Temperatures that felt like 110° at kickoff. A strong opponent who had won four of their last six and stood only a point back in the standings. Minimized home field advantage due to a 1PM Wednesday start time keeping many season ticket holders away. Many sports teams would have melted under the conditions, but the New York Red Bulls pulled off a crucial 1-0 home victory over the Chicago Fire this afternoon thanks to a bit of magic from Thierry Henry.

The lineup did not look extremely different from Sunday's 2-2 draw against Seattle. Bill Gaudette again got the start in goal, as Ryan Meara's hip injury continues to keep the management team cautious. Victor Palsson and Mehdi Ballouchy slotted into midfield roles, and Thierry Henry was paired with Sebastian Le Toux up top.

The absurd heat (announced as 101 degrees at kickoff) combined with the humidity lead to 90 minute of both teams being tentative in their attacks. Chicago, who usually bring a dynamic attack, played conservatively and were easily held back by New York's defense. The Fire managed only a single shot on target the entire game, as Gonzalo Segares late attempt was headed off the line by Brandon Barklage.

New York were slow out the gate but gradually built to an attacking crescendo. Sebastian Le Toux had at least three strong scoring chances but was unable to finish any of them. Mehdi Ballouchy popped off shots from distance, forcing Sean Johnson into action. The insertion of firecracker rookie Connor Lade in the 61st minute gave the Red Bulls more energy on the attack, making runs and stretching Chicago's defense.

In the 71st minute, the Red Bulls found their goal. Lade brought the ball up midfield and passed to Sebastian Le Toux, who sent a long floating ball to Thierry Henry. The French superstar chested the ball into the box, and after a single bounce struck a powerful volley with his left foot. The ball dinged off the woodwork and in for Thierry's 10th goal of the season (watch it), the first since his hamstring injury against New England in April. Titi, rarely a man for elaborate goal celebrations, could be seen brushing the dirt off his shoulders as his teammates joined him to celebrate.

The critical three points against a close conference opponent move the Red Bulls (10-5-5) into second place in the East, just a single point behind Sporting Kansas City. It was the team's fourth shutout of the year, the last having been against Houston in May. More than just table position, the determination and spirit the team showed to get their first win in four tries will undoubtedly help their spirits going into the final game in the three-games-in-one-week trial: hosting the Philadelphia Union on Saturday.

POST-MATCH REACTIONS

Coach Hans Backe, on what bringing Connor Lade into a match does: "Connor is absolutely flying. Every time he comes on or starts games, he will make a difference. His work ethic, his pressing game - he's been much more composed overall, and I think he will just - because he's a clever guy, he will definitely improve all the time."

Sebastian Le Toux, on performance: "I missed a lot tonight. I can say, I can progress a lot, especially with my finishing. Playing on top, I'm just happy I create some opportunity today, and unfortunately they didn't went in, but Thierry has got a great goal. He was great. Everybody was happy, and seeing it go in was great for everybody. I'm just going to now work on my finishing and hope to get some more goals on Saturday and win the game."

Thierry Henry on his goal: "It's exactly what you saw. I made a move, control the ball, great pass. You know, striker instincts - I went for goal, and the ball went in the back of the net. I tried in the first half with my right and I disturbed a fan over there, put the ball in the stands...sometimes they go in, sometimes they don't. But I'm never scared to try anything. That's me. Like I said on MSG before, I needed to do something. I was pretty useless recently, because of injuries or obviously not delivering. Obviously had to do something today."

Dax McCarty on the conditions: "The first half was brutal. Certainly Dallas and Houston like, way up there. Wasn't so much the heat, but just the humidity, it was really bad. The second half was not so bad actually - it seemed like there was a little bit of cloud cover, maybe the slightest breeze you could feel. But yeah, it was a tough one for sure. You find out a lot about your guys, you find out a lot about your teammates, and guys really dug deep. Look, it's the type of result you have to win - midweek game, this type of temperature, it takes one moment of brilliance. Luckily we got that."

Bill Gaudette on the team's form: "The guys did a great job. Everybody, not just the defense - midfielders and forwards. With the conditions out there, it took a deep effort by the team to really get this result. A lot of hard work - can't say enough about the boys, they did a great job. Really limited Chicago's chances to almost none. Brandon makes a great save off the line - those are the plays you're going to need throughout the season to win games, especially conference games and games like this in these conditions. Fair play to the boys, we deserved it. Thierry obviously scores goal of the year, unbelievable, but that's the player that he is. The boys did the rest just to grind it out, and that's what you're going to have to do."

Next Match: Saturday, July 21 2:30 PM, vs Philadelphia Union (TV: ESPN, ESPN Deportes)