Photo by ISIphotos.com
The Chicago Fire stepped onto the field at Toyota Park Thursday night and did to the rival Red Bulls what Ari Gold did to Adam Davies a few weeks ago.
I’d quote the line from Entourage, but this is a PG posting.
As far as the beating the Fire put on New York, that was straight street. Chris Rolfe scored a hat trick in the first half and he set up two more second-half goals. The Red Bulls needed a win to clinch a postseason berth. A tie? That would have gone a long way toward qualification.
But New York instead got trounced, losing 5-2 to the Fire in its regular-season finale. The Red Bulls now fly back home unsure if they played their last game of the season. The fate they controlled is now out of their hands and the Red Bulls become huge Columbus Crew fans.
A D.C. United win at Crew Stadium on Sunday means New York would miss the playoffs completely. A tie or loss by United means the Red Bulls would earn the final wild card berth and play the two-time defending MLS Cup champion Houston Dynamo in the Western Conference Semifinal Series.
Where did it all go wrong? Let’s start with Osorio’s lineup selection.
On Tuesday, the Red Bulls’ coach told reporters that three players waked into his office to plead their case because they weren’t included in Osorio’s starting XI. Well, Osorio’s three prized midseason signings — Gabriel Cichero, Juan Pietravallo and Jorge Rojas — were brutal.
Cichero picked up where he left off against Columbus and Toronto FC and had another howler defensively. There were at least three goals that could be directly attributed to the Venezuelan. With Jeff Parke suspended and Carlos Mendes having sports hernia surgery, the only other option centrally was Diego Jimenez.
"Diego wasn’t feeling 100 percent and I wanted to put the strongest team on the field and decided it was a chance for Gabriel (Cichero) to come back into the starting lineup," Osorio said.
Pietravallo was brought in for his bite in the defensive midfield, but he late to every challenge and was lucky not be sent off. Rojas was invisible as the attacking midfielder and was never a factor.
The Red Bulls were left exposed on a Chicago counter and Rolfe finished for his first goal of the night in the 11th minute. New York came back as Dave van den Bergh fed Juan Pablo Angel, who headed home the equalizer in the 32nd minute.
But Rolfe added two more goals in a six-minute span late in the first half and the Fire went into the locker room with a comfortable 3-1 lead.
"Early on I think we had the right game plan but once we got that one put in against us I think plans changed a little bit and we didn’t handle situations properly," Kevin Goldthwaite said.
Rolfe then turned provider, setting up Brian McBride and Daniel Woolard to give the Fire a 5-1 lead with a quarter-hour left before Mac Kandji, who came off the bench at the half, scored his first MLS goal two minutes from full time.
"Up front I thought Mike Magee worked, in the past, quite well with Juan," Osorio said. "It wasn’t the case today. Sometimes you make decisions like that and sometimes it works for you and sometimes it doesn’t and today it didn’t work out."
Now the Red Bulls, which won just one of their final six regular-season games, are left to wait and hope a Columbus team with nothing to play for to beat or tie a D.C. United side that has been given a life preserver.
"We have the firepower to make a run in the playoffs, we just have to lock a couple of things up and definitely make a run in the playoffs," Goldthwaite said. "We just have make it first."