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Sat, Oct 6
3:30 PM ET

Preview: Red Bulls, Fire clash on NBC for playoff position

RED BULL ARENA, Harrison, N.J.
October 6, 2012 (WEEK 31, MLS Game #296)
3:30 p.m. ET (NBC; TSN2/RDS2)

A massive clash in the Eastern Conference is ahead before an NBC Sports audience on Saturday afternoon when the New York Red Bulls play host to the Chicago Fire at Red Bull Arena. The mathematics are simple – a victory for either team and some help elsewhere, and they clinch a spot in the MLS Cup Playoffs. The Red Bulls come into the match off a 4-1 home win against Toronto FC last weekend that moved them into a tie for second place in the East. The Fire are coming off back-to-back losses for the first time in four months, following their 3-1 home loss to Philadelphia at midweek.


REFEREE: Ricardo Salazar. AR1 (bench): Anthony Vasoli; AR2 (opposite): Brian Poeschel; 4th: Niko Bratsis

MLS Career: 158 games; FC/gm: 26.9; Y/gm: 3.5; R: 45; pens: 57


  • NEW YORK RED BULLS – OUT: FW Corey Hertzog (L calf strain); GK Ryan Meara (L hip surgery); QUESTIONABLE: MF Lloyd Sam (L hamstring tightness); DF Rafa Marquez (R hamstring strain) …
  • CHICAGO FIRE – OUT: DF Cory Gibbs (R knee meniscus repair); QUESTIONABLE: MF Pavel Pardo (L calf tightness)


SUSPENDED: CHI: Guillermo Franco (through Oct. 7)

SUSPENDED NEXT YELLOW CARD: NY: Connor Lade, Joel Lindpere … CHI: Pavel Pardo, Gonzalo Segares
SUSPENDED AFTER TWO YELLOW CARDS: NY: Kenny Cooper, Victor Palsson … CHI: Sebastian Grazzini, Patrick Nyarko, Dominic Oduro, Arne Friedrich


ALL-TIME (42 meetings): Red Bulls 12 wins, 48 goals … Fire 21 wins, 66 goals … Ties 9

  • AT NEW YORK (21 meetings): Red Bulls 9 wins, 29 goals … Fire 9 wins, 29 goals … Ties 3


  • 2012 (MLS): 6/17: CHI 3, NY 1 (Nyarko 4; Segares 68; Rolfe 81 – McCarty 55), 7/18: NY 1, CHI 0 (Henry 71)
  • The teams have split their two previous meetings this season. Patrick Nyarko, Gonzalo Segares and Chris Rolfe all scored in a 3-1 Fire win on June 17 at Toyota Park. Thierry Henry scored the game’s only goal in a Red Bulls victory, July 18 at Red Bull Arena.
  • The win in the last meeting was just the second for the Red Bulls vs. Chicago over the last five seasons. Since the 2008 season, the Fire are 6-2-3 vs. the Red Bulls.
  • The Red Bulls have never won at Toyota Park. In nine all-time meetings in Bridgeview, the Fire have won six, with three draws. New York’s last road win vs. Chicago came May 31, 2005, when the MetroStars posted a 3-1 victory at Soldier Field.
  • Coaches record: Hans Backe vs. CHI: P6 W2 L1 T3 … Frank Klopas vs. NY: P4 W1 L1 T2


  • The game's lone goal was a stunner on 71 minutes. Sebastien Le Toux hit a diagonal aerial ball to a streaking Thierry Henry, who chested the ball down before hitting a left-footed volley that flew over outstretched goalkeeper Sean Johnson, stung off the far post and crossed the goal line.
  • NEW YORK RED BULLS (4-4-2): Bill Gaudette - Brandon Barklage, Markus Holgersson, Wilman Conde (Stephen Keel 87), Roy Miller - Mehdi Ballouchy, Dax McCarty, Victor Palsson (Connor Lade 61), Joel Lindpere - Thierry Henry (Kenny Cooper 82), Sebastien Le Toux.
  • CHICAGO FIRE (4-2-3-1): Sean Johnson - Dan Gargan, Austin Berry, Jalil Anibaba, Gonzalo Segares - Pavel Pardo, Logan Pause (Orr Barouch 75) - Chris Rolfe, Alex (Patrick Nyarko 46), Marco Pappa - Dominic Oduro (Rafael Robayo 61).

The New York Red Bulls returned to their winning ways, overcoming an early deficit for a 4-1 win against Toronto FC on Saturday evening at Red Bull Arena. The Red Bulls are in a tie for second place in the Eastern Conference, with 53 points from 31 games.

Toronto FC got off to a dream start, scoring in the sixth minute. From all of 30 yards out, Ryan Johnson blasted a shot past debutant goalkeeper Luis Robles and into the top corner inside the far post.

•    But the Red Bulls answered back seven minutes later, when Markus Holgersson headed home an Thierry Henry corner from the edge of the goal area. The home side then took the lead in the 27th minute when Lloyd Sam and Thierry Henry played a quality one-two that started with Henry nodding down a header, finishing when Henry slipped to Kenny Cooper for an easy finish in front of an open goal.

WATCH: Red Bulls hammer Toronto

•    The Red Bulls doubled their lead in the 88th minute when Henry collected a pass from Jan Gunnar Solli, dribbled away from a defender and played a low ball across the six-yard box that Cooper smashed home.
•    Cooper then returned the favor to Henry in stoppage time to cap the scoring, hitting a through ball that Henry floated over TFC goalkeeper Freddy Hall from 25 yards out with an audacious chip.
•    Red Bulls head coach Hans Backe made five changes to the side that ended in a 1-1 draw with the New England Revolution at Gillette Stadium. Luis Robles came in between the posts for Bill Gaudette, Brandon Barklage started at right back for the suspended Connor Lade, Lloyd Sam and Joel Lindpere started in midfield for Teemu Tainio and Rafa Marquez, and Kenny Cooper came in up top for Sebastien Le Toux.
•    NEW YORK RED BULLS (4-4-2): Luis Robles - Brandon Barklage, Markus Holgersson, Heath Pearce, Wilman Conde - Lloyd Sam (Jan Gunnar Solli 58), Dax McCarty, Tim Cahill, Joel Lindpere (Teemu Tainio 91+) - Kenny Cooper, Thierry Henry.

•    The Red Bulls once again allowed a goal in the early going, the sixth time in the last nine games they’ve conceded the opening goal in the first quarter-hour. The Red Bulls have allowed 12 of their 44 goals this season in the opening 15 minutes.
•    “I can’t get out of my head that we concede again early,” Thierry Henry said. “I know it was a wonder-goal, but we should have been down 1-0 after 45 seconds. I’ve been saying the same thing since the beginning of the season, we have to come back into games and fight and use more energy than some other teams. At the end of the day, we did what we had to do, but every time we have to come out of a bad situation. That’s the way it is, you have to fight for everything in sport, but again, it’s tiring at times.”
•    Henry continued his recent tear with a goal and three assists in the win. Over his last four games, Henry has three goals and five assists. Henry is now tied for fourth in the MLS Golden Boot standings with 14 goals, and tied for fourth in MLS with 12 assists.
•    “When you have that kind of vision, this is probably one of his best games since he arrived I would say,” said Red Bulls head coach Hans Backe. “Good on the ball, precise, hard-working and phenomenal assists and a great, great goal the last one. Top class.
•    Goalkeeper Luis Robles made his MLS debut – and was scored on with the first shot he faced – but bounced back to record his first goalkeeper win.
•    Bill Gaudette, who had started 12 consecutive games after his arrival from the LA Galaxy before missing the Toronto match, has returned to training and could be available for this weekend.
•    “I talked to the goalies a couple of weeks ago and said that Luis is definitely banging on the door now,” said Backe. “He got his chance now and did well and wasn’t challenged that much, but he was solid against crosses, he started the attacking game well. It’s very even with these two guys, so it’s not automatically there that [Gaudette is] back.”
•    With Connor Lade suspended, Brandon Barklage filled the right back role, his first start since July 21 – and Backe said there’s no guarantee Lade will get his job back.
•    “Brandon banging on the door and being so competitive and playing so well, and of course that’s just part of the game,” said Backe. “You have to show in every training session that you want that position back. Normally, I see Connor as a fullback. I think that is now [what] he’s growing into and handle that well and that’s the competition you want … I will never switch players if they do . The other guys just have to bang on the door every day and show they want that position. So it could be a starting position for Connor, it could be bench.”
•    Midfielder Lloyd Sam made his first MLS start wide on the right of midfield, and chipped in with his first assist. “He gives a different element going forward,” said Tim Cahill. “He puts a bit of fear into defenders and that’s exactly what we needed and he got a lot of crosses in. For us, we’re a very attacking team when we get forward, so we need that.”
•    Kenny Cooper hit for two goals in a game for the fourth time this season, his first goals since Aug. 19. He now has 16 on the season, third in the MLS Golden Boot standings and his most since scoring 18 in 2008 with FC Dallas.
•    “I think it’s more try to do quite a lot of individual work, more working with him. Also being a target and get hold of the ball,” said Backe. “He’s kind of you can say 50-50 against center backs, lots of finishing, but today I could have scored against these two.”

The Chicago Fire suffered a second consecutive defeat, this time a 3-1 loss to Philadelphia Union on Wednesday evening at Toyota Park. The Fire are in a tie for second place in the Eastern Conference with 53 points from 31 games.

•    Union took the lead after just seven minutes. Forward Danny Cruz found Jack McInerney with a through pass that split the Fire defense, and McInerney beat goalkeeper Sean Johnson with a low shot inside the post.
•    Substitute Gabriel Gómez then doubled the Philadelphia lead in the 67th minute, when he drove a line-drive shot into the upper 90 off a nice headed flick from McInerney.

WATCH: Fire fall to Philly

•    Chicago answered two minutes later, as Dominic Oduro settled a pass from Patrick Nyarko and poked a dribbling shot through defender Sheanon Williams’ legs and past goalkeeper Zac MacMath.
•    But the Fire went a man down in the 79th minute when Guillermo Franco received a red card for a high tackle on Brian Carroll. The match was sealed in the 87th minute when a low centering pass from Michael Farfan found Antoine Hoppenot for a nifty back-heel into an open goal.
•    Fire head coach Frank Klopas made two changes to the team that dropped a 2-0 decision to Sporting Kansas City at Livestrong Sporting Park. Daniel Paladini came into the midfield for Alex and Dan Gargan started in the back for the suspended Gonzalo Segares.
•    CHICAGO FIRE (4-2-3-1): Sean Johnson - Jalil Anibaba, Arne Friedrich, Austin Berry, Dan Gargan (Alex 77) - Daniel Paladini, Logan Pause (Dominic Oduro 46) - Patrick Nyarko, Chris Rolfe, Alvaro Fernandez (Guillermo Franco 63/sent off 79) - Sherjill MacDonald.

•    The Fire have lost back-to-back games for the first time since May 26-June 2, when they lost on a road swing through Columbus and New England. Those losses were part of a three-game losing run over all competitions that included elimination in the U.S. Open Cup.
•    “I think it was the worst game we’ve played of the season. Especially when we play at home you never expected that. And tonight, humbling,” said assistant coach Leo Percovich, who filled in for the suspended Frank Klopas. “They played. We saw the pressure. We put too much pressure on ourselves, I don’t know. We couldn’t find each other. And you saw. We were with the ball, we were very different than we were before. And sometimes that happens.”
•    For just the third time in 13 games – but for a second match in a row – the Fire conceded multiple goals in a game. The Fire last recorded a clean sheet on July 14 in a 2-0 win vs. Vancouver.
•    “We forgot to defend,” center back Arne Friedrich said. “This is what we did very bad the last couple of weeks. This is our goal for the next couple of weeks, it must be, because when we did good, we were always focused to defend well.”
•    The Fire now enter the New York match knowing that only a victory will secure a place in the MLS Cup Playoffs this week.
•    “I knew weren’t in the playoffs yet, but that a win today almost guaranteed it and that’s how I approached the game.  Most of the guys knew we haven’t clinched a spot yet and we needed a good result tonight,” said midfielder Patrick Nyarko. “But in the first few minutes out game plan backfired on us. We tried to press forward a little and they had one big ball played from the back that beat our midfielders slip through and we were caught out of position – that’s what cost us and we were chasing the game.”
•    Dominic Oduro scored his first goal since June 23, netting his sixth of the season.
•    Guillermo Franco made his second substitute appearance in as many matches. But it was cut short when he was sent off just 16 minutes into his shift, and will be suspended for the New York game.
•    “At the end we were still pushing with three guys in the back. We put Franco, MacDonald and Oduro up top. We tried to put high pressure and tried to get the ball a little more on top of the field, but the red card with Franco changed what we tried to do at the end,” said Percovich.
•    With Gonzalo Segares suspended after he was sent off in the Sporting KC match, Dan Gargan made his first start since July 28, coming in at left back.
•    “Maybe it’s good that we know we are not in the playoffs yet – we have to work hard and we have to defend first because in the end good defense wins. We played well for the first couple of months and now we’re getting lazy and if we continue to play like this we have no chance to get into the playoffs,” said Friedrich. “I hope it’s early enough that we come together, recognize that and on Saturday we have do things completely differently. First we have to defend our goal, then we can score and win the game.”
•    Daniel Paladini made his first start since Sept. 2 as Pavel Pardo was sidelined for a fourth consecutive match with a calf strain.


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