HARRISON, N.J. (AP) — Joel Lindpere’s 63rd-minute goal allowed the New York Red Bulls to tie the Chicago Fire 2-2 on Saturday night and move into third place in the Eastern Conference by themselves.
The Red Bulls (6-6-13) have not won since a 5-0 victory over Toronto on June 6. But the tie gave them 31 points, one better than Sporting Kansas City.
“As it looks today, we’re definitely a playoff team,” Red Bulls coach Hans Backe said. “And if we make the playoffs, we’ll be very dangerous.”
They have looked anything but dangerous the last two months, going 1-4-6 in their last 11 games. While they looked much better than in their 3-0 loss to Real Salt Lake last week, the Red Bulls still were unable to beat a Fire (2-7-14) team despite outshooting the visitors 20-9.
“No doubt, when you play a solid game, it’s frustrating to come away with a tie,” defender Tim Ream said. “It’s not a good tie, especially with the amount of possession we had. Besides, you’re at home, and you should be winning games at home.”
Lindpere’s sixth goal of the season came on a one-timer off Dane Richards’ feed from the right side.
The first half ended with the Fire up 2-1 thanks to an equalizing goal in the 16th minute from Dominic Oduro and the go-ahead tally by Sebastian Grazzini in the 24th minute.
Grazzini’s goal came on Chris Konopka’s rebound off Oduro’s shot. Konopka, an MLS pool goalkeeper who can be rented by any team in hardship situations, started because scheduled starter Bouna Coundoul’s flight from international duty in Senegal arrived late Friday.
The Red Bulls’ sole rostered goalkeeper Saturday, Alex Horwath, remained on the bench. Primary starter Frank Rost was out with a quadriceps tear.
Thierry Henry scored his league-leading 12th goal in the ninth minute for the Red Bulls off a nifty triangular passing sequence from Roy Miller to Dax McCarty to Richards to Henry, who blasted it in from 16 yards out.
But what had been a strong back four earlier in the season continued to show cracks when defenders Chris Albright and Tim Ream failed to stop Patrick Nyarko’s run down the left side. The forward split the defenders and fed it to Oduro, who tied the game with his seventh goal.
The Fire, most likely out of playoff contention, were happy with the tie.
“Obviously, it’s a good point on the road,” coach Frank Klopas said. “It’s good. Now we have to go back home and get three points.”