On Saturday, the New York Red Bulls faced the Chicago Fire, who came into tonight's match in 12th place just one below New York in the MLS Eastern Conference standings. It had been exactly ten days since the Red Bulls earned their sixth win of the season against Columbus and they were eager to start making their way back into the playoff hunt at Red Bull Arena.
In a critical game at home against conference rival, Chicago Fire, Head Coach Gerhard Struber decided to change his formation, however just about every player who started were the same as those who played in the Red Bulls last game.
In this formation, three attacking midfielders and they were Wikelman Carmona, Caden Clark and Patryk Klimala. who usually plays striker. Tonight at Red Bull Arena, Fabio, the 24-year-old Brazilian would be the lone striker in Struber's attacking-minded formation aimed at creating enough offense to overpower the visitors and earn three points for the desperate Red Bulls.
- Goalkeeper- Carlos Colonel
- Backline- Edwards, Reyes-Nealis, Gutman
- Midfield- Davis-T0lkin, Clark, Klimala, Carmona
- Forward- Fabio
- CHI - 3-1-4-2
- Backline- Bornstein, Pineda, Teran
- Midfield- Gimenez
- Navarro, Stojanovic, Herbers
- Forwards- Gutierrez, Beric
During the first twenty minutes of the game, the Red Bulls looked sharp defensively and competed hard for loose balls, but could not penetrate Chicago's backline even though they used three defenders instead of four.
The young midfielder, Wiki Carmona is never shy to have a shot from distance, having scored his only goal from outside the box. So, in the first minute of the game, Carmona collected the ball just outside the Fire's 18 and took a left-footed shot along the ground that was saved and held by a diving Bobby Shuttleworth.
The Red Bulls were given space to attack offensively but Chicago never let them have a chance inside the box, which kept New York from getting the home crowd on it's feet with a goal. In the 24th minute, midfielder Caden Clark teed up a curling right-footed shot that sailed well-wide. Clark has not scored since May 29, but still is the Red Bulls' co-leader in goals (4) on the year.
The Visitors Take the Lead
Chicago came into tonight's game, not with more motivation than Red Bull had, but perhaps more determined. The reason being that the Fire had not won on the road in 19 matches coming into Red Bull Arena on Saturday Aug. 28.
This was motivation enough for Chicago to grab the lead thanks to a fortuitous bounce. It is well-known around Major League Soccer (MLS) that having a player who can execute long throw-ins is a plus and the Fire have that in Carlos Teran who can seemingly throw the ball 30 yards.
Teran threw the ball all the way onto the penalty-spot from about 30 yards away on the sideline. Red Bulls defender Andrew Gutman jumped up and missed the ball which rolled in front of goal, where it was tucked away by Robert Beric.
Initially the linesman raised the flag for offsides, but upon VAR review the goal was upheld and the Chicago Fire found themselves with the important first goal of the match.
The Red Bulls could not get anything going for the remainder of the first half and went into the locker room scratching their heads because they had been beaten by Carlos Teran's long throw-in and a really lucky play that had landed in Robert Beric's lap.
Rightly so, Head coach Struber must have fired up his team during halftime because they came out with energy and a will to score, but it just did not work.
In the 50th minute, Caden Clark was given a good pass from Sean Nealis in the center of the box. However, the young midfield talent's shot went far over the cross bar and was a wasted opportunity.
Five minutes later, the crafty Polish striker, Patryk Klimala created a window of attack on the left just outside the box and unleashed a hard right footed strike that again, sailed high and out of play. New York were willing to work hard but they did not create chances of the right quality to threaten a very good goalkeeper and a dedicated Chicago team that was focused on defending their slim lead.
Again Chicago nearly doubled their lead thanks to a throw-in that the Red Bulls were unaware of. Navarro threw the ball into the box to striker, Beric who passed to Fabian Herbers. The German in his seventh MLS season took a low shot that was heading for the bottom right corner of the net, where goalkeeper Carlos Colonel made the stop by diving to his left and keeping the ball out with a strong hand.
— New York Red Bulls (@NewYorkRedBulls) August 28, 2021
The Red Bulls certainly had their chance to tie the game and one of those came in the 81st minute. After a foul, the Red Bulls had a free kick down the left wing on the edge of the Fire box. Captain Sean Davis floated a cross that landed near the penalty spot, but the Red Bull players who were best in the air, were no where to behind as the shortest player on the field, Frankie Amaya actually went up for the ball but missed it badly.
Alvaro Medran put a scare into the South Ward faithful, ringing a finesse shot off the post in the 83rd minute. In the 90th minute, New York rushed into Chicago's territory. Andrew Gutman slid to keep the ball in down near Chicago's goal on the left hand side. He passed desperately back into the box, where Fabio took a shot that was blocked by a Chicago defender.
After 95 minutes of play at Red Bull Arena, the home side suffered defeat at the hands of the team right behind them in the standings. Despite getting the better of possession and shots, New York was unable to create the quality chances necessary to overcome Chicago's dedicated team defense.
In previous games, the Red Bulls had always created a dangerous shot but tonight was not so. Captain Sean Davis "It's the story of the season so far. We don't give up too much [defensively] but we have to be ready every moment. On the offensive side of the ball, we're not threatening enough. Despite training being really strong this week, it's a horrible feeling right now."
"There's no time to feel sorry for ourselves, we know it's not good enough, we have to use this break the right way, to try and be a better team, be better in both boxes."
After the game, Red Bulls Radio Matt Harmon and Steve Jolley discussed the outlook going forward where the team will not play for nearly two weeks.
The lack of urgency was a little concerning," Jolley said. "Because I felt like, OK, here's an opponent that hasn't won in 19 away games so I would've liked to see more urgency in the game, a little more pressure on offense and to be a little cleaner in the final third."
The New York Red Bulls' next opponent will be DC United on Sept. 11 at 7 PM. DC United are inside the playoffs and defeated the Red Bulls in Washington D.C. on July 25, 1-0 so New York will be looking to hand their longtime rivals a loss on their home turf. Of course, they will need to take a long, hard look at themselves in the mirror and will have ample time to do so during the international break that will take place over the next two weeks.