Fire vs. Red Bulls: Match Night Commentary

Fire vs. Red Bulls: Match Night Commentary

MLS- New York Red Bulls

Fire vs. Red Bulls: Match Night Commentary

Chicago Fire - JPEGNew York Red Bulls - JPEG

The New York Red Bulls have traveled to the Midwest this weekend to take on the Chicago Fire tonight (9pm, ESPN2) in the rekindling of a rivalry that has been rather one-sided in recent years.

Tonight's match has special significance because it could be the first match to feature five Designated Players. Four will be in their team's starting lineups, with the Red Bulls starting Thierry Henry and Juan Pablo Angel alongside newly-signed Mexican star Rafael Marquez.

The Fire won't be unveiling its own Mexican star, Nery Castillo, just yet. Castillo is on the bench for tonight's match, though he will be available to make his Fire debut. Swedish midfielder Freddie Ljungberg will be in the lineup tonight as the fourth Designated Player taking part from the start.

I will be providing commentary on tonight's match throughout the evening so please feel free to follow along. As always, you are welcome to share your thoughts, opinions and some play-by-play in the comments section below.

Enjoy the action (Commentary is after the jump):

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FINAL– That's all for tonight. Please feel free to share your post-game thoughts in the comments section below. 

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FINAL- Rafa Marquez showed some rust, but also showed the qualities that should make him a force in midfield for the Red Bulls, while Henry was looking frisky and destined to score before a first-half groin strain sidelined him.

Mac Kandji squandered a handful of quality chances, while Sean Johnson stopped the rest.

For Chicago, Freddie Ljungberg looked good, though the team definitely missed Patrick Nyarko's energy tonight. Nery Castillo made his debut and looked like a player who hasn't played much in a year. He definitely needs some time to get fit.

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FINAL- Fire 0, Red Bulls 0. Rookie Sean Johnson saved the Fire tonight on a night when New York played better after Designated Players Thierry Henry and Rafael Marquez left the match. 

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93rd Minute– Richards absolutely shanks a potential volley attempt. Looks like time has run out.

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92nd Minute– For all the Designated Players in this game, it's a rookie stealing the show.

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91st Minute– SAVE JOHNSON!! Stops an Angel header. The kid is ON FIRE!!

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90th Minute– SAVE JOHNSON!! Stops a Tim Ream curling blast.

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90th Minute– Red Bulls corner after a long-range Stammler blast forces a Johnson save.

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89th Minute– There was a point when the Red Bulls appeared to be lagging, but they've really turned it on these final ten-fifteen minutes.

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87th Minute– Those wondering about Angel's future. I'd book him coming back in 2011, though not as a Designated Player.

Red Bulls keep pushing. Fire holding on.

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85th Minute– Red Bulls showing some urgency, they're pushing hard for a winner.

Johnson lucky to avoid a problem when he failed to clear a corner out of the area.

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83rd Minute– Angel JUST wide. Wow, Fire dodged a bullet there.

Fire have been VERY lucky not to have CJ Brown cost them a goal tonight.

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81st Minute– Fire rookie Sean Johnson has been solid tonight. Hasn't faced a barrage of shots, but he's made key saves when he needed them.

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80th Minute– Salou Ibrahim is in for Tony Tchani.

Fire look sharper at this point in the match. Red Bulls look a bit tired as a team.

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75th Minute– Spoke too soon about Ljungberg. He has enough to make a surging run forward and draw a foul. This group can pass the ball, but is missing a target player.

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74th Minute– Ream has had an awful night passing the ball.

Castillo hasn't looked particularly good since coming in. He's in a tough spot as the high forward in this lineup right now.

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72nd Minute– Figure struggling a bit right now to keep possession. Red Bulls aren't doing much with their possession either.

Will Kandji finally finish one of his chances? He looks like the Red Bull most likely to score at this point, unless someone can provide Angel with some service.

Chicago need a big target up top. Will Carlos De Los Cobos insert Collins John?

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68th Minute– SAVE JOHNSON!! Stops an Angel blast. Red Bulls corner.

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67th Minute– Game has really opened up here.

Ljungberg looks out of gas.

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65th Minute– I'll agree with Taylor Twellman's observation that Marquez brings composure to the midfield. He's strong on the ball and creates a reliable outlet for his teammates. The Red Bulls are missing him already.

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64th Minute– Red Bulls do well to deal with the free kick.

Richards stumbles in the area, but Baldomero Toledo determines there's no foul there.

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63rd Minute– Fire with a free kick.

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61st Minute– Seth Stammler comes in for Marquez. He showed the expected rust, but you saw flashes of what he can do for the attack. He can definitely pass, but he's definitely not fully sharp yet. He'll need a few weeks to get to his top form.

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60th Minute– Tchani has been largely invisible tonight. He's not alone.

Red Bulls earn another corner.

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59th Minute– Red Bulls can't put a shot on frame. They have yet to really test Sean Johnson aside from a Mac Kandji shot from a tight angle in the first half.

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58th Minute– Red Bulls corner. Marquez will take it. Yes, he's still in the game.

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57th Minute– Fireworks greet Castillo's debut. Can he help spark an attack that has lost its spark after a promising start to the match.

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56th Minute– Okay folks, it took an hour but I was able to remove some malicious code that was keeping me from posting the live commentary. Hopefully we stay in the clear.

Still scoreless. As you know by now, Thierry Henry left the match just before halftime with a slight groin strain. Red Bulls have been more active in the second half, but Kandji has missed some golden opportunities since moving up top.

Nery Castillo is set to make his MLS debut. He's in the match now.

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HALFTIME– Fire 0, Red Bulls 0. Chicago had some better passing, while the Red Bulls had some chances for shots, but couldn't really test Sean Johnson. 

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12th Minute– Marquez is asking for the ball quite a bit, but his passing hasn't really been sharp early. Roy Miller also looks shaky for the Red Bulls.

Ljungberg looks good early. Very active to start this match.

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8th Minute– Marquez and Tchani need to be careful not to stay too deep because it creates too much of a gap between them and the attack. They need to pick their spots to get forward.

Kandji just skied a shot. He looks anxious tonight.

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6th Minute– Fire come close with a set piece but Husidic has his back-post volley blocked by Carlos Mendes.

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6th Minute– Marquez has yet to really get involved, just got stripped by Husidic.

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4th Minute– Both teams still feeling each other out. Not much in the way of a build-up for either side yet.

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1st Minute– We're underway.

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PRE-GAME– Interested to see rookie goalkeeper Sean Johnson in net again. A big stage for the kid kid. Will he step up?

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PRE-GAME– It will be interesting to see what kind of shape Marquez is in. He's trained just a week with his new club, but Hans Backe liked what he saw enough to give him the start tonight.

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PRE-GAME– Anyone else think Taylor Twellman almost said, "He can score with his hand" when talking about Henry?

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PRE-GAME– As much as stopping Ljungberg is key for the Red Bulls defense, Pappa is vital to the Fire attack. He can pop up on either wing and will be a handful for Albright and Miller. He's the key to Chicago having success tonight, at least from an offensive standpoint.

Defensively, Conde needs to have a monster game, and Brown needs to turn the clock back and use his smarts to stay in good positions. If he doesn't, Henry and Angel will make him pay.

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PRE-GAME– C.J. Brown has had a great career with the Fire, but he'll be considered the weak link in the battle against the DP combo of Henry and Angel. Logan Pause will be dropping back quite a bit to help out tonight.

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PRE-GAME– Chicago will be without Patrick Nyarko, who is sidelined with symptoms of a concussion. That's a big loss for the Fire, who are starting Mike Banner in his place.

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PRE-GAME– With Tchani in the starting lineup alongside Marquez, I can't really see the Red Bulls in a diamond formation. I know some folks have thrown that formation around as the Red Bulls' likely plan, but not with this group.

Having Marquez and Tchani deep will help counter the Fire's abundance of creative players in the middle, with Ljungberg and Husidic. Red Bulls will take their chances with their front four being able to trouble the Fire's defense.

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PRE-GAME– Here are tonight's starting lineups:

RED BULLS

—————Henry———Angel—————

—–Lindpere ———————-Kandji ——-

————–Tchani—–Marquez—————-

Miller——–Ream——-Mendes——Albright

——————–Coundoul———————-

BENCH- Sutton, Petke, Borman, Stammler, Ibrahim, Richards, Ubiparipovic

FIRE

———————McBride———————-

Banner——Husidic——-Ljungberg—–Pappa

———————Pause————————-

Krol———-Conde——-Brown——-Robinson

———————Johnson———————-

BENCH- Dykstra, Umanzor, Kinney, Bone, Castillo, Carr, John

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