BRIDGEVIEW, Ill. – The Chicago Fire defeated the New York Red Bulls 3-1 on Sunday at Toyota Park as both teams returned from a long international break that appears to have cured some ills for the Fire while creating issues for the Red Bulls.
Before the break, New York (8-4-2) were riding a six-game MLS unbeaten streak and the Fire had lost three straight games. But the Red Bulls lost Thierry Henry to a calf injury and Rafa Marquez to a thigh knock over the break while the ailing Fire (6-5-3) were able to heal.
Patrick Nyarko started the scoring, Dax McCarty evened the match for the Red Bulls and Gonzalo Segares and Chris Rolfe finished things off for the Fire. The most memorable moment of the match, however, likely came in the 64th minute.
Rolfe slipped Dominic Oduro (above left) through on goal with a nifty chip. Tim Meara got a hand to the Ghanaian's shot, but the ball appeared to cross the line before Wilman Conde (above right) could sweep it away. While the Fire protested, the referee signaled for play to go on.
Still, Chicago were the better of the two sides from the very start, announcing their intent in the first few minutes of play.
Sebastian Grazzini was the first to unlock the New York defense in the fourth minute when the Argentine floated a left-footed cross to the right side of the box, where a wide-open Nyarko powered a header past Meara and into the back of the net.
The teams traded blows the rest of the half, as Pavel Pardo missed an opportunity to double the Fire’s lead in the 13th minute and Jan Gunnar Solli forced a save out of Sean Johnson when his shot was deflected in the 40th.
But 10 minutes after halftime, the Red Bulls tied the game when Dax McCarty’s header from a Medhi Ballouchy’s corner kick found the back of the net after the midfield found a pocket of space in the area.
But Chicago took over from there, with Gonzalo Segares giving the Fire the lead for good in the 68th minute when he powered home a rebound from Meara.
Chris Rolfe sealed the win in the 80th minute when he tapped in Patrick Nyarko’s goal-mouth cross. The goal was Rolfe’s first in his two games since returning to Chicago this season.
Despite the loss, the Red Bulls remained comfortably in third place in the Eastern Conference on 26 points, but they’ll once again have to play without Henry and Marquez when they head to Vancouver on Wednesday.
Meanwhile, Chicago had their worst two-week stretch of the season before the international break, but Sunday’s resounding victory appears to have their season trending back in the right direction through 14 games.