Joel Lindpere was the hero as the New York Red Bulls beat Chicago Fire 1-0 at their first-ever regular season game at the brand-new Red Bull Arena.
Estonian Lindpere – making his MLS debut – popped up in the 40th minute to crash home an emphatic volley. Man of the match Bouna Coundoul then produced a series of impressive saves to secure the Red Bulls’ fourth consecutive opening-day win.
Saturday’s win comes hot on the heels of last week’s 3-1 friendly win over Santos, and confidence at the Red Bull Arena is clearly high.
24,572 fans had packed into the new stadium and when the game’s decisive moment came, they weren’t disappointed. Seizing on possession in midfield, Lindpere shipped the ball out to Danleigh Borman, whose cross was headed back by Juan Pablo Angel before the Estonian unleashed an unstoppable volley past Fire keeper Andrew Dykstra.
New signing Lindpere has made an instant impression on his teammates: “He’s a friggin' pit bull out there,” said right-back Jeremy Hall. “Offensively and defensively he links up so well and does so many things for us in settling the team down.”
Hans Backe’s men were second-best in possession for much of the game and had Coundoul to thank for securing the win. His most impressive save came midway through the second half as he turned a Mike Banner free kick around the post.
Chicago were also unlucky to see Brian McBride’s bicycle kick come back off the post, while Patrick Nyarko wasted a golden chance to snatch a share of the points late in the game.
Backe’s team now travels to Seattle hoping to build on their win, but their new coach isn’t getting carried away: “We forced it a little too much in the attacking game," he said. "We had some unforced errors.”
The Swede did pay tribute to the home crowd, who he feels could be worth "six or seven points" over the season.
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