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Revolution Burned in Chicago

Posted on 18 August 2010 by sstoehrst

New England’s historic run of results ground to a screeching halt in Bridgeview this evening as they fell to their bitter rivals the Chicago Fire 2-1. Marko Perovic opened the scoring early with an opportunistic goal but Chicago hit back through Baggio Husidic in the first half and sealed up the result in the final minutes via Calen Carr, who made his first appearance of 2010.

The match wasn’t one for the purists as it was marred by rough tackles, sloppy defending, play-acting and very questionable officiating in front of a good home crowd for a Wednesday. Yellow seemed to be the color of the day with seven total cautions shown, but the game certainly never lacked excitement.

The Revs took the early initiative through Perovic, who unleashed a knuckling drive from forty yards that nearly snuck under the crossbar and had to be tipped away by rookie Fire ‘keeper Sean Johnson. Just minutes later in the 14th Pat Phelan collected the first yellow card through a rough tackle on Logan Pause (mlssoccer.com is reporting the reasoning as dissent, but there didn’t seem to be any).

Despite that, New England drew first blood moments after in the 16th minute. Marko Perovic pressured Wilman Conde outside the 18, and the normally composed defender took a heavy touch and then slipped, allowing the Serbian maestro to round Johnson and execute a clinical finish from a tight angle and hand the Revolution the lead. The goal was Perovic’s fifth in MLS, tying him with Zack Schilawski as the Revs’ leading league goalscorer.

The visitors then weathered an extended period for pressure from the home side that resulted in no clear chances. In the 25th minute Perovic nearly tricked Johnson into conceding again when his long free kick eluded all heads in the box but took a wicked bounce, causing the young stopper to fumble the ball slightly. Just a minute later Cory Gibbs was shown a yellow card for persistent fouling after tripping Marco Pappa.

The home side would have their equalizer in the 32nd minute after a turn of bad luck for the Revolution. An errant shot from Brian McBride at the top of the box deflected right to Baggio Husidic, who then converted a simple finish past Reis to even the scores.

Referee Michael Kennedy did little to endear himself into the hearts of Revolution fans or even MLS neutrals with his performance tonight, and the first major controversy came in the 38th minute. Matt Reis was just sending a goal kick forward and long before the ball reached the forward line, Fire Designated Player Nery Castillo caught Kevin Alston below the eye with a blatant elbow off the ball. The Mexican international likely deserved a red card but escaped with just a yellow, and from there the officiating crew seemed to lose control of proceedings.

A minute later Wilman Conde was shown a card for a late and reckless challenge on Pat Phelan that saw the gritty midfielder on the sidelines for treatment, though it seemed obvious there was no intent on the part of the defender and the call was fair. Another very physical but unintentional challenge resulted in a yellow just minutes after that when Marko Perovic caught defender CJ Brown with a boot in the face. The half ended with the scores tied at 1.

The Fire opened the second half with the ineffective (and violent) Nery Castillo on the bench, replacing him with Mike Banner. The Fire and the Revs traded long shots, with Segares firing over from 22 yards in the 47th and Joseph stinging Johnson’s palms from 30 yards about four minutes later after a good setup from Ilija Stolica.

Emmanuel Osei, who was back to his adventurous ways for most of the match and was not at his best, became the fourth Rev to enter the book a minute after Joseph’s shot when he crunched Brian McBride from behind in midfield. Mike Banner had a low shot saved by Reis in the 63rd, and the Revs responded almost immediately with clever overlapping play from Alston and Stolica, but the veteran striker’s hard shot flashed just wide of the near post with Johnson at full extension.

As Steve Nicol prepared a double switch in the 67th minute Cory Gibbs went down clutching his heel, forcing Nicol to burn all three subs at once. Khano Smith, Jason Griffiths, and Seth Sinovic replaced Chris Tierney, Pat Phelan, and Gibbs and put the Revs in a precarious position with over twenty minutes remaining in the match. Before play restarted, Calen Carr replaced McBride for the Fire.

The Revolution then enjoyed some superiority due to clever wing play from Sainey Nyassi and a bit of good work and trickery by Khano Smith. Unfortunately, all they were able to muster in terms of real threats during a good ten-minute stretch was a Shalrie Joseph header wide from a corner.

Revs fans then had to hold their collective breaths as shades of 2008 threatened to haunt them again. Marko Perovic took a rough shot straight to the head while challenging Sean Johnson to an aerial ball, catching the big goalkeeper’s elbow right in the side of the skull. The sequence was chillingly similar to the play that eventually cost Taylor Twellman the past two seasons of his career. Perovic was alert and moving, however, and didn’t leave the game.

He may have wished he did. Just two minutes later Calen Carr cut inside the 18-yard box and sent a low near-post shot through Emmanuel Osei’s legs, eluding a shielded Matt Reis and scoring what would be the game-winning goal.

The match turned ugly after the goal. In the 90th minute the Revolution had a very legitimate shout for a penalty, or at least a direct free kick on the edge of the box, when a streaking Marko Perovic was clipped and dropped on a free run at goal. Michael Kennedy waved play on and gave the corner, but it looked to be the wrong call.

To add insult to injury, Kennedy showed his seventh and final card to a Revolution player deep into stoppage time, making it the fifth caution given to the visitors. Darrius Barnes and Freddie Ljungberg were jawing and shoving behind the play for a few minutes before grappling while chasing a loose ball down the touchline. Both had handfuls of shirts and both went down, but rather than show a card to each man Kennedy gave Freddie Ljungberg a free ride and cautioned Barnes. It would be the last meaningful event of the match.

After the final whistle, the Revolution players and coaches surrounded and berated the officiating staff, with Perovic, Joseph, and Barnes looking especially irate. Even Fire fans likely can’t blame them. In a final indictment of Kennedy and his crew’s performance, the Revs were called for a whopping eighteen fouls, while the Fire were whistled for only three, including none in the second half.

Lineups:

Revolution (4-4-2): Reis; Alston, Osei, Barnes, Gibbs (Sinovic 69); Nyassi, Phelan (Griffiths 69), Joseph, Tierney (Smith 69); Perovic, Stolica

Fire (4-4-2): Johnson; Robinson, Brown, Conde, Segares; Pappa (Watson-Sirobe 89), Pause, Husidic, Castillo (Banner 46); Ljungberg, Mcbride (Carr 69)

Attendance: 14,056

Referee: Michael Kennedy
Assistants: Chris Strickland, Paul Scott
4th Official: Abiodun Okulaja

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