Samindra Kunti – Fairy tales often don´t have a place in the cruel and relentless business of football, but Sunday night the New York Red Bulls were definitely part of a script that not even Christian Hans Andersen could have written. The Red Bulls provided the icing on the cake of a remarkable season with a crushing 5-2 victory over Chicago Fire. The Supporters´ Shield is the first trophy for the New York outfit in its 18-year history.
But it was a nervy and uncharacteristic start from the New York Red Bulls. The New York rearguard struggled to deal with the quickness and incisive running of Patrick Nyarko and Dilly Duka. The latter´s attempt was palmed away by Luis Robles in the sixth minute, but Mike Magee, former Metro Stars player, pounced on the rebound to score his fourteenth goal of the season.
Juan Luis Anangono should have double the score soon after for Chicago Fire, but his indecision in front of Robles´ goalmouth saved the hosts from further damage. The Red Bulls gained some composure in their offensive compartment, as they were looking for a response to Chicago Fire´s early goal. Thierry Henry seemed happy to continue in his role as set-up man. Peguy Luyindula, twice, and Dax McCarthy, squandered decent opportunities.
But the Red Bulls´ sustained pressure paid off as captain Thierry Henry smashed home the equalizer in the 24th minute. At the edge of the box Henry chest controlled the ball and brought it down to audaciously take it on the volley. The velocity and curve of the volley stunned Chicago´s goalkeeper Sean Johnson, as the ball flew past him in off the woodwork. It was a masterpiece by Henry and it couldn´t have come more timely for the New York outfit.
A lack of serenity continued to haunt the Red Bulls´ rearguard. Holgersson often ventured forward, leaving plenty of space in behind him for Nyarko to exploit. Duka and Anangono targeted Carney, whose defending got more wobbly as the game went on. Robles made a vital save off Duka´ s long range attempt just before the break.
Mike Petke decided to not make any substitutions at the break. He trusted his troops to exhibit the same resolve and resilience that had brought them to the top of the table. And Petke got his desired response in the second half – a rollercoaster of emotions in an outstanding turnaround by his charges.
In the 49th minute Henry delivered a dangerous free kick from the right and in a cluster of bodies and legs, the ball was bundled in. After revision officials awarded the goal to Ibrahim Sekagya. Lloyd Sam extended the Red Bulls´ lead after a textbook counter in the 56th minute. Luyindula´s drive and vision were at the heart of Red Bulls´ eye-catching goal. With Henry to his left and Sam to his right, Luyindula neatly slide it to the latter, who cut inside Gonzalo Segares and curled it beyond a helpless Johnson.
There was visible relief on Petke´s face, but the Red Bulls had more left in the tank. It was now Chicago Fire´s turn to look very wobbly at the back. Luyindula, who had taken stick for his poor finishing earlier on, thrived in his midfield role and with a defence splitting pass he allowed Eric Alexander to grab a fourth goal with an angled shot. The collective delirium that had now taken hold of the Red Bull Arena continued as Johnny Steele tapped in a delightful , little cross from Henry with six minutes left.
Captain Henry and Cahill were given applause substitutions and amidst all the clapping, chanting and cheering Quincy Amarikwa pulled a goal back in the 90th minute, but his strike went virtually unnoticed.
The Red Bulls´ triumph ended in sheer ecstasy. After a mesmerizing performance, in line with an outstanding season, no one would begrudge the Red Bulls´ their moment of happiness, their first silverware in 18 years.
New York Red Bulls 5, Chicago Fire 2
October 27, 2013 – Red Bull Arena – Harrison, NJ
MLS Regular Season
CHI — Mike Magee 21 (unassisted) 6
NY — Thierry Henry 10 (Peguy Luyindula 5) 24
NY — Ibrahim Sekagya 2 (Tim Cahill 5) 49
NY — Lloyd Sam 5 (Peguy Luyindula 6) 56
NY — Eric Alexander 4 (Peguy Luyindula 7) 77
NY — Jonny Steele 5 (Thierry Henry 9) 84
CHI — Quincy Amarikwa 3 (Joel Lindpere 8) 90
New York Red Bulls – Luis Robles, Markus Holgersson, Ibrahim Sekagya, Jamison Olave, David Carney, Lloyd Sam (Eric Alexander 74), Dax McCarty, Peguy Luyindula, Jonny Steele, Tim Cahill (Brandon Barklage 88), Thierry Henry (Bradley Wright-Phillips 89).
Chicago Fire – Sean Johnson, Jalil Anibaba, Austin Berry, Bakary Soumare, Gonzalo Segares (Joel Lindpere 75), Patrick Nyarko (Quincy Amarikwa 61), Arevalo Rios, Alex, Dilly Duka (Chris Rolfe 68), Mike Magee, Juan Luis Anongono.
Referee: Ismail Elfath
Attendance: 25,219 (sellout).