The Red Bulls and Chicago Fire were on opposite ends of the spectrum coming into this match. With the uninspired Fire languishing at the bottom of the Eastern Conference, it seemed certain that New York would be able to close the gap between themselves and D.C. United. With the Red Bulls fresh off of a six-game unbeaten run and an extended weekend, it seemed like the stars had aligned for New York to make a charge at first place.
As fate would have it, the stars aligned for Chicago instead. The Red Bulls played one of their sloppiest games of the season, failing to get any sort of rhythm going in the attacking third. Chicago, on the other hand, played with urgency and made Jesse Marsch's side look languid by comparison.
The scoring opened in the 10th minute. Matt Miazga was pulled down in the box by Jeff Larentowicz and referee Allen Chapman pointed to the spot. Sacha Kljestan stepped up and coolly slotted it past Sean Johnson. 12 minutes later, Chicago would level thanks to Kennedy Igboananike as the Fire finished off a lightning fast movement. Patrick Nyarko would pull them into the lead just a few minutes later, as the veteran controlled a chest pass and smashed a 180 degree volley past Robles.
Shortly after halftime, the Red Bulls would equalize in controversial fashion. Off of a fake corner kick, Sacha Kljestan was able to bring the ball in from the corner and pick out Ronald Zubar, who would place the ball in the back of the net. According to MLS, the goal shouldn't have counted because the corner kick did not meet a certain amount of criteria necessary for a legal corner kick.
Ultimately, the goal wouldn't make a difference. Igboananike would find his second goal of the match as the Red Bulls back line left him wide open by the penalty spot. The Designated Player only needed one touch to score, placing his shot to the right of a helpless Robles.
After a loss, we all like to play coach and sometimes it's unjustified. This is one of those times where it might me be needed, as Jesse Marsch brought on Gonzalo Veron, Shaun Wright-Phillips, and Sal Zizzo in the second half. That's three wingers. Perhaps a certain goalscorer by the name of Anatole Abang should have made an appearance.
The Red Bulls had a golden opportunity to put some real pressure on D.C. United today. The Red Bulls are now 5 points behind with 3 games in hand. While that might not seem like a dire situation, it also means that the Red Bulls failed to take advantage of their game in hand and put more distance between themselves and Toronto. The Reds are now 5 points behind RBNY, and could easily overtake New York if more performances like this follow.
The Red Bulls have had their good momentum snapped emphatically on two occasions: first by the lowly Philadelphia Union and today. One of the symptoms of being a team in MLS seems to be that you can never guarantee what result you're going to get, especially if you're the New York Red Bulls playing against a team at the bottom of your conference.