Late Santos brace lifts Fire past Red Bulls

MaiconSantos (Getty)


BRIDGEVIEW, Ill.– With less than ten minutes left in Sunday’s Eastern Conference showdown, it looked like the Chicago Fire and New York Red Bulls were headed towards a draw at Toyota Park.

But two pristine finishes from Chicago substitute Maicon Santos in the 83rd and 89th minute sent the Fire to their first win of the season, a 3-1 victory against the visiting Red Bulls.

Santos’ goals completed a three-goal rally that began with a Daniel Paladini header just before halftime that canceled out a Jamison Olave score for New York.

The second half showed a Fire team desperate to secure all three points, and when Santos entered the match he helped spearhead a late surge that capitalized on late-game Red Bulls defensive breakdowns to help Chicago earn the team’s first win and drop the Red Bulls to 0-7-3 all-time at Toyota Park.

“More than anything I never lost belief in the group,” said Fire head coach Frank Klopas, “and neither did our team. The important thing is we kept working hard. The group is united – there is a belief with the group.”

New York started the scoring in the 17th minute when Jamison Olave finished a backwards volley after a couple of headers in the box from Tim Cahill and Brandon Barklage.

Fire striker Chris Rolfe nearly answered back with a penalty kick in the 24th minute, but his shot rolled wide left. Rolfe led the Fire in goals last season, but is now scoreless through five games in 2013, and ten going back to last year.

But right before half, the Fire did find its equalizer when Paladini headed in a cross from Hunter Jumper in the 44th minute.

“We came in with a game plan not to give a goal up,” Paladini said. “It happens, but I think we matured as a team today.”

Jumper floated in a cross from distance that was held up a bit in the wind, allowing Paladini to beat Red Bulls goalkeeper Luis Robles to the ball.

Paladini would finish with a goal and two assists, calling the performance his “best game as a pro.”

“It was probably the most fun I’ve had in a long time. It was a team effort and we all played well.”

Santos, who replaced Sherjill MacDonald in the 63rd minute, was the recipient of Paladini’s two assists.

In the 83rd minute, Paladini put Santos through on the left side of the box. Santos cut back around Olave and then Robles, calming placing the ball in the back of the net to make it 2-1.

“It feels nice not just for me but for the whole team,” Santos said. “It feels nice to get three points at home and celebrate the win.”

Santos finished off the game for the Fire in the 89th minute at the far post when he put in Jeff Larentowicz’ header from across the box. Paladini had served the ball in to Larentowicz.

With Dilly Duka, Patrick Nyarko, and others returning soon from injury, both Santos and Paladini are making strong cases for the starting eleven.

“That’s not my choice, that’s the coaches choice,” Santos said about the possibility of starting next week. “I’ll keep doing my work and I’ll be there for whatever the club needs.”

New York certainly had its share of chances against the Fire, particularly from Peguy Luyindula. Starting for the injured Fabian Espindola, Luyindula had four or five quality chances, but couldn’t get one past Fire goalkeeper Sean Johnson.

Thierry Henry came on for the Red Bulls in the 61st minute and immediately made his presence felt. In the 69th minute he cut across the top of the box and curved a shot that hit the left post that would have given the Red Bulls the lead. The rebound fell to Luyindula, who again could not find the target.

Henry seemed to hobble after that opportunity and was ineffective the rest of the way.

“I think we just lost momentum in the second half,” said Red Bulls forward Tim Cahill. “We learned our lesson today that maybe we were trying to chase the game and go and win it, and in the end we got caught.”

New York, 1-3-2 on the season, will travel to D.C. United next Saturday in a rematch of a scoreless home draw last month.

“I think it’s the way we lost, not that we lost today,” Cahill added. “We are better than that collectively. The mindset is we’ve got a lot of good pros who have played in big stages. We need to lift the lads up – all of us.”

Chicago, now 1-3-1, will look to build on its first win of the season as it travels to Houston next Sunday. Klopas hinted the team could have Arne Friedrich, Duka, and Nyarko back in the team, giving him a number of options, and some tough decisions, when they face the Dynamo.

“I give my team a lot of credit,” Klopas said. “We have a long way to go, but the effort, the attitude, and the work goes in every day.”

  • elgringorico

    Why did Ben olsen stop playing Santos? The offense was great last year with him then he just benched him. Good on him for these 2 nice goals today


    • wilyboy

      He just stopped scoring. For the first few months, he was in the conversation for golden boot. Then he got a slight injury, and the streak just ended.

      You know what you’re going to get with Santos, you just don’t know when you’re going to get it. When he played for DC, he had two nick names: Maicon F Santos (guess what the F stood for) when he was the Hulk, and Mike Sanders when he played below par for the average MLS starter.

      Olsen didn’t like the inconsistency. That’s why he kept Pajoy. Because the sole virtue of the ineffectual is consistency.


      • jay nt

        so frustrating

        he might never have regained his early season form but there is no way Pajoy should still be on this team, still be starting, AND still be making 200K a year


  • ChiTown

    Uh… that French striker for NYRB is honestly awful in so many ways. I actually felt safe with him in front of our net.


  • ChiPersianFilipino

    This is what I dislike about the MLS. The parity will ultimately damage the league. When the MLS promotes their league to the casual fan, they tend to market the teams that have enjoyed prior success (e.g., Sounders, LA, Sporting KC, Houston, DC, etc.). Yet, when said teams fall on their face by constantly struggling against league also-rans (e.g., Rapids, Fire), MLS’ reputation in terms of quality and progression is at stake. Ultimately, MLS needs their supposed “elite” teams to consistently succeed in order to grow brand recognition and expand team legacy.


    • NY supporter

      I’m confused by this arguement. You want to make the league boring like EPL results (not play) where only 3 -5 teams ever hope to win? Man U has won about 12 of the 20 titltes. The rest have gone to basicaly Arsenal and Chelsea with last year a switch with newly ascendant and ($$) Man City.
      THe partiy makes it exciting because anyone can win.


      • drew11

        Agreed. This is just another version of the whole pro/rel fan boy posts. If your team is not one of the theoretical Big 4 MLS super clubs, then what? Super clubs are the surest way to limit the growth of the sport in the US. The idea that the team you support should have a goal of being in the upper half of the league is totally foreign to US sports fans. That may work in Stoke with 120 years of history. It will never work in Houston.


    • T P

      I couldn’t disagree more. Your view seems to be based on maybe the last 4 or so years of MLS, in which the Fire have, admittedly, been below average. Before then, calling them an “also-ran” and calling SKC (or rather the Wizards) a premier team would have been just silly. For further example, the Revolution have been awful for a bit, but 5-10 years ago were among the best.

      The parity is what makes the league great. There are still “premier” teams, but instead of being the team that is guaranteed to win or challenge for the regular season/playoff title every year without fail (like European leagues), they are the teams with deeper pockets for DPs (NY, LA), large/rabid fan bases (SSFC, PTFC), and recent success (Houston, SKC). Of course MLS, as a company, is going to pander to those teams, but it doesn’t mean those teams should be allowed to not have competition or to have guaranteed success. Lest we forgot, the Red Bulls have won absolutely nothing ever, and yet you say their losing to a team who have won 4 Open Cups, 1 MLS cup and 1 Supporter’s Shield in the last 15 years is a sign of weakness of the league…


  • Michael F SBI Mafia Original

    !7 years and the NYRB are exactly the same. Terrible. Change their name and they are still terrible. Change their uniforms and they are still terrible. Change their coach, their players and the front office and they are still terrible, terrible and terrible. I need a new team to follow, any suggestions? And no I am not fair weather. I’m just filled with 17 years of frustration. Robles is a chicken sh*t. He should have come out on the first goal and taken his head off. On the next two he could have come out and made himself bigger, not smaller – which is what he did. And Lyiduval or whatever his name is – absolute joke. I’m done wasting my time watching them.


  • barnie

    hope frankie see’s the difference in santos and Mac. Hopefully Santos starts next week,as far as i’m concerned he can leave Mac at home.


  • Brain Guy

    1. Robles is a liability. No presence, too timid, weak on first goal.
    2. Holgersson is *still* a liability. Beaten on first and third goals, too slow. I hope Petke was just being nice when he said he thought Holgersson “did well.”
    3. Luyindula has already botched a season’s worth of good chances. And what’s with the strategy of pretending he’s a target forward and pumping balls in the air to him?
    4. Is Juninho’s contribution worth the absence of defense? Poor McCarty is going to die trying to cover the whole midfield.
    5. Lloyd Sam, or anybody, needs to start. RBNY wing play = non-existent.


  • omarvelous

    I’ve been saying Robles isn’t impressive for ages, hopefully now people will agree with me


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