HARRISON, N.J. -- In a match that could be a preview of the Major League Soccer postseason, Chicago sent a very clear message to New York: Take the Fire very seriously as MLS Cup contenders.
Chicago's Designated Player Sherjill MacDonald scored two goals in the second half to give the Fire a crucial 2-0 victory on the road against the Red Bulls. The vital victory will secure second place in the Eastern Conference for the Fire if the team wins its remaining two matches of the season.
The result also places further pressure on New York's Hans Backe as Jerome de Bontin, the team's new general manager, was in attendance.
The Red Bulls were aggressive early and it appeared as if the team would be the first to score having 58.9 percent possession in the first half. In the second half, Chicago wisely waited for New York to make a mistake and took the lead on a counter attack. The Fire's MacDonald received a precise killer-pass from striking partner Chris Rolfe on the break and finished a one-on-one opportunity with Luis Robles, scoring in the 65th minute.
But New York's mistakes didn't end there. MacDonald doubled his tally when Robles came outside of the goal area, gently rolling the ball into the back of the net in the 78th minute for his fourth goal of the season. The Dutchman was assisted by Daniel Paladini with a through ball similar to Rolfe's a few moments early.
After that goal, New York's announced crowd of 21,157 was quiet until the end of the match, when it booed the home team.
Prior to Chicago's two goals, New York had several chances to put away the visiting side but couldn't get past U.S. international Sean Johnson. The young keeper saved a rebound from Thierry Henry in the box and then stopped a trademark Tim Cahill header on the ensuing play.
Follow ALEX LABIDOU on