It was a nine-goal display at Red Bull Arena Saturday night—but the result went the wrong way for New York Red Bulls fans. The winless Chicago Fire found their first result over the season over the disjointed Red Bulls 5-4, snapping New York's thirteen game home unbeaten streak. Bradley Wright-Phillips completed his second hat trick in four games, but it wasn't enough as Chicago rookie Harrison Shipp did the same.
The scoring opens with a blown call. In the fourth minute, Chicago rookie Harrison Shipp played a diagonal ball into the box, looking to find 2013 MVP Mike Magee. Magee was in an offside position, and as the offside flag went up, he opted to not play the ball, watching it skip into the goal past Luis Robles. Referee Kevin Stott somehow didn't consider Magee to have influenced the play, the offside flag went back down, and the goal stood despite copious protest from New York. MSG play-by-play man Steve Cangialosi seemed perplexed by the call:
Mike Petke struggled with the call in his post-match press conference:
"Do I want to get fined? I'm posing a question to myself. Do I want to absolutely bury them, and get a big fine? Or do I want to smile and say 'They've got a hard job to do?' I guess what I'll say is, when I look at the play, and the ball trickles a slow roller across the box, and it beats Luis to the far post...my six year old son upstairs will tell me, 'Daddy, he didn't react to that because somebody was standing right there.' Again, they have hard decisions to make, I guess. But to me, if I was hired as a referee, and I refereed tonight's game, to me, I would've called it an offside. He chose not to call it an offside, so we live with it...I have asked many questions to fourth officials in my short time as a head coach. To be quite honest with you, 90% of the answers I get back, I don't understand. This happened to be one of them."
New York would take control and take a lead into halftime. Tim Cahill, in his last match before he leaves for World Cup duty with Australia, leveled the match just two minutes later with a trademark header.
The Red Bulls would control the remainder of the half, looking calm and comfortable. Thierry Henry would eventually pick off a bad pass from Lovel Palmer, beat Jhon Kennedy Hurtado one-on-one, and pick out a pass to Bradley Wright-Phillips to make the lead 2-1.
All seemed well going into the halftime break.
Four straight Chicago goals as the defense collapses. In the span of twenty minutes, the Fire turned a one goal deficit into a three goal lead, as the New York defense collapsed in the most spectacular fashion.
2-2: Quincy Amarikwa beats Kosuke Kimura to start the drive in the 49th minute, easily heading home a long ball from Jeff Larentowicz.
3-2: Harrison Shipp gets his second four minutes later, as Armando gets muscled off the ball inside his own box and Shipp finds enough space to blast a far-post shot.
4-2: Harrison Shipp completes his hat trick four minutes later again, stripping the ball off Kimura, dribbling into the box, and putting it past Robles from a tight angle.
5-2: We're not even sure this one was intentional. Patrick Nyarko tries to cross the ball to the far post from long distance; instead, it floats in over the head of Luis Robles.
For a defense that had looked so strong over the last month of play, Saturday night was a complete and unmitigated disaster. We're particularly concerned that Luis Robles, he had been the saving grace of the Red Bulls so many times this season, did not get credited with a single save on the evening despite facing 10 shots.
BWP drives the comeback, but New York falls short. The Red Bulls' offense, to their credit, fought tooth and nail to try to erase the mistakes of their back line. Bradley Wright-Phillips would find his second off some beautiful interplay with Lloyd Sam three minutes after Nyarko's bomb. A penalty kick drawn by Thierry Henry would allow Wright-Phillips to complete his second hat trick of the season and put him in the lead for the MLS Golden Boot race.
But they could not find the back of the net for a fifth time, as Sean Johnson made two vital late saves. He denied Thierry Henry one-on-one, and parried away a BWP bicycle kick on the last kick of the evening.
The newest member of the "Liberace Money" club in MLS, Toronto FC became a superpower almost overnight this off-season. Acquiring English striker Jermaine Defoe, US Men's superstar (and former Metrostar) Michael Bradley, and Brazilian's national goalkeeper Julio Cesar before the start of the year, Toronto are no longer the same joke they have been since 2007.
Only one problem: World Cup call-ups will likely keep all three of those superstars out of the lineup when New York comes to town. New York will be out both Tim Cahill and Costa Rican left back Roy Miller, so neither side will be playing full strength next Saturday afternoon at BMO Field. Expect some defensive changes for New York to try and bounce back from a Shipp show performance. (Forgive us this one pun, please.)
Mike Petke on whether there were any positives to take from the game "Yes, I'm going to go and have a vodka. That is a big positive. And let me be clear, very clear, it's tough for me to be critical of my team to be quite honest with you, because every year you got to allow yourself at least a game like this, maybe two, and I have been there before and that's what I told them in the locker room. I told them I have been there before, so it's hard for me to yell at them and hard for me to blow up. I've been on the losing end of a game like this and I have been exhausted after a game like this, like these guys are because they did everything they could to come back. So, I commend that but we're a better team than that. You can't tell me that two weeks ago in D.C. and home to Houston, our ball movement, everything, the way it was. To go from there to here in two weeks, on the night, we weren't good enough. And last thing, I'm not taking anything away from Chicago, they came out like they needed the win and they obviously do. This is their first win of the season, and they came out and their game plan was high energy and try to frustrate us, and they did. So my hats off to them."
Bradley-Wright Phillips on his hat trick: "Yeah, I’m thankful for the boys, they want me to get my goals but today’s not really a day I want
to talk about goals. I think, myself, I started off well in the second half, you know, as a team it doesn’t really matter scoring, I just think as a team we weren’t good enough in the second half."
Thierry Henry: "I thought we got lucky winning against Dallas, and it was around the corner to get punished. I don't know if you were here against Houston, we gave them the exact same chances. The only thing is they didn't score, and today Chicago did. It's difficult to win a game like that, although we could've come back in the game...we have to take it as a team and try to move forward."
Next Match: Saturday, May 17th 4:30 PM, at Toronto (TV: MSG)