for this game

Red Bulls beat Fire 1-0 in 1st MLS game at stadium

Mar 28, 2010 - 2:13 AM By RONALD BLUM AP Sports Writer

HARRISON, N.J.(AP) -- New stadium, new attitude, new result for the New York Red Bulls.

Estonian midfielder Joel Lindpere scored on a sparkling 19-yard shot in the 40th minute of his Major League Soccer debut, and New York opened the season by beating the Chicago Fire 1-0 Saturday night in the first official match at $200 million Red Bull Arena.

"I thought Seattle last year was unbelievable. Toronto is always unbelievable. This brings it to a new level with the noise that's generated underneath the roof and echoing," Red Bulls defender Mike Petke said. "It's the way a sporting event should be."

It was 39 degrees at gametime, 34 degrees cooler than the previous Saturday when the stadium opened with a 3-1 exhibition win over Brazil's Santos. Perhaps that's why there were pockets of empty blue seats at the 25,000-seat, two-deck stadium, where attendance was announced at 24,572.

There were few good chances before the goal by Lindpere, a 28-year-old signed last month on a free transfer Tromso in the Norwegian Arctic.

"It was my weather. I hope it stays like this," Lindpere said before quickly adding - "just kidding."

New York goalkeeper Bouna Coundoul made a leaping save to deny Mike Banner on a free kick from just behind the arc in the 61st minute, then stopped Baggio Husidic on the rebound. He made an easy stop on Patrick Nyarko's 10-yard header in the 79th.

Former U.S. national team star Brian McBride nearly put Chicago ahead in the 23rd minute with an 18-yard bicycle kick that went on a hop off the post to Coundoul's right. Chicago outshot New York 17-11, including 13-5 in the second half.

"I think we caused a few more problems. Unfortunately, we didn't get that first goal," McBride said. "Defensively, I thought we were very solid. We still created a few opportunities, and I'm sure we can create more."

Lindpere, who has five goals in 74 appearances for Estonia, scored after he brought the ball downfield and played it to Danleigh Borman on the left. Borman's cross was chested out by a defender to Lindpere, and the left-footed player sent a right-footed shot over rookie goalkeeper Andrew Dykstra, who leaped and may have gotten a fingertip on it.

"I hadn't thought he had a right foot," Red Bulls coach Hans Backe said.

Lindpere agreed.

"I don't have," he said. "It's for walking."

The game marked the MLS debuts of both coaches: former Notts County manager Backe for the Red Bulls and former El Salvador coach Carlos del los Cobos for the Fire.

The 24-year-old Dykstra got his first MLS start after the Fire released Jon Busch, who had played every league match the previous two years. The Fire was playing its first official match since Cuauhtemoc Blanco left after three seasons for Mexico's Veracruz.

Forward Collins John, signed to pair at forward with former Fulham teammate McBride, entered in the 54th minute for Salvadoran midfielder Julio Martinez, who also made his Fire debut. McBride said it felt a little like a Craven Cottage reunion.

"We didn't have a lot of time to play together, but he put himself in some spots where I could find him," McBride said. "It's great to know that I have that option."

After a 5-0-6 MLS start last year, Chicago finished the regular season at 11-7-12 and lost the Eastern Conference final to Real Salt Lake on penalty kicks after 0-0 tie.

Star forward Juan Pablo Angel returned from a knee injury to start for the Red Bulls, a league-worst 5-19-6 last year but buoyed by the stadium and a 7-0-3 preseason record. New York improved to 4-0-3 in its last seven home openers and made MLS home teams 4-1-3 in the first games of soccer-specific stadiums, with Kansas City winning 1-0 at Toronto's BMO Field in 2007. The Red Bulls ended a five-game losing streak against Chicago.

Lindpere thus far appears to give the Red Bulls a complement to Angel.

"I'm a little bit surprised that no other teams in Europe picked him up when he was out of contract," Backe said.

Lindpere was looking to find a good club.

"Maybe I was a little bit unlucky," he said, "but I took a chance and now I'm happy that I'm here. You never know what happens one day again."