The New England Revolution returned home to Gillette Stadium with the hopes of snapping a four-game losing skid against the ninth place Chicago Fire. The meeting marked their second of the season.
After playing to a draw back in April, it was the Fire who won Saturday night’s tilt, 1-0.
Like their previous match against Real Salt Lake, the Revs were once again plagued by a slow start. Chicago’s veteran striker Quincy Amarikwa scored his sixth goal of the season just three minutes into the match.
The Revs have allowed six first-half goals in their last five games.
Amarikwa broke out in the open field moments later. He took the ball in on New England’s net uncontested until a net-front pass was blocked away by a Revs defender.
The Revs picked up their defensive play after goalkeeper Bobby Shuttleworth could be seen screaming at his team to wake up.
New England’s Daigo Kobayashi was given yellow card after being whistled for dive amid a drive toward the box. He would have been awarded with a free kick if the official had seen differently.
Revs coach Jay Heaps was forced to go to his bench in the 26th minute after midfielder Andy Dorman exited with a right-knee injury. Scott Caldwell replaced him.
Shortly thereafter, Diego Fegundez nearly cashed in on a giveaway to tie it for the Revs, but Fire goalkeeper Sean Johnson read his bid perfectly.
In the 35th minute, the Revs conjured up a brilliant chance. Fegundez centered a beautiful ball from the right flank. Kobayashi was able to get a foot on it as he was streaking to the front, but the ball deflected just wide of the left post.
It was a highly competitive first-half. Every inch of the pitch was fought for. New England’s back four and midfield struggled at times as Chicago had their chances. The clubs headed into the halftime break tied at one goal aside.
Coming into the evening, just five points out of the final playoff spot, the Fire were motivated to knock-off the third place Revs and gain some ground.
The Revs began the second-half struggling to orchestrate a clean breakout. It was clear they needed to make a more conscious effort to retain possession.
Chris Tierney blasted a bender on goal after a dead-ball was whistled in the 60th minute. Johnson was able to recover toward the far post, deflecting it wide with force.
Kellen Rowe then followed up with another solid Revs scoring chance though, he fired a shot high over the bar from the right side of the box.
Revs forward Jerry Bengtson was taken down in the box and a penalty shot was awarded in the 85th minute. Tierney was selected to take the shot. Johnson robbed him with a sensational diving save. It was by far the Revs best chance of the match.
In the end, it was Chicago’s outstanding goaltending that proved to be the determining factor in the match’s outcome. New England lacked urgency at times and that must be fixed moving forward.
The loss marked New England’s fifth in a row as they fell to 7-8-2 on the season.
They are now in danger of dropping out of third place spot in the standings with both Toronto and New York hot on their heels.
They’ll return to action Wednesday against the Los Angeles Galaxy.
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