HARRISON, N.J. — Coming into Saturday night’s match at Red Bull Arena, the Chicago Fire and New York Red Bulls had combined for 25 ties. Unsurprisingly, the league leaders in draws split the points in an exciting and unpredictable 2-2 result between the Eastern Conference foes.
After two first half goals by Chicago put the Red Bulls down 2-1, New York was able to equalize in the 63rd minute after a nifty interchange.
Second half substitute Juan Agudelo smartly won a header in Chicago’s penalty area that fell to Joel Lindpere at the top of the area. Lindpere squared the ball to Dane Richards on the right flank who returned a centering pass to Lindpere. The Estonian international one-timed Richards ball with his left foot past Chicago’s Sean Johnson for his sixth goal of the season.
With the tie, the Red Bulls add another point to their 6-6-13 record. New York have won just once in their last 11 league matches. Chicago remains stuck on two wins this season with a 2-7-14 record.
Lindpere’s heroics salvaged a point for the Red Bulls when it looked like Chicago might walk out of Red Bull Arena with a road win earned against the run of play. Thierry Henry’s swerving right-footed shot from 20 yards out, off a backpass from Richards, had given the hosts a 1-0 lead just nine minutes into the game, but the Fire rode out a wave of pressure from the Red Bulls to find an equalizer. Hitting New York on the counterattack, Patrick Nyarko found space on the left flank and got in behind the Red Bulls backline. Nyarko sent a pass across the face of goal where former Red Bulls forward Dominic Oduro, traded from the team in 2009, had split the centerbacks. The speedy forward tapped a shot past Chris Konopka, making his first ever MLS start, for his seventh goal of the season.
Despite some good sustained buildup and pressure from New York, Chicago then grabbed a lead eight minutes later that they took into the lockerroom at halftime.
Argentine midfielder Sebastian Grazzini scored his first ever MLS goal in a quick buildup that he started with his own vision. Grazzini initiated the play when, near midfield, the Fire’s No. 10 slipped a ball to Marco Pappa, who then sprang Patrick Nyarko with a nifty thru ball. Konopkamade a save on Nyarko’s shot but the deflection fell right onto the path of Grazzini.
With a deft touch, Grazzini pounced on the ball and bounced a goal into the back of the net for a 2-1 lead.
The 2-2 result leaves New York wanting as the home side produced quality chances on either side of halftime and tallied 17 shots on Chicago’s goal.
In the first half alone, the Red Bulls had three quality chances to score off set pieces when in the 18th minute Tim Ream’s header off a McCarty cornerkick just went over the crossbar. Then in the 27th minute, McCarty’s cornerkick found Rafa Marquez, whose header forced Sean Johnson into an athletic save as he tipped the shot over the crossbar. And in the 31st minute, McCarty almost turned provider again, but Albright’s header on another corner kick bounced a yard wide of the Fire goal.
A fourth quality chance came off another first half set piece when a Miller pass in the 34th minute found Richards open at the top of the area, but the Jamaican international’s right-footed shot hit off the post.
But the tie failed to satisfy either team, not only New York. The Red Bulls have gone five matches without recording a win, while the Fire have gone eight. New York will look to rebound from another home draw next Saturday as they travel to Foxborough to take on the New England Revolution. Chicago begin a three game homestand this Thursday against D.C. United before a weekend match with Toronto FC.
NY -- Thierry Henry 12 (Dane Richards 6, Dax McCarty 4) 9
CHI -- Dominic Oduro 7 (Patrick Nyarko 6) 16
CHI -- Sebastian Grazzini 1 (unassisted) 24
NY -- Joel Lindpere 6 (Dane Richards 7) 63
Chicago Fire -- Sean Johnson, Jalil Anibaba, Yamith Cuesta, Dan Gargan, Gonzalo Segares, Logan Pause, Sebastian Grazzini (Diego Chaves 67), Pavel Pardo, Marco Pappa (Cristian Nazarit 73), Dominic Oduro, Patrick Nyarko (Orr Barouch 56).
Substitutes Not Used: Corben Bone, Josip Mikulic, Daniel Paladini, Jon Conway.
TOTAL SHOTS: 9 (Dominic Oduro 3); SHOTS ON GOAL: 5 (Dominic Oduro 3); FOULS: 11 (4 tied with 2); OFFSIDES: 3 (3 tied with 1); CORNER KICKS: 5 (Sebastian Grazzini 2, Marco Pappa 2); SAVES: 3 (Sean Johnson 3)
New York Red Bulls -- Chris Konopka, Chris Albright, Rafael Marquez, Tim Ream, Roy Miller, Dane Richards, Mehdi Ballouchy (Stephane Auvray 60), Dax McCarty (Juan Agudelo 60), Teemu Tainio, Joel Lindpere, Thierry Henry.
Substitutes Not Used: Corey Hertzog, Stephen Keel, Carlos Mendes, John Rooney, Alex Horwath.
TOTAL SHOTS: 20 (Mehdi Ballouchy 4, Thierry Henry 4); SHOTS ON GOAL: 6 (Thierry Henry 2); FOULS: 5 (Teemu Tainio 2); OFFSIDES: 3 (3 tied with 1); CORNER KICKS: 11 (Dax McCarty 8); SAVES: 3 (Chris Konopka 3)
CHI -- Sebastian Grazzini (caution; Reckless Tackle) 25
NY -- Joel Lindpere (caution; Dissent) 64
Referee: Jair Marrufo
Referee's Assistants: -C.J. Morgante; Corey Rockwell
4th Official: Fotis Bazakos
Time of Game: 1:50