Second-Half Surge Leads Fire Past Red Bulls

Associated Press
Sunday, May 25, 2008; 10:53 PM

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. (AP) -- Serving a one-game suspension, New York Red Bulls coach Juan Carlos Osorio watched his team's game against the Chicago Fire on Sunday from a luxury suite at Giants Stadium instead of the sideline.

And Osorio did not like what he saw as he watched the Fire -- the team he coached last season -- break the game open with four second-half goals on their way to a 5-1 win. That snapped the Red Bulls' five-game unbeaten streak and handed them one of their worst home losses in franchise history.

"We were an easy team to play today," said Osorio, who was suspended for his ejection from the Red Bulls May 17 game against Kansas City. "We were not ready from the start of the game, and I take full responsibility for that. I think we got off to a very bad start and never recovered. It's very frustrating, to say the least."

Chad Barrett scored twice and Cuauhtemoc Blanco added a goal and three assists to lead Chicago (6-2-1), which also got goals from Chris Rolfe and Gonzalo Segares.

Blanco's play, though, drew the most attention.

"He's fabulous with his pinpoint passing. If you get in place and get some space, he's going to find you," Fire coach Denis Hamlett said. "In big games, the big players step up and make big plays. He knows what the big stage is all about and he's not afraid to step up on it."

Blanco and Barrett combined for the game's first goal in the seventh minute, when Blanco made a long pass ahead and Barrett beat Red Bulls defender Hunter Freeman to the ball. Barrett then fired a shot past New York goalie Jon Conway.

Chicago took control in the second half.

Rolfe scored on a header off a cross pass from Blanco in the 48th minute to give the Fire a 2-0 lead. Blanco then scored on a penalty kick in the 55th minute to make it 3-0, and Barrett and Segares added goals in the 60th and 62nd minutes.

"You have to give credit to them," Osorio said. "They're the best attacking team in the league and they came out attacking us. We gave up the early goal and it seemed like it was too much of a game for our players."

Jozy Altidore scored for the Red Bulls on a header off a corner kick in the 74th minute.

The performance did not please Osorio, who was the Fire's coach for 15 games last season after the team fired Dave Sarachan. He then decided against staying in Chicago and joined the Red Bulls (3-2-3).

"The best thing in the world is to be on the sidelines," Osorio said. "That wasn't the case today."

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