BRIDGEVIEW, ILL. – The Chicago Fire showed a more complete game than they have most of the season, but it was the play of second-year midfielder Matt Polster that helped Chicago to a draw, despite suffering an own goal early in a 2-2 match against New York Red Bulls Sunday night at Toyota Park.
Polster, who has been one of the bright spots in the midfield for Chicago this season, made an uncharacteristic error in the 17th minute, when a Mike Grella cross fell in the box that both he and goalkeeper Sean Johnson were late reacting to. Johnson came out on the play, but Polster’s sliding attempted clearance deflected into the goal to give the Red Bulls the early lead.
“I didn’t hear anything, and I should’ve just cleared it myself,” Polster said. “Sometimes you have to just take it into your own hands and do it. I second guessed myself and that’s on me.”
Despite Polster’s blunder, the Fire came together and pushed the game as the half wore on. After a David Accam goal in the 35th minute, Polster redeemed himself with his first MLS goal at the end of the half, a diving header past New York goalkeeper Luis Robles that gave Chicago the lead.
“David made a big switch, and I realized that everyone shifted over, so I just went back post and [John] Goossens played a good ball in and I headed it home," Polster said.
Even though the Fire only held 33 percent of the possession, they were able to put more shots on frame than the Red Bulls. Their ability to put shots on target has been an issue, but New York showed their danger when Bradley Wright-Phillips scored a late equalizer with a volley off a Connor Lade cross, sending the Fire home with a point that felt like a loss in what continues to be a tough season in Chicago.
“After losing these two points for me, this is tougher than any other defeat. It’s very difficult for us after the response from the team. We have to get better,” Fire coach Veljko Paunovic said. “It’s still the same issue with conceding goals in the last minutes of the game where I think maturity and mentality comes into play. We did some things very well, but we have to learn how to win games.”