Tim Cahill did his best to repay the New York Red Bulls for releasing him early for the Socceroos’ World Cup campaign as he scored with a trademark header.
Veteran striker Cahill’s bagged his first goal of the MLS season following an injury-delayed start, getting his team level at 1-1.
But he couldn’t prevent them losing 5-4 to the Chicago Fire in a rollicking home game featuring two hat-tricks.
It’s expected to be Cahill’s last game for the Red Bulls for quite some time.
Red Bulls coach Mike Petke told reporters on Friday that he would release Cahill and Costa Rica’s Roy Miller after the game to help their World Cup ambitions even though he could retain them for another week.
Cahill is a certainty to be named in coach Ange Postecoglou’s initial World Cup squad on Wednesday and he made it clear beforehand he intended to sign off in style as the Red Bulls attempted to extend their unbeaten run to five straight games.
“I want to go out on a high,” said Cahill. “I think we’ve been fantastic over the last month.
“We’re sitting in a great position, but also here is a massive priority for me.
“One of the biggest decisions of my career was to move to the Red Bulls and MLS to prolong my career as an international playing for the Socceroos.
“We qualified for a World Cup, and now I’m potentially in (the) selection (frame) to go to my third World Cup of my generation.
“You want to leave on a good note.
“This team is good enough to do some great things with or without me. We’ve shown that in the past weeks.”
Cahill’s red-hot teammate Bradley Wright-Phillips kept his club in the game with his second hat-trick of the season, only to be matched by rookie Harry Shipp for winners Chicago.
It was the first time in MLS history that two players recorded a hat trick in the same game.
The win was Chicago’s first of the season and improved them to 1-2-6. New York, meanwhile, fell to 3-3-5.