Chicago Fire 1, New York Red Bulls 1 | 2017 MLS Match Recap
A timely equalizer from Nemanja Nikolic saved the Chicago Fire from their fifth loss in their last six games on Saturday, as the Hungarian international broke his two-month goal drought to cancel out Bradley Wright-Phillips' opener and deny the New York Red Bulls a key Eastern Conference road win.
The visitors were steely and savvy on their visit to Toyota Park, taking an early lead via their goalscoring talisman and bossing the game for long periods.
But Michael De Leeuw conjured up a delightful first-time, outside-of-the-boot volleyed assist in the 66th minute that was headed home by Nikolic, who for now moves up to sole possession of second place in the MLS Golden Boot race with 17 goals on the season, two behind league leader David Villa.
- WAVED OFF: Both sides have reason to be frustrated with taking only a point here, partly because both saw goals waved off by refereeing decisions. BWP thought he'd scored a second in the 29th minute only to be denied by an offside flag, and a few minutes later De Leeuw saw a thumping volley disallowed by a teammate's foul elsewhere in the penalty box. Will those lost points cost one or both of these sides in the playoff race?
- DE LEEUW, DELIGHTFUL: Kudos to De Leeuw for shaking off the frustration from that lost goal and several other good chances that went begging, as the Dutchman later produced a simply glorious midair touch to center the ball for Nikolic's stooping header. "The Lion" remains a sneakily influential figure for the Fire, especially when Bastian Schweinsteiger is sidelined.
Holy hell what a touch from De Leeuw. Probably the Pass of the Week? #CHIvNY— Matthew Doyle (@MattDoyle76) September 9, 2017
- CLEAN SHEET, INTERRUPTED: The Red Bulls haven't posted a shutout since late July, a leaky stretch that looked destined to end on this day as Aaron Long, Fidel Escobar & Co. ably managed the threats posed by Nikolic, David Accam and the rest of the Chicago attack. But that briefest of mental lapses was harshly punished by the Fire.