Chicago may not have solved its problems, but the team’s found a new way to overcoming them. Getting three goals from rookie Harry Shipp, the Fire are into the win column for the first time under Frank Yallop, beating New York 5-4 victory in MLS’s first game to feature two hat tricks.
That second trick came from Bradley Wright-Phillips, whose first half goal gave New York a 2-1 lead going into halftime. Within the second’s half first 20 minutes, however, Chicago was up 5-2, with Shipp’s second and third goals of his night (season, and career) leading a four-goal outburst that built a seemingly insurmountable lead.
Wright-Phillips was intent on challenging that notion. His eighth of the season — a right-footed finish from just inside the 18-yard box — pulled New York within two. When Jhon Kennedy Hurtado’s feet got tangled up with Theirry Henry’s, taking the Red Bull forward down in the box, Wright-Phillips finished from the spot. One week after giving up a two-goal lead late to Real Salt Lake, Chicago was facing a great collapse, with New York having 12 minutes to find the day’s 10th goal.
In the 81st minute, the Red Bulls nearly had that equalizer. Sean Johnson, however, thought better for letting Chicago’s first win slip away. Bolting off his line after a pass found Henry behind the line in the left of the box, Johnson gave the New York star little chance to claim the tying goal, cutting down all of his angles at 12 yards out. Fifteen minutes later, Chicago was into the win column.
For both sides (and the officials), Saturday’s was a very flawed performance; not that the viewing experiences wasn’t better for it. The teams’ defenses wavered from disastrous and potential disaster — conceding give times in 22 minutes, at one point — but how else are you going to get a nine-goal goal? How else are you going to get two hat tricks? From a spectators’ perspective, you’d rather the mistakes happen on the defensive end than see players firing balls into the stands all night.
Thankfully, that didn’t happen. Instead, the heavy favorite for Rookie of the Year broke into the goals column in a big way, and a player who’s proving Henry’s most productive partner since Kenny Cooper took the league’s goal-scoring lead.