HARRISON, N.J. -- Sherjill MacDonald scored two second-half goals, lifting the Chicago Fire to a crucial 2-0 win over the New York Red Bulls on Saturday.
The Fire (17-10-5) jumped three points ahead of the Red Bulls (15-9-8) in the Eastern Conference, with two games remaining, and moved closer to earning a spot in the MLS Cup playoffs. Chicago can get in if Columbus loses to Sporting Kansas City on Sunday.
New York dropped to 11-2-3 at home.
MacDonald broke a scoreless tie in the 65th minute by getting past two Red Bulls defenders off a fine lead pass from Chris Rolfe, then hitting a shot past goalkeeper Luis Robles.
MacDonald, who had only two goals this season before Saturday, made it 2-0 in the 79th minute, taking a pass from Daniel Paladini and sprinting past two defenders to touch it gently past Robles.
The Red Bulls had controlled much of the action in the first half, but had nothing to show for it. Sean Johnson made only one save to secure his fifth shutout of the season.
In the 27th minute, Red Bulls captain Thierry Henry had a wide-open shot, but it was knocked aside by a sliding stop with the left leg by Arne Friedrich. Six minutes later, Dax McCarty's left-footed drive from 25 yards sailed wide right.
The Fire responded late in the first half, when Alvaro Fernandez rose high above the Red Bulls defense to get his head on a cross from Jalil Anibaba, but Fernandez' attempt sailed over the crossbar.
The Red Bulls had two excellent chances in the 57th minute. Thierry Henry fired a shot from point blank range that sailed wide left, and then he sent a corner kick to the box that went directly to Tim Cahill. But the Aussie, who has had trouble scoring since joining the MLS two months ago, put a header that Johnson caught.
Cahill was visibly upset, standing with his hands over his face after the save.