BRIDGEVIEW, Ill. – The Chicago Fire can let out a sigh of relief. They won't be the last winless team in Major League Soccer after beating the New York Red Bulls 3-1 at home on Sunday.
Maicon Santos scored twice in the final seven minutes to give the struggling Fire (1-3-1) their first win of the season after Daniel Paladini pulled the hosts out of an early 1-0 hole.
Center back Jámison Olave scored his second goal of the season with an overhead volley in the 17th minute for the Red Bulls (1-3-2), who have never won in 10 all-time meetings at Toyota Park. They also haven’t won in Chicago since 2005, when they were still known as the MetroStars.
Santos came on for starter Sherjil MacDonald in the 63rd minute and was quiet until 20 minutes into his shift. That’s when he took a through pass from Paladini, beat Olave on a cutback move to the inside and poked a shot past Red Bulls goalkeeper Luis Robles for his first goal since joining the Fire from D.C. United in the offseason.
He sealed the win with his second goal in the 89th minute. Midfielder Jeff Larentowicz headed a Paladini free kick across the box, finding Santos open on the back post for a tap-in.
Olave’s goal came after the hard work of midfielder Tim Cahill, who headed a drifting Juninho corner kick back in front of goal. Defender Brandon Barklage skipped another header to Olave, who pivoted and fired his volley past Fire goalkeeper Sean Johnson.
But Paladini brought the Fire back just before the half. When Robles misjudged a Hunter Jumper cross, Paladini lept in front of the Red Bulls goalkeeper and headed the ball into the net to open his 2013 scoring account.
Both teams could have at least one more goal on the day. Fire midfielder Chris Rolfe missed a penalty kick in the 25th minute after Larentowicz's shot hit Jonny Steele's hand in the penalty area. Fire Midfielder Joel Lindpere also missed a golden chance just wide in the 55th minute.
Red Bulls striker Péguy Luyindula struggled much of the day before he was subbed out in the 76th minute. His best chance came in the 32nd, when Juninho skipped a cross into the box from the right flank, but the Frenchman missed with the outside of his right foot from inside the six-yard box.
Thierry Henry also nearly hit the mark in the 68th minute, shortly after he came into the match. But his left-footed blast from distance slammed off the far post.
After wins this weekend by Chicago, Colorado and Portland, the Seattle Sounders are the only winless team remaining in MLS this season.
The Fire hit the road against the Houston Dynamo on April 14, while the Red Bulls play at D.C. United on April 13. Both teams are seeking their first road win of the season.
MLSsoccer.com Men of the Match
|Rank||Player||What We Saw|
|1||Daniel Paladini||Assisted on both goals in the second half, and his ambitous effort in the first half was a lifeline for the Fire.|
|2||Maicon Santos||Okay, so he was silent for his first 20 minutes on the field. But two goals in seven minutes? Game-changer.|
|3||Jeff Larentowicz||Steady as ever for Chicago, just when they needed it.|