Fire Douse Red Bulls, Who Stumble to 2nd Straight 1-0 Defeat

Peter Nolan March 31, 2019 311 Reads

Coming off of a disappointing 1-0 shutout loss at home to last season’s worst in the East, Orlando City, the New York Red Bulls were expected to take their frustrations out on a Chicago Fire team that entered Saturday night’s game in Bridgeview, Illinois looking for its first victory of the season. Instead, New York stumbled to a second consecutive 1-0 loss.

With MLS players returning from the international break, the Red Bulls’ vaunted back four was together for the first time in 2019. However, the quartet of Aaron Long, Tim Parker, Michael Murillo, and Kemar Lawrence (all but Parker represented his country during the break) were disorganized throughout, and could well have conceded more than the Parker own goal that decided the match.

Poor showing by key players

Lawrence raised some eyebrows among Red Bulls watchers when he accepted a call up to Jamaica despite having played just 45 minutes this season for his club due to injury. Those concerns were shown to have some merit when Lawrence limped off the pitch in the 81st minute, replaced by Conor Lade.

The Red Bulls midfield maestro Kaku was also back from playing for Paraguay and from serving a suspension for the Red Bulls. Kaku was needed to provide some badly wanted creativity for a Red Bulls attack that was devoid of ideas last week versus Orlando. Kaku failed to provide much in that department and he and fellow Red Bulls midfielders were overrun in the middle of the park, certainly for the opening 60 minutes of the match.

With New York’s midfield being dominated by a Dax McCarty led Fire group, it was difficult not to notice that NYRB product Tyler Adams picked up a spectacular assist in RB Leipzig’s 5-0 win over Hertha Berlin in the Bundesliga Saturday afternoon.

Marc Rzatkowski has gotten the first shot at filling the void left when Adams took his talents to Leipzig, with players like Sean Davis also expected to pick up some of the slack. The Red Bulls are also high on 19-year-old Cristian Cásseres Jr., although coach Chris Armas has been cautious with the young Venezuelan.

With the team struggling in defense and in the midfield it was always going to be a tough night for the Red Bulls attack, but leaving out a 4-0 shellacking of a dreadful San Jose side, New York has scored just one goal in four games, and scoring ace Bradley Wright-Phillips has scored just once.

An inspired Chicago Fire performance

Coming off of a 4-2 home defeat to Seattle, there was little to suggest this performance from Chicago coming into Saturday night’s matchup with the 2018 Supporters Shield winners. Like the Red Bulls, Chicago was also searching for goals from its primary scoring option, with 2017 Golden Boot winner Nemanja Nikolić yet to ring the bell this season.

Chicago’s tally came on a Red Bulls own goal, so Nikolić did not get on the scoresheet Saturday night. Fire coach Veljko Paunovic will have been pleased with the effort from his striker, who pressured the NY backline throughout and whose shot it was that caromed off of Tim Parker and across the goal line for the game’s lone goal.

As the clock ticked toward 90′ Saturday night, desperation set in and RBNY showed more urgency in the latter stages of the match. However, German World Cup winner Bastian Schweinsteiger was immense at the heart of the Fire defense, leaving Fire goalkeeper David Ousted to face just one shot on goal despite all of that Red bulls urgency.

10 minutes from the final whistle Paunovic handed his MLS debut to 31-year-old Argentine midfielder Nicolás Gaitán. The addition of Gaitán to the Chicago midfield could make Schweinsteiger’s relocation to central defense permanent, a move that could shore up the Fire defense with McCarty providing cover for the back four.

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