BRIDGEVIEW, Ill. -- As the Fire welcomed Red Bull to Toyota Park last June, the team was reeling off three straight losses in what would be the side’s worst stretch of the season.
In a week’s time, the Fire fell 2-1 away to Columbus before an upset 3-2 extra time loss to the Michigan Bucks in the U.S. Open Cup and a 2-0 away defeat at New England.
WATCH: Pause, Lindpere Preview Red Bull
Though the back-to-back league defeats pushed the Fire down to its lowest position of the season, the team took advantage of the nearly two-week international break to regroup vs. Red Bull.
The teams traded blows as Patrick Nyarko tallied a blinding header early before Dax McCarthy equalized just after halftime.
Fire 3, Red Bulls 1 (6/17/2012)
The Fire should have gone ahead as in the 64th minute when Dominic Oduro’s shot clearly trickled over the line before former Fire defender Wilman Conde cleared it. Center ref Baldomero Toledo and assistant Ian Anderson ruled it wasn’t a goal and the no-call only served to make the home side upset.
“We were mad about that goal being taken away from us,” remembered Fire defender Gonzalo Segares. “After it happened, we knew we had to keep our composure. We put our heads down and kept fighting.”
Three minutes after the no-goal NBC Sports’ Arlo White and Kyle Martino were still discussing the oft-mentioned subject of goal-line technology.
Just as White proclaimed that the Fire were “playing with anger”, Segares punched home the go-ahead goal, sending his team and the whole of Toyota Park into a frenzy.
The Costa Rican left back charged to the sideline where Anderson had denied the goal earlier as the entire team celebrated.
“We felt hard done by but we found that second goal and I think it showed the character that our team had.”
The Fire would continue to push for a third strike and found it in the 81st minute as Nyarko breezed past Heath Pearce on the left before serving up a great cross to find Chris Rolfe for a tap-in at the back post.
The strike would be Rolfe’s first since re-joining the club from Danish side Aalborg BK in April and continues to be a warm memory for the veteran forward.
“For me it was a welcoming home after a long spell and some challenging times away from this club,” remembered Rolfe. “I got an easy goal because of Patrick’s hard work but it definitely helped me with my confidence and I think it helped the team as well.”
Rolfe's golf putt conversion was one of seven career goals he's scored against Red Bull. As the team enters Sunday's match without a win in its first four games, the seventh-year Fire forward said he'll draw inspiration from the club's current 10-match unbeaten streak vs. New York.
"We try to find confidence anyway we can," he said. "We're going to look at some of that film and bring back some good memories we've had against Red Bull."
Just as the side went into the match on a three-game losing skid, the 3-1 victory over New York was the start of a three-game winning streak and proved a turning point for the Fire in 2012.
“I think that was really a moment that we took a step and proved the quality that we had in our team,” said Segares. “It was definitely a turnaround in our 2012 season and we’re hoping we can do the same Sunday.”