A Saturday matinée between two sides eyeing postseason play saw the New York Red Bulls get off on the front foot, with plenty of possession and a seventh-minute goal from the prolific Bradley Wright-Phillips. But the host Chicago Fire soon found the game and eventually equalized through their own target man up top, Nemanja Nikolic. Here's a look at the notable outcomes from what ended in a 1-1 draw at Toyota Park:
- The sharing of the points between the Fire (45 pts.) and Red Bulls (41 pts.) kept the New Jersey-based side four points back of the third-place Fire with one game in hand.
- The Red Bulls extended their unbeaten streak in the series with the Fire to six games (4-0-2), with their last two visits to Toyota Park ending in draws. The all-time series between the two clubs is in the Fire's favor at 26-17-12.
- After seeing his torrid goal-scoring pace over the season's first four months followed by a nine-game scoreless streak, Nemanja Nikolic was pleased to provide his side a key goal in the second half. It was his 17th of the season, tied with Portland's Diego Valeri for second in MLS at week's end behind NYCFC's David Villa.
- Nikolic's next goal will pull him level with Ante Razov for the Chicago Fire's single-season club record of 18, set in 2000.
- On the team side, the next goal scored by the Fire will be their 50th of the season, a mark that has not been met by the Fire during the MLS regular season since 2003. Through Sunday, Chicago continues to rank in a tie for second in MLS in goals scored, behind only Toronto FC (59) and even with both NYCFC and Portland Timbers. With six games remaining on the 2017 schedule, below is a look at the highest single-season goal totals in club history.
|YEAR||GAMES PLAYED||GOALS||GOALS PER GAME|
- Michael de Leeuw notched his sixth assist of 2017 and his ninth overall in MLS, making a stellar one-touch volley pass to Nikolic in the box for the headed finish.
- de Leeuw's fellow Dutchman Johan Kappelhof started the goal-scoring sequence for his fourth assist of the season. Kappelhof has started all but one game in MLS for the Men In Red this season.
- Michael de Leeuw -- who was named Krakus Polish Ham Man of the Match -- nearly had a goal to go along with his assist, burying a volley in the 31st minute only to have it called back due to a whistle for a Fire foul moments before. Just five minutes earlier, de Leeuw had also hit the crossbar off a loose ball near the penalty spot.
- Fire midfielder and former Red Bulls star Dax McCarty captained Chicago in the match, his 297th career regular season appearance in MLS.
- Second-year left back Brandon Vincent made his first appearance in the Fire starting XI since July 5 at Portland -- where he scored the game-tying goal -- after recovering from a quad strain suffered on July 22. Vincent appeared briefly off the bench in the waning minutes of the Sept. 2 win at Montreal.
- Calf injuries were to blame for the absence of both Bastian Schweinsteiger -- who missed only his second MLS match since signing with Chicago -- and centerback Joao Meira, who was forced to miss a fourth consecutive game.
- Chicago finished with a 14-5 edge in total shots and a 4-2 advantage in shots on goal, while New York held 53.4% percent of possession for the match.
- Goalkeeper Matt Lampson lowered his season goals against average to 1.25, fifth-best in MLS among qualifying goalkeepers.
- For Bradley Wright-Phillips, the goal was the Red Bulls striker's eighth in 10 career matches against the Chicago Fire.
- With a 10-2-2 record at Toyota Park and three home games remaining, the Fire still have the opportunity to match the club record for home wins in a season (13), achieved in both 1998 and 2000. The Fire play the next of those home matches vs. D.C. United on Saturday (Sept. 16) at 7:30 p.m.