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Fire 5, Red Bulls 1: The post-game wrap


The Chicago Fire isn’t a team that sits back and counters on the road. Chicago’s approach is to attack and attack against home teams that aren’t used to that sort of aggressiveness from visitors on the road.

The Red Bulls certainly didn’t look like they were ready to deal with the Fire’s attack, which dominated play through most of the first half. A 1-0 halftime deficit gave the Red Bulls the false hope that they could still turn things around, but a second-half barrage erased those hopes and revealed just how flawed the 2008 Red Bulls still are.

Chicago’s 5-1 demolition of the Red Bulls pushes the Fire into a three-way tie for first place in the East with New England and Columbus as it approaches some well-earned rest and a bye week. The Red Bulls must recover, figure out what went wrong, and find a way to go to Houston and win.

The problems for the Red Bulls were all there to see on Sunday. They don’t have a playmaker, a dangerous left winger, a reliable left back or a stalwart central defender. The collective has played above its head through the season’s first seven matches, but Chicago succeeded in exposing all the team’s flaws.

The Fire also happens to be built perfectly to beat the Red Bulls. With Gonzalo Segares capable of neutralizing Dane Richards and the central defense tandem of Wilman Conde and Bakary Soumare boasting the athleticism, size and strength to contend with Red Bull strikers Juan Pablo Angel and Jozy Altidore, it was tough to see the Red Bulls ever really threatening the Fire back-line.

The actual goal barrage by Chicago had more to do with the Red Bulls own failings than their own potency. Yes, the Fire boasts one of the league’s most dynamic attacks, but far more of Chicago’s goals on Sunday came courtesy of awful defensive breakdowns than from beautiful sequences by the Fire.

Juan Carlos Osorio might have been guilty of tinkering a bit too much on Sunday. His decision to start Carlos Mendes in central midfield for, as far as I know, the first time in his career, was truly mind-numbing and a testament to the limited options afforded to Osorio. Starting a career central defender and rookie in central midfield against a player like Cuauhtemoc Blanco should have been considered insane if not for the fact that the Red Bulls just don’t have any other good options.

Would Jozy Altidore, Seth Stammler and Dave Van Den Bergh made a difference today if all had been able to start? Very possibly, but even if all three played it wouldn’t resolve the shaky defending we saw today.

The Fire did to the Red Bulls what it did to D.C. at RFK Stadium and New England at Gillette Stadium, simply overpower them with a collective tenacity, speed and skill that overwhelmed them all. Now if Chicago could play like that at Toyota Park we could basically pencil the FIre in as MLS Cup favorites. The Fire will accept the Road Warriors label for now, but will need to start delivering these type of dominating performances at home eventually.

What did you think of today’s match? Which players stood out? Which players stunk up the joint? Share your thoughts below


  1. RE: “Even fans knew Wanchope shouldn’t have played that game, too bad Osario didn’t!”

    I was at that playoff game, with two people who had never seen an MLS game before. By the 30th min, even they were questioning why Wanchope was still on the field. It was a poor decision on Osorio’s part that cost us a trip to the final, but when asked by the media why Wanchope was left in, Osorio refused to acknowledge his error.

  2. 100% Hamlett outcoached Osario Sunday, OPEN your sleepy eyes. Osario came to the Fire when we had our full team back at 100%. Our late season success was not due Osario’s arrival – it was A) starters healthy and B) Blanco’s arrival. Just wait, you’ll see, he’s not the “soccer genius” people in the States have been fooled to believe. All Osario did was play Wanchope- did you see that game against NE, HE cost us the play-offs. Even fans knew Wanchope shouldn’t have played that game, too bad Osario didn’t!

  3. Chicago Soccer Guy, you’re full if crap. Your boys are off to a great start but haven’t won’t jack yet. You want to try and say he’s a better coach than Osorio? Give me a break. Osorio won with that same group last year. When Hamlett wins a playoff series then talk to me.

    The coach didn’t win the game, Chicago’s better talent won it. Let’s see how we stack up in September.

  4. Bottom line of Sunday’s match- Blame it on whatever you’d like but all that matters is:

    Denis Hamlett A+

    Osario F – maybe D-

    Osario had all of the off season to assemble a winning team for NYRB. He doesn’t have the soccer brain to select players and play them in their “postion” . He thinks he’s smarter than he is and can re-invent the game. Hamlett knows this team and knows how to play to it’s strengths. The only shame is that Hamlett wasn’t given the job last season when Sarachan was let go. But then the Fire fixed that problem as well, B’Bye Guppy, another NY reject!

    The only player on the field Sunday for 90 minutes that wasn’t with the Fire when Osario had the reigns in Chicago was Prideaux. So, Osario had the tools last year, but couldn’t produce what Hamlett has.

    Proving once again- the coach won this game!

  5. Ives

    Que paso ayer con los Red Bulls? I did not see the game, but saw the highlights. I just wanted to say hello and were is the midfield for the Red Bulls on both sides of the ball against the Fire. We know Blanco is a solid player when he decides to play good soccer instead of whinning, yesterday he distributed the ball good and had the Red Bulls out of sync. When are the Red Bulls going to invest in a attacking midfielder that can move up to help the offensive attack and come back to support the defense. The Red Bulls came in as one of the top defense and left as a team with gaping holes or they just didn’t show up for the sunday afternoon game.

  6. Is anybody else under-impressed about the “these things happen” attitude expressed in the post-game interviews. This game is a wake up call, they should be pissed! Oh yeah, we have no GM.

  7. “I agree he went into the game vs Las Chicas too defensively and it cost the Bulls but

    hopefully he is learning from all the tweaking.. These things happen when you have a new coach!”

    Posted by: ag nigrin | May 26, 2008 at 09:06 AM

    Not when your new coach is Denis Hamlett. And I wouldn’t exactly call JCO a new coach, he’s been around. And he’s been playing too defensively and making the wrong calls on line-ups ever since he entered the league. What seems to be becoming clear, is that JCO took over the Fire at the perfect time last year and rode the wave of solid talent to make him seem like a better coach than he is. I’m not saying he isn’t decent, but I do believe he was overrated after last season.

    What a beautiful win.

  8. Battle lost. But the war still has many battles left. Next, bring on Houston & what will be one PISSED off Metro squad. I actually think this pasting will help them in the long run, as they won’t soon forget how horrible losing like this feels. Move on Metro, but never forget what this team did to you.

    Btw, just curious. When did these boards become such a Fire bitch/trollfest haven?? Bueno’s blog is so censored he wont let “unfair” posts whatever that means, which is also ridiculous. But dayum… None of the Sh*tcago fanboys would be posting here if the score were reversed. NONE. Remember the best record in the league means squat in MLS come playoff time. See you then bitches, so hope we draw your straw…

  9. Folks,….I wrote this a few weeks ago and I will write it again:

    The Red Bulls, excluding JPA, Jozy and Reyna, are nothing more than a glorified All-Star team from the Cosmopolitan Soccer League.

    Ives,…when you wrote that the Fire “simply overpower[ed] them with a collective tenacity, speed and skill” what you were saying is that Chicago is a professional soccer team that dominated a team of semi-pros/ameteurs. Red Bull fans should get over it. They are buying tickets to watch a team they could watch for free at the Met Oval.

    BTW – Has RBNY announced a replacement for De Grandpre? I am beginning to think that the Red Bull organization is rethinking its involvement in MLS all together.

  10. No question NYRB (aka Energy Drinks aka EDs) missed van den Berg. He was missed offensively and defensively. The attack (to the extent there was any) was totally unbalanced, trying to push down the right side. Someone above mentioned that Mike Magee is an indicator of NYRB mediocrity. While I agree with that, I’d also have to say that depending upon Dane Richards to accomplish anything except by accident says a lot more about having to accept mediocrity in the place of skill. As for Reyna, his skills are useless when not backed up by a quality central midfielder or fronted by a quality attacking midfielder. Frankly, I don’t quite see how Osorio thought he could possibly win that game with the lineup he put out.

  11. I agree it’s not all JCO’s fault but come on, after reading his comments in the paper about how those to blame will find out in this morning’s practice; How about looking in the mirror and explaining why he continues to play players out of position, his logic about not starting Jozy, etc, etc.

  12. ChiTown, settle down. I believe I gave the Fire more than enough credit. They did dominated the Red Bulls, of that there is no doubt, but they also benefited from some horrendous defensive breakdowns that were a product of a poor effort by the Red Bulls defense. It is one thing for a team to give up goals, but another to give up wide-open looks and deliver any hard challenges and to completely lose marks. Those are a product of a defense not coming to play.

  13. More about the Red Bulls awful defense than the Fire’s attack? C’mon Ives this is such a homer statement not to give credit to the visiting team. This is what good teams do to average and below average teams. The good teams exploit the weaknesses and find ways to win. The Fire dominated this game. This also shows the stories of the Fire not wanting to traded Conde to the Red Bulls were not about the Fire being petty just being a good evaluator of the lack of talented players the Red Bulls have to offer.

    Go Fire

  14. Mike Magee wasn’t good enough in 2003. I can’t believe that five years on, I’m still regularly watching him and, God love him and with respect, Woly, all these years later (we could have used Woly’s heart and tenacity vs. Chicago, actually) I could see them as role players if they’d contributed to any sort of success here, but to me a player like Magee is a posterboy for this team’s mediocrity. The fact that those two are still here, to me, says it all.

    And how much do we miss Dema and Clint right now? Both are well past it but would be a huge upgrade over some of the stiffs we’re trotting out now. Not a good sign.

  15. Does anyone else think that we’d be better off forming next year’s team from a supplemental draft? I mean, JPA, Altidore, and Richards are standouts. I’d keep Borman and Sassano as developmental players. But the rest of the team is either average or poor, including Parke, Conway, both outside backs, and anything we stick in central midfield.

    This franchise needs to cut Reyna loose, spend some dough on a good center back, trade for a decent defensive mid, bring in an attacking mid from Europe or Latin America, and start grooming its youth talent at all positions. Success in MLS can’t be bought, it must be developed.

  16. OK The BUlls stunk up the joint yesterday but I am not feeling the situation is as dire as some you are. All the Bulls came out flat and with no fire (pun intended)! Everyone from Conway to Angel played poorly… Osorio is holding an 8AM practice today and I am sure he will right the ship! I agree he went into the game vs Las Chicas too defensively and it cost the Bulls but

    hopefully he is learning from all the tweaking.. These things happen when you have a new coach!

  17. Let’s see now….We bench our tired Josie even though we are without VDB and Stammler. We mark them a five point lead. Then we put in our tired high scorer! I know there was some logic there but honestly…..I can’t find it. A flat team comes out to one of the biggest crowds of the year (lots of Blanco fans) looking like they couldn’t take the warm beautiful Sunday afternoon it was. Parking and entering the stadium is atrocious. Absolutely the worst food services at any stadium. I am looking for the heart in this team and in this organization! They might as well put back the lines on the pitch for the Giants as this whole experience is sooooo amateur. I don’t know what to suggest to get management’s attention but I guess the empty seats will speak volumes.


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