Second-half surge leads Chicago Fire past New York Red Bulls

Tribune reporter

Chad Barrett admitted that he was a little extra motivated going into Sunday's game against former Fire coach Juan Carlos Osorio and the New York Red Bulls.

After the match, Barrett said the extra motivation was unnecessary.

"We didn't need it," he said.

The Fire defeated the Red Bulls 5-1, giving the Fire its second four-goal victory of the season. The convincing win left the Fire (6-2-1) tied for the best record in MLS with the New England Revolution and Columbus Crew.

It also put an end to a week in which much of the media attention surrounded the Fire facing Osorio, who left for the Red Bulls in December. While most players and coaches involved insisted it was just another game, the always honest Barrett disagreed.

"We came in wanting to say, 'You shouldn't have left,' " Barrett said.

The Fire forward backed up that feeling with a two-goal performance. His first came in the eighth minute after Cuauhtemoc Blanco's pass put him one-on-one with Red Bulls goalkeeper Jon Conway. Barrett struck again in the 60th minute when Conway juggled his shot and knocked it into the net.

Barrett leads the Fire with four goals and also has three assists. When asked if his confidence is at an all-time high, Barrett responded, "It can get higher."

Blanco had three assists to tie a Fire single-game record set by Andy Williams in 2003. Blanco also scored on a penalty kick in the 55th minute after Justin Mapp was taken down in the box by Andrew Boyens.

"In big games, big players step up," Fire coach Denis Hamlett said of Blanco. "He's doing this season what he did last season."

Chris Rolfe scored his second goal of the season on a header just after halftime and Gonzalo Segares scored his first in the 62nd minute off a rebound.

Jozy Altidore, who entered the match in the 54th minute, scored the Red Bulls' lone goal off a header in the 74th minute.

Osorio said Altidore was used as a sub because he missed two days of practice due to an in-grown toenail.

"Our guys are gutted," Hamlett said. "They emptied their tanks today. That's what we talked about before the game—leaving it all on the field. They're excited because you go on the road and score five goals, that's pretty impressive."

The Fire earned its fourth road win of the season in front of 14,754 fans at Giants Stadium. That equaled the number of road victories the Fire had during the 2007 regular season. That's good news for the Fire, considering three of its next five games are away from Toyota Park.

Fire defender Wilman Conde, who publicly asked to be traded to the Red Bulls in February, received his second start on Sunday. Conde said his motive for the trade request was so that he could be reunited with Osorio, who brought him to the Fire.

"Osorio is a person who from the beginning has showed confidence in me," Conde said after the game. "For a player, that gives you confidence.

"It's been a complex season. This is just my second start. But I'm happy we played well and got a good result."

Osorio was forced to watch the game from a suite because of a red card he received against the Kansas City Wizards on May 17.

"It was very frustrating, to say the least," Osorio said about not getting to coach from the field. "Now we have to move on. ... This was almost the same Chicago team that went to the conference finals last year, so they were more experienced.

"We were not ready from the start of the game, and I take full responsibility for that."

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