Fire's Maicon Santos celebrates after putting the team ahead.
Chicago Fire fans can breathe a sigh of relief. The “Men in Red” finally got into the win column today. It took two late goals from an unlikely hero to defeat the New York Red Bulls 3-1 in front of over 12,000 fans at Toyota Park.
Brazilian forward Maicon Santos put the Fire ahead in the 83rd minute of play with a brilliant move that left Red Bulls goalkeeper Luis Robles out of position.
Santos followed his go-ahead goal with a header for an insurance score near the 90th-minute mark.
The match began as a seesaw event that featured good passing and solid defense.
Both teams swapped possessions during the first 15 minutes of play. Neither the Fire nor the Red Bulls were able to take advantage of several scoring chances.
The Fire had a great chance at drawing the first blood when they had a corner kick opportunity within the second minute, but Chris Rolfe lofted a soft shot that went into Robles' arms.
Later in the first half the Red Bulls took a 1-0 lead with a goal. The bicycle kick by defender Jamison Olave caught the attention of the fans, and Fire goalkeeper Sean Johnson never had a chance to make the save.
The Fire refused to hang their heads after such a highlight-reel play. Just before halftime, Daniel Paladini drew the Fire even with a wonderful header.
The Fire relied on strong defense to prevent the Red Bulls from scoring again.
The Fire escaped with a victory despite playing without injured stars Arne Friedrich and Patrick Nyarko. Injuries have plagued the team thus far in the season, but Sean Johnson assuredly believes that the Fire have what it takes to get past the setbacks.
Sean Johnson on the win and current injuries (quotes obtained firsthand):
We have a group of guys who are committed to a cause and that’s winning games and that’s all we set out to do. It doesn’t matter who is on the field, we have the personnel to step up at any point and time. As you saw tonight, players stepped up, done well. Hunter (Chicago Fire defender Hunter Jumper) his first start, fantastic. Just different stepped up at different times. It’s great when you have depth on the team and you can count on different guys to get the job done.
Johnson’s thoughts on getting the first win of the year were spot on. Different players must step up when their names are called.
The Fire’s first triumph was a complete team victory—one that should propel them as the season marches forward.
All quotes were obtained firsthand.