The Chicago Fire looked primed to be the latest victim of the streaking New York Red Bulls, especially when the visitors scored the first goal on Wednesday night at Toyota Park. Rather than crumble though, the Fire responded and delivered a sorely-needed victory for the long-suffering Fire fans.
The Fire jumped out to a 2-1 lead, and then after seeing the Red Bulls score on a controversial equalizer, answered back with a game-winner from Kennedy Igboanike to earn a 3-2 victory on Wednesday night.
Igboanike delivered two goals on the night, helping break down a Red Bulls defense that had only allowed three total goals in the team’s six previous matches combined.
The victory snapped a three-match winless streak for the Fire, keeping their faint playoff hopes alive. The three points didn’t pull them out of last place, but did pull them to within two points of sixth-place Montreal for the final playoff spot (though the Impact have three games in hand).
The loss dropped the Red Bulls out of range to catch East-leading D.C. United when the rivals face off on Sunday, though Jesse Marsch’s side can still pull to within two points with a victory (while still having two games in hand).
Igboanike scored the first and third goals for the Fire, torching the Red Bulls defense with a perfectly-timed run to race onto a pass from Gilberto to beat Luis Robles with a 22nd-minute finish.
Chicago’s first goal appeared to slow the Red Bulls down, and the visitors played some of the sloppiest soccer they’ve played in a good while. A Mike Grella turnover led directly to the Fire’s first goal, then Patrick Nyarko answered in the 41st minute when he wound up unmarked in front of goal before beating Robles to give the Fire the lead heading into halftime.
The Red Bulls responded after the break with a trick play on a corner kick that left the Fire fooled, but also apparently a rule broken. Lloyd Sam appeared to softly kick a corner kick, leaving it nearly in the same place before Sacha Kljestan walked over and proceeded to dribble the ball toward the center of the penalty area before he laid off a pass to a wide-open Ronald Zubar, who converted the finish to make the score 2-2 in the 49th minute.
The goal was allowed to stand, though officials from PRO, the official referee’s association, later released a statement clarifying that the Zubar goal should not have stood.
The Fire rendered the officiating error moot in the 73rd minute when Michael Stephens lofted a pass to David Accam down the left flank before Accam found a streaking Igboanike, who collected Accam’s pass and calmly finished for the winning goal.
The Fire will look to build some momentum this weekend, as they travel to Florida to take on Orlando City on Saturday. The Red Bulls return to action at Red Bull Arena on Sunday in a big Eastern Conference clash against D.C. United.
What did you think of the match? Impressed with the Fire? Surprised to see the Red Bulls perform so poorly?
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