2017 MLS Cup Playoffs Knockout Round Analysis: Chicago Fire vs New York Red Bulls

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(Bridgeview, IL)- On a frigid night at Toyota Park the New York Red Bulls shocked the Major League Soccer world with a 4-0 trouncing of the Chicago Fire at their home ground. This match-up was wrought with anticipation, and there was no shortage of action. It did not, however, live up to the close, competitive knockout round game it was thought to be.

The Red Bulls controlled the pace of the game from the onset. Bradley Wright-Phillips broke the ice in just the seventh minute. New York continued dominating the run of play, and only four minutes after the first, captain Sacha Kljestan knocked home a second.

The Fire picked up their play after the second goal, possessing the ball more, and creating some chances. Unfortunately for the 11,000 plus at Toyota Park, a goal never came. Even the winner of the 2017 MLS Golden Boot, Nemanja Nikolic, could not find the back of the net. In the 70th minute, Daniel Royer placed one far post after a beautiful turn towards the net to make it 3-0, and virtually end the contest. Finally, substitute Gonzalo Veron chipped goalkeeper Matt Lampson for good measure, and the 4-0 victory.

2017 MLS Cup Playoffs Knockout Round Analysis: Chicago Fire vs New York Red Bulls

Play-making

Obviously, there is a lot to be happy about for Red Bulls’ supporters after this match. This is especially true for the final play-making ability shown on the pitch Wednesday night. The Red Bulls showed class against Chicago. Every single goal on the night came from an incredibly impressive assist.

To start, BWP scored an otherwise ugly goal after a gorgeous lob pass from center back Damien Perrinelle caught the Fire back line off guard. The ball Perrinelle played had an incredibly high degree of difficulty. Based on the timing (BWP was onside by the skin of his teeth), and body positioning (Perrinelle was angled awkwardly), the assist was remarkable.

Tyler Adams assisted Kljestan’s goal with a superb delivery from the right flank. The 18-year-old did well to beat his man, and proceeded to slide a teasing cross along the six-yard box to the foot of the captain. Next, Sean Davis provided the helper for Royer’s goal. This pass was not very far and did not look like much, but it was much more than that. Royer’s back was to goal, and in order to turn the dying play into a threat, Davis had to weight the pass perfectly so Royer could turn and fire.

Finally, Kljestan created Veron’s stunning golazo with a chip of his own. The RBNY captain added extra style points to his assist by chipping over World Cup champion Bastian Schweinsteiger before the class finish by Veron.

Seeing the Red Bulls this clinical is a promising sign for Metro fans moving forward.

Sacha Kljestan

The bottom line is, when Kljestan plays well, the New York Red Bulls play well. On Wednesday night, he had arguably one of his best games of the 2017 campaign. The captain scored a quality goal, provided a world-class assist, and ran the show in the midfield.

The graphic says it all- number 16 was all over Toyota Park making plays. Defensively, Kljestan made a handful of key recoveries and interceptions in the center of the pitch. Overall, this performance is what Jesse Marsch needs from his top man to propel the Red Bulls to MLS Cup.

What’s Next?

After an impressive display in the knockout round in Chicago, it is now time for the Red Bulls to take on the best ever. Finishing with 69 points, Toronto FC broke an MLS record for best ever regular season, topping the 1998 LA Galaxy who totaled 68. New York will have their hands full with the Reds’ deadly attack, but if they play like they did Wednesday night, it will be a playoff match-up for the ages.

The first leg will be played either Monday 10/30, or Tuesday on Halloween at Red Bull Arena. The second leg will be held at BMO Field on November 5th. Keep your eyes out for these matches. They may display some of the most entertaining and high quality soccer MLS has to offer.

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