Chicago Fire: Sherjill MacDonald
HARRISON, N.J. -- Sherjill MacDonald scored two second-half goals, lifting the Chicago Fire to a crucial 2-0 win over the New York Red Bulls on Saturday.
The Fire (17-10-5) jumped three points ahead of the Red Bulls (15-9-8) in the Eastern Conference, with two games remaining, and moved closer to earning a spot in the MLS Cup playoffs. Chicago can get in if Columbus loses to Sporting Kansas City on Sunday.
New York dropped to 11-2-3 at home.
MacDonald broke a scoreless tie in the 65th minute by getting past two Red Bulls defenders off a fine lead pass from Chris Rolfe, then hitting a shot past goalkeeper Luis Robles.
MacDonald, who had only two goals this season before Saturday, made it 2-0 in the 79th minute, taking a pass from Daniel Paladini and sprinting past two defenders to touch it gently past Robles.
The Red Bulls had controlled much of the action in the first half, but had nothing to show for it. Sean Johnson made only one save to secure his fifth shutout of the season.
In the 27th minute, Red Bulls captain Thierry Henry had a wide open shot, but it was knocked aside by a sliding stop with the left leg by Arne Friedrich. Six minutes later, Dax McCarty's left-footed drive from 25 yards sailed wide right.
The Fire responded late in the first half, when Alvaro Fernandez rose high above the Red Bulls defense to get his head on a cross from Jalil Anibaba, but Fernandez' attempt sailed over the crossbar.
The Red Bulls had two excellent chances in the 57th minute. Thierry Henry fired a shot from point blank range that sailed wide left, and then he sent a corner kick to the box that went directly to Tim Cahill. But the Aussie, who has had trouble scoring since joining the MLS two months ago, put a header that Johnson caught.
Cahill was visibly upset, standing with his hands over his face after the save.
Chris Rolfe also scored to help the Fire (12-7-5) win their third straight and move into a tie with New York for second place in the Eastern Conference, five points behind Kansas City.
Fernando Cardenas scored for New England (6-13-5), which dropped to 0-6-1 in its last seven matches. The Revolution also lost by one goal for the 12th time this season.
MacDonald scored in his fourth league game on a header from six yards out in the 25th minute. It was set up by Patrick Nyarko's floating cross from deep in the left corner, and McDonald's shot whistled past Revolution goalkeeper Matt Reis.
The 27-year-old MacDonald joined the Fire as a designated player on July 24, signed from a team in Belgium to boost Chicago's attack.
The Fire opened the scoring on Rolfe's penalty kick in the fifth minute. Rolfe, in his second stint with Chicago, was tripped in the penalty area by defender A.J. Soares, and referee Sorin Stoica awarded the penalty kick.
New England tied it on Cardenas' shot from the goalmouth in the 11th minute. Cardenas' kick caromed off goalkeeper Sean Johnson and a Chicago defender before rolling over the goal line.
Johnson preserved the victory by diving to stop a 28-yard shot by Soares just before time expired.
The 27-year-old MacDonald has played with Beerschot AC in the Belgian Pro League since 2009 and scored 15 goals in 82 matches through the 2012 season. He also played in England, Germany and the Netherlands.
"Sherjill is a goal scorer who can hold the ball up, attack with pace and is very technically sound," Fire coach Frank Klopas in a statement. "He has competed at a high level in Europe and will bolster our attack as we make a push toward the MLS Cup Playoffs."
MacDonald began practicing with the Fire on Tuesday. He will fill a Designated Player slot, and the Fire will have to free one of their current international player slots for MacDonald to play.
The Fire are in fifth place in the Eastern Conference with 31 points. They've scored 22 goals and allowed 22 goals in 20 games this season.