striker now after the departure of Gaston Puerari, Chaves needs to step up and help carry some of that load. He hasn’t scored since the 1-1 home draw against Houston on April 23rd, but now would be as good of a time as any to change that.

4)      Superstar power – After serving his highly publicized one match suspension, Thierry Henry is in line to start against the Fire. Rafael Marquez (Gold Cup), Tim Ream (Gold Cup), Luke Rodgers (injury) and Juan Agudelo (Gold Cup) are all unavailable so a lot of the Red Bulls’ offense will most likely flow through Henry. You don’t need me telling you what he’s capable of, so now it’s just a matter of the Fire’s defense being up for the task. They’ll also need to be focus on shutting down Dwayne De Rosario and Dane Richards.

5)      Blunder at the back – Apart from Roger Levesque’s brilliant Scuba celebration on Thursday night, the main talking point after the Red Bulls’ loss to the Sounders was New York’s goalkeeper, Greg Sutton. With the score at 3-2, Sutton miscontrolled a simple back pass and allowed Levesque to duly slot the ball into an empty net and celebrate in style. New York has struggled in the goalkeeper department all season and the Fire will have a chance to capitalize on that, particularly if Sutton starts. Substitute ‘keeper Bouna Coundoul could get the nod instead, but regardless of who plays, this is a major weakness in an otherwise strong Red Bulls team.

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Scouting Report: Seattle 4-2 New York Red Bulls

Three days before the New York Red Bulls face off against the Chicago Fire, the Red Bulls warmed up for Sunday’s match with a 4-2 defeat at the hands of the Seattle Sounders. The home side scored two quick goals in the first half through Erik Friberg and Osvaldo Alonso, both of which came off corner kicks. Dane Richards pulled one back with a fine effort from outside the box before Jan Gunnar Solli’s terrific solo run in the 58th minute resulted in a Zach Scott own goal to pull things level. Again, New York’s downfall would be set pieces as Roger Levesque nodded past Greg Sutton less than ten minutes after the Red Bull’s equalizer. Sutton may have been helpless for Levesque’s first goal, but he played a major part in the final goal of the match as he miscontrolled a simple back pass to gift Levesque his second goal of the night – for which he was clearly excited about judging by his scuba celebration in front of the Sounders’ faithful.

Thierry Henry (suspended), Rafael Marquez (Gold Cup), Tim Ream (Gold Cup), Luke Rodgers (injury) and Juan Agudelo (Gold Cup) were all absent on Thursday night. Only Henry will be available for Sunday’s match against the Fire.

SCORING SUMMARY:
SEA — Erik Friberg 1 (unassisted) 11
SEA — Osvaldo Alonso 2 (unassisted) 12
NY — Dane Richards 3 (Joel Lindpere 3) 31
NY — own goal (Zach Scott) 58
SEA — Roger Levesque 1 (Leo Gonzalez 1) 67
SEA — Roger Levesque 2 (unassisted) 78

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