FIRE 1 – REVOLUTION 1

Posted on 19 June 2011 by Matty Jollie

In another wildly entertaining affair, the New England Revolution (3-7-6, 15pts) drew 1-1 with Eastern Conference rival Chicago Fire (2-4-9, 15pts), through an early second half goal from striker Rajko Lekic.  The draw gave New England 2 points from their brief two game homestand, keeping them tied with Chicago for sixth place in the Eastern Conference.

New England had only two changes to the starting lineup that faced Toronto on Wednesday night, as Franco Coria slipped in at center-back for Ryan Cochrane, and Revs’ veteran Sainey Nyassi took over at right midfield for the injured Zak Boggs, who sustained a right MCL strain in the match against Toronto.

The match kicked off under clear skies and in front of a spirited crowd of over 14,000, and almost right from the beginning this contest was spirited, wide open, and easy to watch. Both sides created early chances, with the first true chance falling to Sainey Nyassi in the 10th minute, when Pat Phelan’s long ball found him in space down the right side (a sight that was seen plenty of times on the night), giving Nyassi the chance to fire on net, but his low-driven effort was smothered by Fire goalkeeper Sean Johnson at the near post.

After a few more jabs and counters, it was the Fire’s turn to ask questions of the Revolution goal, when striker Christian Nazarit had only the post better him in the 16th minute. Nazarit found the smallest pocket of space in the Revolution box, out-foxed Franco Coria, and fired a toe-poke effort that beat keeper Matt Reis, but shot off the crossbar and out for a goal kick, keeping the match level.

The next fifteen minutes were owned by New England, who saw chances from Rajko Lekic, Sainey Nyassi and Pat Phelan all denied, and the constant pressure on the Chicago Fire goal continued in the 28th minute when Darrius Barnes found Kevin Alston again through a long ball down the right flank, who then carved into the box and found Lekic, whose left-footed volley was well struck but also well saved by Johnson.

Chicago turned the match on its head in the 31st minute when they finally managed to beat Matt Reis and take the lead through Dominic Oduro.  The goal was completely against the run of play, and came off of a well-executed counter-attack after a Revs’ set piece.  After clearing the Revs’ set piece effort, Patrick Nyarko tore through the midfield and found Oduro, whose speed was enough to get him past Darrius Barnes and into enough open space to calmly slot home the opening goal. Oduro gave all the credit to his teammate, saying “I think it was a breakaway from Patrick’s (Nyarko) end. Again, we’ve been working on this transition. He saw me make a run, through ball, took the guy on the run, I saw an opening and I just put the ball right there.”

New England regained their composure after giving up the opener, and almost found the equalizer in the 39th minute, when again it was Nyassi finding space down the same right flank, cutting in and firing a well weighted cross that found the head of Kenny Mansally, but the Gambian’s headed effort from less than a few yards out was too tall and sailed over the crossbar.

The match headed to the halftime locker room with Chicago still leading 1-0, but it was New England with all of the momentum as they continued to pressure and create chances up until match referee Silviu Petrescu blew the whistle for halftime.

The second half began with no changes for either side, and again it was New England on the front foot, going forward aggressively and giving themselves multiple opportunities to equalize, and almost immediately after the second half restart, the hard work finally paid off.

New England earned a free kick in a dangerous area in the 48th minute, and after the original effort from Pat Phelan was blocked, the ball squibbed through to Rajko Lekic, who was able to beat a belated offside trap from the Fire back line, and the Revolution striker ever-so-smoothly finished past a diving Sean Johnson, and the match was once again level.

It was Lekic’ first goal since April 23rd against Sporting Kansas City, and the Danish league star was more than pleased to finally get back on the scoresheet.  It was a bit of a disjointed sequence of play, as Lekic alluded to, “I saw that Pat (Phelan) was going to shoot. I was thinking if he missed the ball, I was all alone and I can get the ball in a free position and then make the goal hopefully. And that happened. So I made the goal like that.”

The tying goal from New England ignited the style of the match, and it was the Revs taking the initiative several times down the same right flank through Nyassi, who had chances denied in the 54th and 60th minute. As the match wore on, it continued to feel like there was one goal left out there, and it almost came in the 69th minute in a strange sequence of play.

New England broke through the Fire midfield and the ball came to Lekic, who managed to find space at the top of the box but was taken down by Gonzalo Segares.  Shalrie Joseph then immediately took the free kick on a quick restart, and found Kenny Mansally inside the box, who blasted over the Fire goal and into the crowd.  Head Coach Steve Nicol didn’t seem surprised by the quick restart from Joseph in such a dangerous area, “I have no problem with (Shalrie Joseph’s quick restart) whatsoever. It’s a great ball, he’s put Kenny (Mansally) clean through with a goalkeeper to beat. I mean, what more do you want?”

Both sides made their substitutions in the latter stages of the second half, and a switch made by New England in the 72nd minute stood out almost immediately, when Ryan Guy, recently signed from Ireland and making his MLS debut, made a huge headed clearance off the goal line, denying Chicago the go ahead goal. Steve Nicol commented  on the new arrival’s debut, “I think (Ryan Guy) did great when he came in. That sticks out. He was alert on the goal line – that’s why he’s there, but you still have to make the header (save), which was obviously great. And he looked dangerous and decent on the ball going forward.”

As the match wound down it was evident that New England were on their last legs (the Revs were coming off only 3 days rest after their draw with Toronto FC on Wednesday night) and Chicago began taking advantage, but Matt Reis was equal to the task on several occasions.  Steve Nicol inserted Zack Schilawski into the match in the 81st minute for Kenny Mansally, trying to inject some life into the attack and take some pressure off of the tired legs at the back.

Man of the Match, Matt Reis, saved the point for New England in the 88th minute, when he denied second half substitute Gabriel Ferrari’s rocketed shot, making a huge diving save to his left and parrying the ball away, keeping the match level.

The final whistle blew after five minutes of stoppage time, although not long before Rajko Lekic nearly won it at the end, when the striker found the smallest amount of space at the left side of he box, jostled himself free and played the ball up to his left foot and volleyed hard to the far post beating the Fire keeper but sailing just wide.

Although the draw was certainly not the result New England was hoping for, Revolution defender A.J. Soares was pleased with the effort from his teammates, “we worked hard, we created chances, and when you play like that, you’re going to win a lot of games.” It was clear from the start the effort was there from Steve Nicol’s men, who was pleased with the effort and stated it was just the little things that weren’t falling their way, saying “(We’re missing) a wee bit of something – a wee bit of composure, a wee bit of quality. We’re not kicking the backside off it, but there’s a fine line between picking up maximum points and not.”

After this brief two game homestand New England now heads off on the road to face both an imposing foe and a great atmosphere when they take on the Seattle Sounders next Sunday afternoon at Qwest Field, kickoff is set for 4 p.m. EST.

 

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New England Revolution vs. Chicago Fire

June 18, 2011 – Gillette Stadium (Foxborough, Mass.)

 

New England Revolution 1, Chicago Fire 1

 

Scoring Summary:

CHI – Dominic Oduro (Patrick Nyarko) 32

NE – Rajko Lekic (Pat Phelan) 48

 

New England Revolution: Matt Reis, Darrius Barnes, A.J. Soares, Franco Coria, Kevin Alston, Chris Tierney (Ryan Guy 71), Pat Phelan, Shalrie Joseph ©, Sainey Nyassi, Kenny Mansally (Zack Schilawski 81), Rajko Lekic

 

Substitutes Not Used: Bobby Shuttleworth, Otto Loewy, Andrew Sousa, Stephen McCarthy, Ryan Kinne

 

STATS*: Shots: 19; Shots on Goal: 8; Saves: 5; Corner Kicks: 8; Offside: 3; Fouls Committed: 12

 

Chicago Fire: Sean Johnson, Gonzalo Segares, Cory Gibbs, Yamith Cuesta, Jalil Anibaba, Patrick Nyarko, Logan Pause ©, Baggio Husidic (Daniel Paladini 74), Dominic Oduro, Cristian Nazarit, Diego Chaves (Orr Barouch 63)

 

Substitutes Not Used: Jon Conway, Corben Bone, Dasan Robinson, Bratislav Ristic, Gabriel Ferrari

 

STATS*: Shots: 13; Shots on Goal: 7; Saves: 6; Corner Kicks: 9; Offside: 3; Fouls Committed: 16

 

* Note that all statistics are unofficial

 

Misconduct Summary:

CHI – Cristian Nazarit (caution) 59

CHI – Gonzalo Segares (caution) 66

CHI – Dominic Oduro (caution) 77

NE – Shalrie Joseph (caution) 78

CHI – Daniel Paladini (caution) 90

 

 

Referee: Silviu Petrescu

Assistant Referees: Daniel Belleau, Eric Proctor

Fourth Official: Drew Fischer
Weather: Partly cloudy, 78 degrees

Attendance: 14,246

 

Records:

New England: 3-7-6, 15 pts.

Chicago: 2-4-9, 15 pts.

 

NOTES

 

With the draw, the Revs moved to a 13-17-9 overall record against the Chicago Fire

The Revs remain winless against the Fire in regular-season matches in their last nine meetings, with New England’s last in-season win coming May 6, 2007 at Gillette Stadium (3-1)

The teams will close out their two-game season series on Sunday, Sept. 25, at Toyota Park

The draw extended the Revs’ unbeaten streak to two games, marking the team’s first consecutive results since a scoreless draw on Saturday, May 7, followed by a win on Saturday, May 14

The Revs’ 11 first-half shots were more than or equal to the team’s full-game totals in 13 of the previous 15 matches entering this game

Tonight marked Matt Reis’ 200th start as a member of the Revolution … Reis ranks third in games started, behind only Jay Heaps (238) and Shalrie Joseph (221 and counting)

Ryan Guy made his first appearance for the Revolution tonight, entering the game as a substitute in the 71st minute

Rajko Lekic scored his second goal of the season in the 48th minute … his first came on April 23 in the Revs’ 3-2 win against Sporting Kansas City … Lekic is now the second player – along with Shalrie Joseph – to have scored multiple goals during the 2011 season

Pat Phelan earned his second assist of the season on Lekic’s goal, a career high for the fourth-year pro

Both Ryan Cochrane and Zak Boggs missed tonight’s game because of injury, Cochrane with a left hamstring strain and Boggs with a right MCL sprain

 

 

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