The New York Red Bulls traveled to Toyota Park to take on the Chicago Fire on Wednesday night. The hosts finished third in the Eastern Conference in the regular season just two points behind New York City FC. The Red Bulls finished sixth in the conference which was good enough for the sixth and final playoff spot.
Despite the fact that Chicago finished above their competitors and played host on Wednesday, a lot of people had their doubts for a number of reasons. First off, Chicago hasn't appeared in the playoffs since 2012. Another big reason that Chicago had doubters is due to the fact that the Red Bulls have much more experience on the roster as well as a healthy mix of youngsters including Sean Davis and Tyler Adams. Oh, and another reason is that Bastian Schweinsteiger was listed as questionable all week and did not end up starting the match.
It didn't take long for the Red Bulls to open the scoring and who else but Bradley Wright-Phillips? It took just seven minutes for the Englishman to put the ball in the net.
Damien Perrinelle played a ball into the box which fell on to the foot of BWP who expertly displayed his clinical nature in front of goal. Wright-Phillips missed the ball on his first attempt which worked out in his favor as it bounced over the leg of Matt Lampson and BWP rolled the ball into the empty net. Bradley Wright-Phillips who scored 17 regular season goals did not stop in the playoffs.
Kljestan doubles the lead
It took even less time for the visitors to score again. Chicago players looked to turn off mentally following the opening goal and fell asleep for the Red Bull's goal. Wright-Phillips was once again involved in the goal as he dropped a little deeper into the midfield and played the ball out wide to Tyler Adams who was playing as a wing-back. Tyler Adams picked the ball up, took on Brandon Vincent with success and played the ball across to Sacha Kljestan who slipped off the back of his defender and slotted the ball between Matt Lampson's legs.
Red Bulls match first half tally
Despite a lot of pressure, Chicago made it to halftime without conceding a third goal. Unfortunately for them, all of that ended in the 71st minute when Daniel Royer scored his first career MLS playoff goal. The Austrian scored the best goal of the bunch. Bradley Wright-Phillips led a counter-attack and found the feet of Royer. Royer played the ball to his left to the feet of Sean Davis who played the ball back, Royer spun with the ball on his foot and slotted the ball past Lampson to wrap the game up.
Gonzalo Veron added a fourth goal when a sloppy Chicago possession ended at the feet of Sacha Kljestan. Sacha turned, played Gonzalo Veron through on goal and the Argentian DP lifted the ball over Lampson to seal things up and end the game in the 87th minute.
The Red Bulls will now take on Toronto FC in the next round of the playoffs. The two-legged series will start at Red Bull Arena and finish at BMO Field. Toronto whose team is headlined by Sebastian Giovinco, Jozy Altidore, and Michael Bradley will be no easy task to overcome.
In fact, in two meetings with the club this season, the Red Bulls could not beat the 2017 Supporters' Shield winners. The match which took place in Toronto ended in a 4-2 win to the hosts. Justin Morrow scored a hat-trick on the day proving that Toronto can score in a number of ways even when Giovinco and Altidore cannot get their name on the scoresheet.
The Red Bulls will have their hands full with Toronto but after a 4-0 win on Wednesday they proved they are capable of surprising everybody, can they do the same against Toronto?