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MacDonald brace snaps Fire skid, leaves Red Bulls reeling in East playoff race

SherjillMacDonald (Getty)

The New York Red Bulls have worried about slow starts all season, so when they managed to keep the Chicago Fire off the scoreboard in the first half on Saturday, there was hope for a team that had consistently struggled to take control of matches.

The Red Bulls didn't lose control of the match early on Saturday. They lost control in the second half as the Fire capitalized on their chances, with Sherjill MacDonald punishing the Red Bulls for a pair of goals to lead the Fire to a 2-0 victory at Red Bull Arena.

The victory helped the Fire return to second place in the East, while the Red Bulls' second home loss in three matches dropped them into fourth place with two matches remaining.

The Fire started the match well, controlling the action, but neither they or the Red Bulls could produce truly dangerous chances. The Red Bulls did a good job of pressuring the Fire in the first half, but could not translate into chances.

The Fire grabbed the lead in the 65th minute when Rolfe played in a perfect pass to MacDonald, who slipped in behind the Red Bulls defense to open the scoring. MacDonald added his second just 13 minutes later when Daniel Paladini played him through on a goal that looked close to being offside.

The Red Bulls never could mount a serious challenge to the Fire defense late in the match, and finished the day with just one shot on goal.

Both teams will be off until Oct. 20th, when the Red Bulls play host to first-place Sporting Kansas City, while the Fire take on struggling New England.

Here are the match highlights:

What did you think of the match? Impressed with the Fire's performance in the second half? Starting to wonder if the Red Bulls can avoid the wild card game? Think there's any doubt Hans Backe is gone at the end of the season?

Share your thoughts below.


  1. Chicago defense was able to be so strong because they were allowed to concentrate on the middle. Red bull has no speed at all with Lindpere and Solli as wings.

  2. I am enjoying the fact the DP that everyone made fun of when signed scored a brace and outplayed NYRB’s Dp’s. Cahill was invisible.

  3. Not so fast NYRB fans. As a neutral observer, Henry had a great chance taken away by the Fire’s defense. Those Fire defenders had a huge game and Cooper was taken out of his comfort zone. Give credit where it due: the Fire out played NY and made crucial plays when necessary. The Fire looked vulnerable coming into this match after the two loses and seemed to be on a skid. Although at times the Fire appear disorganized, when they do put it together for those brief moments they quickly become a dangerous team. I wouldn’t want my team to play them in the first round.

  4. Very depressing as a Red Bulls fan. It was less about a lack of hunger or fight, and more about a lack of imagination. Long ball after long ball failed to find Cooper, or Lindpere. Cooper was double-teamed all night and couldn’t turn with the ball and Henry dropped too deep into midfield. They rarely tried any through-balls. This has got to be Backe. He is not adequately preparing the team. I forget where the quote comes from, but he’s been given a Ferrari and he’s using it as a riding mower.

  5. This was a depressing game from an RB fan’s perspective. The team showed very little fight or desire. Some of the glaring weaknesses: 1) Kenny Cooper had a woeful game. His first touch was heavy and he lacked any creativity when he managed to possess the ball. RB’s possesed the ball 60% in the first half but were ineffective in the last 25 yards. He can do better. 2) there was a distinct lack of any wide offensive threats. I was really missing Dane Richards and I guess Sam was hurt.

    Yes, both Chicago goals were soft but the Red Bulls should have had a goal or two by halftime

    Saying that, this is a game they could have won but they just didn’t show any desire or hunger.

  6. On the 2nd goal the defense got flat allowing one pass to beat 3 defenders. “Looked close to being offside” is the same as saying “a perfectly timed run”. The AR was right on the line and did not see offside. MacDonald held his run until precisely the moment the pass was made. This is still one of the most difficult calls to make. The AR has to watch the line of the last defender and the passer at the same time. To me it looked like the official got this one correct.

  7. Doesn’t matter, New York will not win the cup or their conference championship, their defense is paper thin, and you need a good defense to succeed in the playoffs.


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