Patryk Klimala celebrates his game-winning goal. (Matt Marton-USA TODAY Sports)
By Michael Lewis
In a wild encounter that included two red cards, an 80-minute weather delay and some controversial calls, the Red Bulls managed to weather the storm to complete a 2-1 comeback win over the nine-man Chicago Fire on Saturday night.
Patryk Klimala converted a penalty kick – his second goal of the match – a minute into second-half stoppage time decided matters at a water-logged Soldier Field.
— New York Red Bulls (@NewYorkRedBulls) May 1, 2022
The Red Bulls (5-2-2, 17 points), who won on the road for the fifth consecutive time at the start of the season to tie a 24-year-old MLS record, vaulted into a first-place tie with the Philadelphia Union in the Eastern Conference. The 1998 LA Galaxy is the only other MLS squad to have won five away matches from the start of the season. The Fire (10) fell to 2-3-4.
“It’s tough to win on the road,” center back Aaron Long said. “I think the history of the league kind of proves that. So, it’s no small feat that we are winning on the road right now. It just proves that the mentality is right within the group to come back and win today, kind of the cherry on top.”
Chicago played the final eight minutes of regulation and six minutes of injury time two men down after John Duran (79th minute) and Rafael Czichos (82nd minute) were assessed their second yellow cards of the match by referee Jon Freemon.
It was an uphill battle just about the entire way for the visitors, but they prevailed.
“Today, with so many situations that, you could lose the concentration or the focus, but I think this game shows me so many good things how we improve our mindset,” head coach Gerhard Struber said. “Nothing can bring us out of our focus and this shows me we are much more ready like one season ago.”
An Ashley Fletcher handball led to a Xherdan Shaqiri penalty kick in the 17th minute past goalkeeper Carlos Coronel for a 1-0 Chicago lead.
The Red Bulls also had Tom Edwards goal called back via VAR after it was determined that Aaron Long was offside.
The opening half took much long than usual to complete after the weather delay. After a three-minute halftime intermission, play resumed on the pitch.
The visitors discovered their mojo in the second half, equalizing on Klimala’s first goal in the 75th minute as he scored from 12 yards off a Luquinhas feed from the right side.
After the two red cards, Klimala struck again a minute into added time after Miguel Ángel Navarro tripped the Red Bulls forward in the box. On the ensuing penalty, Klimala sent goalkeeper Gaga Slonina the wrong way as he slotted his attempt into the right side for the game-winner.
Klimala entered the game with only one goal.
“I thought okay, this is the night when I’m going to score,” he said. “This is the mindset when I have to go. I have to score every game, I try to score every game. Today also I get the substitution for Omir [Fernandez] I think at halftime. I had in my mindset I had to score, I have to help the team.”
FrontRowSoccer.com editor Michael Lewis has written a new book, ALIVE AND KICKING The incredible but true story of the Rochester Lancers. You can learn more about it or purchase it here: