Published on April 30th, 2017 | by Ryan Voyles0
Frustration: Chicago Fire let themselves down in 2-1 loss to New York Red Bulls
Missed opportunities over a frustrating 90 minutes prevented the Men in Red from escaping from New York with a single point Saturday night, as the Chicago Fire fell to the New York Red Bulls 2-1.
The current three-game road trip from Hell has lived up to its name, as the Fire have lost their second match on the road – and three of their four road matches this season.
The old adage of ‘close only counts in horseshoes and hand grenades’ crossed my mind as I watched the match Saturday, as the Fire squandered a number of chances to put themselves in a prime position to hand the Red Bulls their first regular season home loss in over a year. But a variety of factors, from mishits off the foot of a disappointing Luis Solignac to great defensive efforts from goalkeeper Luis Robles and the Red Bulls backline, contributed in preventing the Fire from going on an offensive parade.
The match opened with both teams testing one another, with the Fire having more of the deadly scoring opportunities. Yet it was the Red Bulls who got on the scoreboard first, with a little assist from the Fire and Juninho.
After a clinical passing sequence from the Bulls midfield, it looked as though Juninho put himself in the best position to break it up with a quick step into the passing lane. But his jab at the pass instead found itself going straight to Daniel Royer, who sent a mini-cross to a streaking Bradley Wright-Phillips, who did his thing and put the ball past Jorge Bava to send the Red Bulls into the locker room with a 1-0 lead.
That scoreline would hold for 20 minutes, but it was none other than the returning Dax McCarty who helped level the score for the Fire. The longtime Red Bulls captain found himself with the ball in the advanced midfield, and he soon went to work showing off some fancy footwork to show the Bulls what they were missing. He eventually found an open Nemanja Nikolic streaking into the left side of the box, and the Hungarian struck it past Robles and put the Fire on the board and smelling blood.
From there, both teams were off to the races with various dangerous chances as the game opened up. The Fire had a chance to go up in the 65th minute, but Solignac butchered a clean look at goal after a nifty short cross from David Accam put Solignac one-on-one with Robles from six yards out.
The dagger into the Fire’s heart came in the 71st minute, when the Red Bulls found what would turn out to be the game-winning goal. I’ll recap it momentarily, but I have the sense most Fire fans can imagine how it came to be.
As they did most of the match, the Red Bulls attacked the Fire’s right side, and in the 71st minute a through pass found Kemar Lawrence unguarded on the wing as Michael Harrington decided he wanted to become a center back for still unknown reasons. Lawrence rushed into the box, and put a back-post shot past a flat-footed Bava to put the home side up for good.
But for one glimmering moment, it looked as though McCarty would get his revenge and help the Fire steal a point in the dying minutes of the match. In what could have been poetic justice, McCarty got his head on a free kick in the 88th minute and very nearly leveled the score. But like most everything else on Saturday, the free kick was just a few inches too high and McCarty was not able to direct the ball toward net.
The word of the day is ‘frustration’ as it is unavoidable not to feel that way after seeing the road team go into the fortress known as Red Bull Arena and do everything necessary to win except put the ball in net. Unfortunately, the whole scoring thing is a pretty big deal when it comes to winning and the Fire could not do enough of it to get any points.
The Fire will look westward for any hope to salvage any points on this road trip, heading to the City of Angels to face the Galaxy next Saturday night.