Red Bulls douse Fire, claim MLS Supporters` Shield
New York: The New York Red Bulls pummelled the Chicago Fire 5-2 on Sunday to win the MLS Supporters` Shield for the first time.
New York had already secured a post-season berth. But with the victory they captured their first significant Major League Soccer honour -- the Supporters` Shield awarded to the team with the best regular-season record.
They are now assured of home field advantage in the MLS Cup playoffs -- including hosting the MLS Cup Final if they make it to the league`s title match.
After the Fire -- who needed at least a draw to have a chance of sneaking into the playoffs -- opened the scoring in the sixth minute, New York`s former French international Thierry Henry scored a brilliant equaliser in the 24th.
Henry used his chest to bring down a pass lobbed from Peguy Luyindula and slammed a shot on the half-volley that struck the underside of the crossbar and went in.
The Red Bulls took the lead four minutes into the second half as Henry lofted a free kick into the area that was headed toward the goal by Dax McCarty. Fire goalkeeper Sean Johnson deflected the ball, but New York defender Ibrahim Sekagya slotted home the rebound.
Sam Lloyd, Eric Alexander and Jonny Steele also scored for New York, who had made it to one MLS Cup Final, losing in 2008.
They`d won the Eastern Conference two other times, in 2000 and 2010, but failed to claim any silverware.
"It`s a great feeling," Henry said. "I want to dedicate the Supporters` Shield to all the fans. We know how much it means to them. They`ve been waiting a long time for this."