The Toyota Park Jinx continues as Red Bulls Fall to the Fire

Photo by Uponor

This visit to Bridgeview, Illinois was suppose to be different because of where these two sides are sitting in the Eastern Conference Standings. This visit to Toyota Park was suppose to be a game where the Red Bulls needed to take care of business against a Chicago Fire side that has played poorly and always seems to fall flat late in matches, but whenever the Red Bulls visit the Chicago Fire at Toyota Park these types of moments never happen at all.

Coming into the Fire Station the Red Bulls are a whopping 0-8-5 in thirteen visits with only five points, with a big week right in front of them they needed to get at least a solid performance and a big three points to get even closer to DC United and while they got a clear penalty inside the first ten minutes of the match and converted by Sacha Kljestan, that's where it all went wrong.

The next thirty-five minutes went horribly wrong as the Red Bulls somehow found a way to get broken down and allowed the Fire to do damage once again by converting twice and taking a two goals to one lead into halftime. Kennedy Igboananike was allowed to get into space and got a good ball to position himself to score and did so beating Luis Robles with ease in the 22nd minute.

Then it was Patrick Nyarko who was inside the top of the area and allowed to create a turnaround shot and beat Robles inside the near post in the 41st minute to take the lead. In both goals the back line was in complete shambles allowing the Fire to get into space and taking advantage of the Red Bulls poor defensive positioning. It went horribly wrong and Jesse Marsch had to rally the troops inside the locker room.

It seemed like that did happen in the 49th minute as the Red Bulls earned a corner and tried some trickery to get their equalizer in the match. Lloyd Sam put the ball inside the far corner and toe tapped it twice to signal that the ball is in play and Kljestan went to take the corner. But instead of actually crossing the ball into the area he asked the assistant referee on the near side (Bench side)
if it was o.k. to dribble the ball to the area and the assistant nodded yes. Kljestan brought the ball from the corner and when he was close enough made the cross and found Ronald Zubar for his first of the season and second in all competitions.

But that equalizer never stood as the Fire once again took advantage of a lack luster Red Bulls backline as Igboananike was able to slip into the defense and scored his second of the match beating Robles once again and this time inside the far post in the 73rd minute to give the Fire the 3-2 victory and to give them life for a possible playoff push.

But going back to the Zubar goal, there seems to be an issue of how it was taken by the Red Bulls. during the broadcast on MSG Network Steve Cangelosi and Shep Messing were being informed by the PRO Referee division of MLS that the goal that was scored might have been an mistake. Law 17 in the Corner Kick section and especially in 13.5 called ball in play the context reads this way 

(The ball is in play (able to be played by an attacker other than the kicker or by an opponent) when it has been kicked and moved. The distance to be moved is minimal and the “kick” need only be a touch of the ball with the foot in a kicking motion. Simply tapping the top of the ball with the foot or stepping on the ball are not sufficient.

When the restart of play is based on the ball being kicked and moved, the referee must ensure that the ball is indeed kicked (touched with the foot in a kicking motion) and moved (caused to go from one place to another). Being “kicked” does not include an action in which the ball is dragged by continuous contact with the foot. Being “moved” does not include the ball simply quivering, trembling, or shaking as a result of light contact. The referee must make the final decision on what is and is not “kicked and moved” based on the spirit and flow of the match. In all events, the ball must be put into play properly.

The referee must judge carefully whether any particular kick of the ball and subsequent movement was indeed reasonably taken with the intention of putting the ball into play rather than with the intention merely to position the ball for the restart. If the ball is just being repositioned (even if the foot is used to do this), play has not been restarted. Likewise, referees should not unfairly punish for “failing to respect the required distance” when an opponent was clearly confused by a touch and movement of the ball which was not a restart.

The referee must make the final decision on what is a “kick” and what is “not a kick” based on his or her feeling for the game-what FIFA calls “Fingerspitzengefuehl” (literally: “sensing with one’s fingertips”). The bottom line is that not everything that produces movement of the ball is a kick and thus would not legally put the ball into play in any of the kicking restarts.)

So does this constitute as a true goal or not? Well we do see Lloyd Sam touching the ball twice with his foot and the ball does move around twice and also informing the A.R. about what the Red Bulls were going to do, so in my view this should be a legal goal and allowed. Both Shep Messing of MSG & Kevin Egan of Comcast Sportsnet Chicago have both claimed this is a good goal. But we shall see what PRO says if there is a write up on the official MLS website.

But while no one can really complain about the Red Bulls going 7-2-1 in their last ten including this match, the truth is that the Red Bulls are now 0-9-5 at Toyota Park and while some might call it a trap game, to be honest it wasn't. This performance by the Red Bulls went up and down and even if they did get a point out of it, you don't know if it was well deserved or not. But the truth is this is that the jinx continues for the Red Bulls and now have to face DC United in another big match up where they need to get closer to the top of the East and they need to get this ugly feeling out of their systems a.s.a.p.

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