After all the talk of Dax McCarty's return to Red Bull Arena, he delivered in the match on Saturday, but it wasn't enough for the Chicago Fire.
McCarty had an assist against his former team that tied things up in the second half, but the New York Red Bulls got a game-winner from Kemar Lawrence in the 71st minute in a 2-1 victory against the Fire.
After Bradley Wright Phillips gave the Red Bulls (5-3-1, 16 points) the lead in the first half, the Fire (3-3-2, 11 points) went into the locker room trailing despite having some quality chances to score. Nemanja Nikolic had a pair of open shots in the first half, but couldn't beat goalkeeper Luis Robles either time. Luis Solignac scuffed an open shot from close range as well.
In the second half, the match become wide open with both teams having plenty of shots. McCarty keyed the Fire's breakthrough by drawing defenders in the box and weaving free to set up Nikolic, who this time finished with a first-touch shot.
The Red Bulls didn't take long to respond though. Just 12 minutes after Nikolic's goal Kemar Lawrence scored down the left wing with a tight-angle shot that found the side netting and put the Red Bulls back on top.
The Fire could not find another equalizer and suffered a second straight loss. The Fire finished with the edge in possession (51 percent), shots (14 to 10) and shots on target (5 to 3).
David Accam returned to the starting lineup on the left wing in place of Michael de Leeuw. De Leeuw subbed into the match after the Red Bulls went up 2-1 and the Fire switched to a 4-4-2 formation.
The Fire fell outside the playoff spots in the Eastern Conference with the loss. Next Saturday the Fire visit the LA Galaxy.
MLS announced on Tuesday that the Chicago Fire’s first game back after the season was suspended due to COVID-19 has been postponed.
The Fire were supposed to play Nashville SC on Wednesday in their opening Group A match of the MLS is Back tournament. But since arriving in Orlando for the tournament, five Nashville players tested positive for COVID-19 and four others received inclusive results, requiring more testing. As a result, MLS is now evaluating Nashville’s participation in the tournament.
The Fire will now return to play on July 14 against Inter Miami CF.
The Fire also announced that the Drive-In Matchday event that was scheduled for Wednesday’s game has been rescheduled for their July 19 game against New York City FC. Fans who registered for that event will have the opportunity to sign-up again for the new date.
This is the second Chicago pro sports match altered as leagues try to return to play. The Chicago Red Stars also had a game cancelled in late June due to Orlando Pride players testing positive for COVID-19.
As MLB, the NHL and the NBA gear up to return it remains to be seen how they will react in a similar situation.
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MLS soccer is coming back this summer.
The league announced a plan to have all 26 MLS clubs resume play on July 8 with a league-wide “MLS is Back Tournament.”
The games will be played at the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex at Disney World, without fans in the stands.
Here’s how it will work:
Clubs can arrive in Orlando to begin training on June 24. Then a group stage will begin July 8 followed by a knockout stage, starting July 25.
There will be six groups, three for each the Western and Eastern Conferences. The group stage draw will occur on June 11 at 2:30 p.m. CT.
Each team will play three group stage matches, and the results from those games will count in the 2020 MLS regular season standings.
Then the top two teams from each group, plus the four best third-place finishers will advance to the knockout stage. That stage starts with a round-of-16, followed by quarterfinals, semifinals and then the championship game. The championship game will be played on August 11.
In case of a tie at the end of regulation in the knockout stage, games will proceed directly to a penalty kick shootout.
The winner of the tournament will earn a berth in the 2021 Concacaf Champions League.
At the conclusion of the tournament, MLS will resume its regular season followed by the MLS Cup Playoffs and MLS Cup.
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