It seems that the Fire have seen a lot of Red Bull in a short amount of time this season. Joel Lindpere and Marco Pappa traded goals in the side’s 1-1 draw on June 26 at Toyota Park, while just two days later the teams found they would meet again as they both advanced out of the third round of the Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup.
With that, back Red Bull came to Chicago, this time sending a weakened roster, failing to even send head coach Hans Backe and only playing one regular starter in Mehdi Ballouchy as the team was trounced 4-0 in the Open Cup quarterfinals.
That match highlighted two teams with very different priorities: A Fire side that had renewed interest in the tournament by which much of the club’s history has been made vs. Red Bull who put more of a priority on a European preseason tournament against the likes of Arsenal and Paris Saint-Germain.
To be fair, Red Bull won the Emirates Cup late last month, despite that, many of the club’s own supporters were upset with the side that was sent to Chicago in July.
Either way it didn’t upset Chicago Fire striker Dominic Oduro, who scored the opening goal in the match against his former team.
“We didn’t take offense [to the way they treated the tournament],” Oduro said this week. “At the end of the day we played against the New York Red Bulls. It wasn’t ‘Red Bull B or C’ we beat New York. It was their coach’s decision to send the team he sent -- some coaches really take the Open Cup seriously, others don’t. Here we do because of the history for this team and if you win, it takes you to the CONCACAF Champions League. They had different priorities than us -- that’s all.”
Oduro, who had a brief ‘cup of coffee’ stint with Red Bull in 2009, has had a bit of a career rebirth this season, passed his MLS season high of five goals with his impressive strike in Sunday’s 4-2 loss at Vancouver. That, along with Orr Barouch’s second half goal were the lone bright spots in what was an otherwise poor performance against the MLS expansion side.
Despite that performance, Oduro is quick to put the team’s play out west behind in the past.
“We know we had a terrible game against Vancouver and that’s behind us. New York is a good team. We’re just going to compete as we always do. We played pretty well against Red Bull in June. There’s nothing left for us to do except compete and work hard. We get a couple of wins and you never know where you’ll be.”
Oduro has appeared in every match for the Fire since joining the team via trade from Houston one game into the season and perhaps that’s due to his versatility. Certainly being one of the fastest players in the league has kept him in the lineup, but the Ghanaian attacker has been deployed on both wings, as a second striker and most recently as the lone forward up top in a 4-2-3-1 formation.
There’s no reason to expect him out of the lineup Saturday night as he celebrates his 26th birthday with fellow Fire striker Cristian Nazarit.
“I found out the other day Cristian and I shared a birthday, it’s pretty funny actually. I’m just trying to get myself a present with a goal or two hopefully in New York. More than anything though, I just want us to win Saturday, that would be the best present. A goal or two would be the icing on the cake.”
Jeff Crandall is the Team Writer for the Chicago Fire. Follow him on Twitter @JefeCrandall.