Despite a solid 3-1 thrashing of Brazilian club Santos last week to open Red Bull Arena, the question still remained about which New York team would show up in Saturday’s season opener.
The Red Bulls’ 1-0 win over Chicago answered those questions at least for one night, thanks to a brilliant strike from Joel Lindpere that gave the hosts a feel-good opening win over their Eastern Conference rivals in front of a raucous crowd for the new stadium’s official MLS debut.
Lindpere’s goal in the 40th minute was his second in as many weeks in his first season with the club, tacked on to a tally in the club’s 3-1 win over Brazilian side Santos in Red Bull Arena’s exhibition opener on March 20. The Estonian import one-timed a bouncing ball off the head of Juan Pablo Angel and past Fire rookie goalkeeper Andrew Dykstra, and it held up behind goalkeeper Buona Condoul and the Red Bulls’ defensive line.
Hans Backe won the battle over Carlos de los Cobos in the battle of coaching newcomers, but it didn’t come easily. Brian McBride skipped a bicycle kick off the post in the 20th minute, and Patrick Nyarko missed a golden chance in the 83rd minute when he missed a shot wide of the post from the top of the box with Condoul well out of goal.
Coundoul made the save of the night midway through the second half on a direct kick from Fire defender Mike Banner. The Chicago youngster curled a left-footed strike over the wall and off the hands of the lunging hands of Coundoul, who impressed a boisterous Red Bull Arena for the second consecutive week.
New York picked up its fourth consecutive win in a home opener.
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NY – Joel Lindpere (1), 40th minute
Chicago: Andrew Dykstra, Mike Banner, C.J. Brown, Wilman Conde, Tim Ward, Peter Lowery, Julio Martinez (Collins John, 53rd), Marco Pappa, Logan Pause (Baggio Husidic, 60th), Brian McBride (Justin Mapp, 78th), Patrick Nyarko
New York: Bouna Coundoul, Roy Miller, Tim Ream, Mike Petke, Jeremy Hall, Danleigh Borman (John Wolyniec, 70th), Sinisa Ubiparipovic, Joel Lindpere, Dane Richards, Juan Pablo Angel, Macoumba Kandji (Tony Tchani, 90th)