|photo by Matt Kremkau
HARRISON, NJ - The Red Bulls were able to fight back twice against the Chicago Fire, but it was not enough for Gerhard Struber's young team to capture that elusive victory at home. Patryk Klimala's stoppage-time goal rescued a point, earning another draw 3-3.
With the Red Bulls looking to win their first game at home in front of a small, yet boisterous crowd at Red Bull Arena on a gorgeous Wednesday evening.
Red Bulls got that opportunity in the 19th minute when Omir Fernandez was taken down hard in the box by Jhon Espinoza and was awarded a penalty kick. Lewis Morgan stepped up and cooly converted the penalty shortly thereafter to put the Red Bulls in front, 1-0.
But just as the Red Bulls began to get comfortable, Chicago was able to equalize in the 38th minute as midfielder Chris Mueller gathered a long ball and played a short pass to Brian Gutierrez, who laid the ball back off for Mueller and his shot attempt found the back of the net, beating goalkeeper Carlos Coronel as the ball rocketed toward the top of the net.
As the whistle blew ending the first 45 minutes of play, the home side went into the locker room lamenting those missed chances they had earlier, and giving Chicago opportunities to score from dangerous set-pieces.
And it didn't take very long for the Fire to take advantage of those defensive mistakes by the Red Bulls and take the lead in the second half. After Lewis Morgan conceded a corner kick to Chicago, midfielder Xherdan Shaqiri whipped the ball in the box and found the head of defender Jhoran Duran. He then flicked the ball to the far post and defender Wyatt Omsberg headed the ball in the back of the net as the home supporters groaned in exasperation.
But then just nine minutes later, the Red Bulls struck back. Defender Cameron Harper took a pass from Omir Fernandez and he blasted the ball right to keeper Gabriel Slonina's hands, which slipped right through them as he and teammates watched helplessly as the ball bounced into the back of the net, equaling the match at two goals apiece.
The Fire went ahead late in the match when Kacper Przybylko dribbled the ball in the box, but the Red Bulls defenders broke up the play. However, with the ball still loose in the box, midfielder Frankie Amaya slid to in an attempt to clear it, but it went right to Xherdan Shaqiri instead, who did not miss from close range putting the visitors seemingly ahead for good in the 89th minute.
But... Just when the Fire was about to claim a key road victory, the Red Bulls managed to find a way to salvage a point in dramatic fashion as Patryk Klimala scored his fourth goal of the season to level the match one minute into stoppage time.
THE BIG PICTURE:
After fighting to earn a draw on the road in Chester on Saturday, the Red Bulls find themselves in a curious predicament at Red Bull Arena. A place where they own the league's best record since the building was constructed in 2010. Gerhard Struber did not hide his disappointment after the match, one that he expected to win against na side that is sitting in the bottom of the Eastern Conference table.
With COVID-related health protocols, players working their way back to fitness, and schedule congestion being a issue, and each match ending in a result that the home supporters will not accept, time will tell when he and his young team will start feeling the pressure to produce as they now must try to pick up points on the road once again, this time in Ft. Lauderdale against Inter Miami CF on Sunday.