If you’re only going to have one shot on goal the entire game, you better make it count. That’s exactly what Mike Grella did with his strike for the New York Red Bulls on Wednesday.
Grella finished off a great build-up play with his fourth goal of the season to provide the only goal as the Red Bulls came away with a 1-0 victory over the Chicago Fire on Wednesday night. The win marked the Red Bulls’ third consecutive triumph at home, and are now undefeated in four of their last five games.
The goal by Grella, now the team’s leading scorer, was initially set up by last season’s scoring leader on the team, Bradley Wright-Phillips. Gaining possession of the ball just past the halfway line after a Fire turnover, Wright-Phillips played a back-heel pass to the middle of the field to Lloyd Sam, who then saw a streaking Grella down the left flank. Taking advantage of the space around him, Grella slotted home a shot to the lower far corner past Fire back-up goalkeeper Sean Johnson to set off celebrations at Red Bull Arena.
Continuing his marksmanship in front of goal, Grella now has four goals on the season on only 16 total shots (10 on goal).
Befitting two teams who came into the game out of form all season – the two teams came into the game the only two in MLS not to average at least one point earned per game – both the Red Bulls and Fire failed to create gilt-edged opportunities to score in the first half. Though the Red Bulls were able to string passes together a few times while in possession, they ended the first half without a shot on goal. Chicago only had one shot on goal through the first 45 minutes, and that didn’t include David Accam’s strike off the crossbar from 35 yards on a free kick opportunity.
Though the chances for the Red Bulls were scarce, their defense proved to be what stood out for them, as they recorded only their second clean sheet of the season. Airline Collin, the center back acquired from Orlando City just a month ago, had a stellar game at the back, cutting out crossing attempts by the Fire wingers and nullifying the Fire strikers from playing a part in threatening the Red Bulls’ goal.
Chicago continues to struggle in front of goal, as the team has only scored a grand total of eight goals in their 10 games this season. Three of those tallies came in their season-opening 4-3 loss to New York City FC all the way back on Mar. 6.
The Red Bulls now get set for Rivalry Week in MLS this weekend and a game at Yankee Stadium against NYCFC. Last season, the Red Bulls took both meetings in the so-called Hudson River Derby.
[Cover photo (Mike Grella/Bradley Wright-Phillips) courtesy of Matt Kremkau/Empire of Soccer]