Was Sherjill MacDonald offside on the second goal? Yeah, probably. But they counted it. And the Dutch target man certainly wasn’t offside on his first strike, a calm and technical finish that will go a long, long way to getting the Fire into better playoff positioning. Around his two goals, MacDonald also worked his blue socks off, harassing defenders and holding the ball in high positions.
Packaged for take-away:
Some very good performances could be found around the park for Chicago, including Chris Rolfe, center back Arne Friedrich and right-sided attacker Patrick Nyarko.
Frank Klopas drew up a good plan. The Fire are better when they keep things tight in the back and let Rolfe run the counter attack, which is exactly how it worked Saturday. The key, of course, is MacDonald’s steady hold-up work, which brings Rolfe and others into the play.
New York needed about 10 minutes to match the visitor’s intensity, and to work out Chicago’s early high pressure.
Ricardo Salazar reached for the yellow card 13 minutes in as Red Bulls left back Wilman Conde hooked Nyarko from behind. It was the kind of tactical, cynical foul that frequently goes without a booking. So, good for Salazar; the games are better to watch for everyone when players assess and understand early that tactical fouling will be dealt with.
Nyarko continued to trouble Conde. Remember, Conde is really a center back
Last two matches, Kenny Cooper has simplified his game. It’s working for him, although …
On the other hand, Cooper doesn’t always read situations as well as he should. Case in point, a 19th-minute opportunity that Tim Cahill teed up wonderfully for him — only Cooper cut his run short and the opportunity died without an attempt on goal.
Dax McCarty’s passing lacked a little zip at times, and a bit of precision at other times. He wasn’t bad, and had plenty of energy, as usual. But passing to the wrong foot, or slowing the attack with something that takes a teammate off stride, those little things matter in the tight matches.
Just as last week, Thierry Henry was “in the mood,” as they say in the first half. The Red Bull’s primary attacking threat, playing a free role behind Cooper, was active and finding good spaces. On the ball … And he did a fair amount of running, providing early pressure in high areas and occasional cover when Cahill or someone else was drawn out of position.
Henry may have burned up too much fuel in those first 45, however. He played higher up the field after the break, less dutiful in working into those spots and making himself available, and the Red Bulls’ midfield suffered for it. Henry saw much less of the ball, which limited the Red Bulls possession and reduced their dangerous moments. Meanwhile, more comfortable in the central third, Chicago slowly took hold.
Rolfe had some wonderfully creative moments, early as the home team had a little trouble sorting its midfield and determining how to deal with his movement into the “hole” between the back line and the line of New York midfielders. Later, Rolfe did more damage off those counter-attack chances.
Clearly concerned about the yellow card, and about his left back’s ability to contain the speedy Nyarko, Red Bulls manager Hans Backe removed Conde at halftime. That provided young defender Connor Lade with his next chance to impress. The Red Bulls instantly added more push up the left side, but his inexperience dented the home side in a couple of places.
About twice a match, Fire center back Friedrich decides to have a quick stroll forward, and he’s quite foxy about it. He put himself in just the right spot in the 52nd minute, guiding the attack initially and then getting on the end of a short cross to force a credible save from Luis Robles.
The Red Bulls got caught being too slow in organizing defensively after losing a ball in midfield. Rolfe took advantage as center back Heath Pearce dropped off and Lade remained up a little too high. MacDonald recognized the lack of shape and shot into the space just as Rolfe took a good first touch and played his striker through to goal.
Burnley boss Sean Dyche ready for PL after “business-like” promotion
Heading into his second stint in the Premier League, Burnley boss Sean Dyche said there is a different feeling this time around after a “business-like” season at Turf Moor.
The expectation rises from everyone, the money available to the club for its future – all of the things that it brings.
The mentality of the players has been firm all year. We were questioned heavily around Christmas, but I never blinked.
I knew what we were about, I knew the group we’d got, I knew the mentality and I knew we could go all the way.
Last time we were under the radar, it was a fairytale. This one was organized, it was business-like and it was well-fashioned from all involved, especially the players.
If Burnley was questioned at Christmas, they certainly had an answer. After losing to Hull City on Boxing Day, the Clarets have gone unbeaten in 22 matches to climb to the top of the Championship table.
Burnley’s campaign this season has been eerily similar to their last promotion to the PL after the 2013-14 season. If the Clarets win their final game next weekend, they will finish with an identical record from 2014 of 26-15-5, good for 93 points. Dyche’s next job will be keeping Burnley up, as they have been relegated after each of their previous three seasons in the top flight.
We know how they got here, but an interesting question is which moment will live in your memory when you’re reminded of Leicester’s run?
Game 5 — Dyer win Derby in stoppage
It had been a remarkable early season for Claudio Ranieri‘s troops when the Foxes came back from a 2-0 deficit against Midlands rivals Aston Villa, and substitute Nathan Dyer capped off the 3-2 win in style.
Game 14 — Vardy sets a Premier League record
Ruud van Nistelrooy taking a backseat to Jamie Vardy was unfathomable even a month beforehand, but Vardy’s goal gave him a Premier League record 11-straight matches with a goal (and all in one season). Not bad for the man deemed too old by a 2.Bundesliga team.
Game 25 — Blowout at the Etihad
Certainly many had this date circled as the beginning of a downturn for Leicester, but Riyad Mahrez dazzled while Robert Huth scored a pair of goals in a 3-1 ride past Manchester City on the road. It was on.
Game 27 — Ulloa starts earthquakes
Leicester looked destined to somehow find a draw from a dominant performance when Leonardo Ulloa lifted the Foxes to a late win over Norwich, causing mini earthquakes at the King Power Stadium.
Game 34 — Chaos at King Power
A game easily categorized in short, insane outbursts, or just the name Jon Moss
Vardy sent off for diving ?!? Penalty to West Ham for what?!? Penalty to Leicester for what?!?
LONDON (AP) The English Football Association has charged Manchester United midfielder Marouane Fellaini and Leicester defender Robert Huth with violent conduct after they clashed during a Premier League game at the weekend.
Fellaini reacted to getting his hair pulled by Huth by appearing to strike the defender with his elbow as they jostled at a set-piece during the 1-1 draw between the teams on Sunday.