BRIDGEVIEW, Ill. – Two defensive miscues by the Chicago Fire allowed the New York Red Bulls to walk away from Toyota Park with a late point Sunday.
On a night when the visitors struggled to break down the Fire and lost captain Dax McCarty to a first-half injury, Bradley Wright-Phillips scored in the 90th minute to seal a 2-2 draw after a Matt Polster own goal provided the other tally for the Red Bulls. Polster and David Accam scored for Chicago.
The Red Bulls went ahead, 1-0, in the 16th minute when miscommunication between Polster and goalkeeper Sean Johnson led to an own goal. Mike Grella curled a soft cross from the left and Johnson looked set to claim the bouncing ball, but Polster lunged to clear and instead deflected it past Johnson and into the goal.
“It looked like Sean was going to have it but then it kind of hung up there,” Polster said. “So then last second I went for it and just a little miscommunication. I didn’t hear anything but I also should have just cleared it myself. I think sometimes you have to take it into your own hands and just do it. I second guessed myself and that’s on me.”
The visitors controlled the majority of the possession but were outshot in the first half by the Fire, who grew into the game, especially as injuries unsettled the Red Bulls.
First, Luis Robles went down with what appeared to be a non-contact left leg injury but stayed in the game after receiving treatment. A bigger blow came when Dax McCarty had to leave the game in the 42nd minute after a yellow-card tackle by Khaly Thiam.
“We’re hopeful that Dax is going to be OK,” Red Bulls head coach Jesse Marsch said afterward. “It was, I thought, a bad tackle, one in my mind worthy of a red card. This has been an emphasis in the league, cutting out these kinds of tackles and Dax is a big player, an important player, so you hope a tackle like that doesn’t lead to a really bad injury. We’re hopeful that he’s going to be OK.”
By that point, the Fire had already tied the score in the 35th minute. Michael de Leeuw knocked down a long ball to Accam in the middle of the field. The Ghanaian looked off Polster overlapping to his left, cut back onto his right foot and beat Robles with a low shot from the top of the arc.
The hosts then went ahead in first-half stoppage time, when Polster made amends with a goal of his own. John Goossens played an inch-perfect cross in from the the right wing and Polster was at the back post to meet it with a diving header, making it 2-1.
Chicago had the ball in the back of the net a second time in the six-minutes of first-half stoppage time, but de Leeuw was whistled for pushing off to create the space for his header.
The Red Bulls pushed for an equalizer and it finally came in the 90th minute with another bit of help from the Fire defense. Connor Lade played a cross in from the right and when Michael Harrington slipped, Wright-Phillips had space to finish past Johnson and steal a point with his 12th goal of the season.
“It was one of the rare times that we had space on the flank, so when Connor got it my eyes kind of lit up,” Wright-Phillips said. “I know he can deliver a good ball so I just wanted to get to the front post. I think Felipe got a little touch on it which might have helped my cause and I just tried to get a nice firm touch behind it and find the corner.”
MAN OF THE MATCH
Chicago’s Matt Polster bounced back from his early mistake and ended up netting his first career MLS goal in first-half stoppage time.
MOMENT OF THE MATCH
In the 90th minute, Bradley Wright-Phillips volleyed home Connor Lade’s cross to earn a draw for the visitors.
MATCH TO FORGET
New York goalkeeper Luis Robles was bothered by a leg injury in the first half and proceeded to give up two goals over the final 10 minutes of the opening 45.
Did Zubar not know that Accam is pretty much the only Chicago player who can create his own shot like that?! Oy.