Chicago Fire battle back to earn a point at home, draw New York Red Bulls 1-1

BRIDGEVIEW, Ill. (Sept. 9, 2017) – The Chicago Fire picked up a crucial point in the Eastern Conference playoff race, coming from behind to draw the New York Red Bulls at Toyota Park on Saturday. Nemanja Nikolic’s 17th goal of the season helped power the Fire through to a share of the result, finishing a nifty flick from Krakus Man of the Match Michael de Leeuw in the second half.
New York’s Bradley Wright-Phillips opened scoring in the eighth minute of the match. The sequence began with defender Fidel Escobar playing a long ball into the Fire 18-yard box on a restart. Midfielder Sacha Kljestan got a head to it, playing it across the goalmouth to a waiting Wright-Phillips, who was able to tap in the game’s first goal and give the visitors the lead.
Michael de Leeuw was responsible for two of the Fire’s most dangerous attempts to equalize in the first half. In the 26th minute, de Leeuw found himself with the ball near the top of the Red Bull 18 after a botched defensive clearance attempt. The Dutchman got a hard foot to it on a volley, but his attempt rattled off Luis Robles' crossbar and the danger was cleared.
Minutes later, the Fire earned a throw-in on the left touchline deep in the attacking third. David Accam’s toss found Luis Solignac by the Red Bull near post, who played a header across to a waiting de Leeuw. His attempt was smashed hard into the back of the New York net, but was undone as Solignac was whistled for a foul. The Fire kept pressing as the first half expired, as Accam put a curled free kick attempt off the right post in the 44th minute and Matt Polster’s headed rebound sailed just high of the bar.
Nemanja Nikolic finally broke through in the second half, scoring his team-leading 17th goal of the season and leveling the score at 1-1 in the 66th minute. Nikolic got an open header on the ball after de Leeuw expertly brought down a long ball into the 18 from Johan Kappelhof, and flicked it to the on-running Hungarian international.
Solignac had a pair of dramatic moments left wanting in the second half as the Fire searched for a winner, the first on a fine Robles save on the goal line moments after Nikolic’s finish and the second on a shot inside the box pushed just wide of the net in the 84th. Both defenses would hold through second half stoppage time, as the teams split points in a 1-1 final.
Postmatch Reactions | Paunovic | Nikolic | de Leeuw
The Fire are back at home next weekend for another Eastern Conference matchup, as D.C. United visit Toyota Park on Saturday, Sept. 16 for a 7:30 p.m. CT kickoff on CSN Chicago Plus.
MLS Regular Season
Chicago Fire (13-9-6, 45 pts.) 1:1 New York Red Bulls (12-10-5, 41 points)
Sept. 9, 2017 – Toyota Park
Attendance: 17,808
Scoring Summary:
NY — Bradley Wright-Phillips (Sacha Kljestan, Fidel Escobar) 8’
CHI – Nemanja Nikolic (Michael de Leeuw, Johan Kappelhof) 66'
Misconduct Summary:
NY — Sal Zizzo (caution) 31’
CHI – Jonathan Campbell (caution) 57’
CHI – Michael de Leeuw (caution) 76’
CHI - Arturo Alvarez (caution) 80’
Chicago Fire: Matt Lampson; Matt Polster, Johan Kappelhof, Jonathan Campbell, Brandon Vincent; Juninho (Drew Conner 79’), Dax McCarty; Michael de Leeuw, Luis Solignac, David Accam (Djordje Mihailovic 88’), Nemanja Nikolic (David Arshakyan 90+3’).
Subs not used: Richard Sanchez, Michael Harrington, Brandt Bronico, Arturo Alvarez.
Shots: 14; Shots On-Goal: 4; Saves: 1; Fouls: 14; Corners: 7; Offsides: 2
New York Red Bulls: Luis Robles, Sal Zizzo (Muhamed Keita 85’), Fidel Escobar, Aaron Long, Connor Lade; Felipe, Kemar Lawrence, Tyler Adams, Alex Muyl, Sacha Kljestan; Bradley Wright-Phillips.
Subs not used: Ryan Meara, Damien Perrinelle, Michael Murillo, Dilly Duka, Derrick Etienne, Gonzalo Veron.
Shots: 5; Shots On-Goal: 2; Saves: 2; Fouls: 14; Corners: 5; Offsides: 7