In a meeting of Red Bulls captains past and present, Dax McCarty (right) congratulates Sacha Kljestan. (Mike DiNovo/USA TODAY Sports)
BRIDGEVIEW, ILL. — Dax McCarty did not mince his words about the Chicago Fire’s stunning defeat in the MLS knockout round Wednesday night.
“I think the better team won, plain and simple,” the Fire captain said after his former team, the Red Bulls, rolled to a 4-0 victory at Toyota Park. “I thought we got outplayed all over the field.”
“I mean, that’s a team that’s been battle-tested in the playoffs now for five, six years. They’ve experienced a lot of hard games, a lot of tough games in the playoffs. They’ve experienced a lot of disappointment in the playoffs. We aren’t quite there yet. I thought we started the game really poorly, gave up some unfortunate goals, lost the best goal-scorer in the league one-on-one on the first goal. I think the second goal was a little bit too easy, cross and a finish.”
The former Red Bulls’ skipper was far from finished.
“Put yourself in a hole 2-0, it’s always going to be tough to come back against a team like that but we tried, we tried,” he said. The back-breaker third goal, turnover by myself in the midfield and they score; always going to have a hard time coming back from 3-0 after that. I don’t think we can have any arguments about the result. It’s unfortunate we didn’t play well and they played very well.”
McCarty, a popular player with Red Bulls’ fans, was sent to the Fire in a controversial, at least in New York and New Jersey, trade in January.
The hosts got off slowly and never recover.
The Fire allowed two goals — by Bradley Wright-Phillips and Sacha Kljestan — in the opening 11 minutes and Chicago could not dig out of a two-goal hole.
“When you don’t bring the intensity or desire to want to compete in the beginning of the game, you’re always going to struggle,” McCarty said. “We put ourselves in a hole down 2-0. They had a game plan and they stuck to it. They were really tough to break down, they were really compact in the middle.
“We weren’t very good tonight, we weren’t sharp on the ball. They were clinical, they finished a lot of chances that they got and we couldn’t create much, they defended really well. It’s a sad day, it’s a sad way to end a great season for us.”