MacDonald nets 2 goals, Fire tops Red Bulls 2-0

The Associated Press

HARRISON, N.J. (AP) -- Sherjill MacDonald has played in only 12 games with the Chicago Fire, and still isn't feeling 100 percent.

The New York Red Bulls would never believe it.

MacDonald scored two second-half goals and led the Fire to a crucial 2-0 win over the Red Bulls on Saturday.

''I hadn't played for a few games there, but I feel my stamina is getting better,'' said MacDonald, who doubled his scoring production of the season on Saturday. ''I think it's all been about going back to basics and doing what we do best.''

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, which fell to fourth in the East, dropped to 11-2-3 at home. The Red Bulls still haven't secured a playoff spot.

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 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.

''It was one of those situations where I thought I had a chance to come out and get it,'' said Robles, who made his second career start in goal. ''He got to it with his speed and beat me. It's as simple as that.''

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.

''We did control possession and had our chances,'' Red Bulls coach Hans Backe said. ''We just didn't take advantage of our chances. It's very frustrating that we didn't score. It's a good feeling that we controlled possession and created about three really good chances. But when you don't take advantage of those chances, you give the other team the chance to score. We picked the wrong team to lose to.''

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.

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