The New England Revolution could not overcome a poor first-half performance as they fell 3-2 to the Chicago Fire in Bridgeview, Illinois this afternoon. The match was not lacking for excitement as the Fire jumped out to a 3-0 first-half lead via a penalty and two fast-break goals, but the Revs nearly stole a point at the end thanks to two quick-fire goals in the final five minutes.
Chicago scored all three goals in the first half hour, with Sebastian Grazzini scoring a penalty and the blistering speed of Dominic Oduro and Patrick Nyarko wreaking havoc on the New England back line and earning both players a goal. Ryan Guy never said die, however, and scored his first two goals of his MLS career in the dying moments of a game that truly never looked as close as the scoreline reflected at its conclusion.
The opening stanza belonged completely the home side, practically from word go. In the fourth minute, Patrick Nyarko was played in behind a high line of defense and charged into the box all alone. He attempted to cut across Matt Reis, who dove for the ball. Nyarko's pace proved to be too much, though, and Reis caught the player instead, conceding a penalty. Sebastian Grazzini stepped up and buried the spot-kick, putting Chicago up a goal very early.
It took just five minutes for the Fire to score again, and in similar fashion. An incisive ball from midfield sprung Dominic Oduro behind the defense. This time, Reis came out of the box for the ball, but whiffed on his sliding challenge and Oduro was left to slot the ball easily into an open net.
New England didn't really start getting into the match until the 12th minute, when Benny Feilhaber had a close-range free kick blocked by the wall. On the ensuing corner, Chris Tierney's delivery found Milton Caraglio all alone at the far post, but although he kept his header down, it was wide of the woodwork.
Tierney then nearly scored a goal of the season candidate in the 25th minute. He delivered a free kick from near the center line that looked like it was a far-post cross. Instead, though, he put considerable pace on it and it bent toward goal, with Sean Johnson caught off his line. The young keeper had to backpedal and jump at full stretch to tip the ball over.
Just a minute later, a Tierney cross fell into a scrum in the box. It was cleared by Chicago, but only as far as Kevin Alston about 28 yards out. The right back struck it on the half-volley but it blazed over the crossbar. In the 27th minute, Zack Schilawski found a fortunate bounce that played him to the edge of the Chicago area, but his low shot was a bit too tame and Johnson smothered it.
The Fire then went straight back to work, and they did it the same way they had been before. Oduro played a diagonal ball to Nyarko who used his pace to streak toward the box. Reis came out to challenge but hesitated, and although he managed to get a foot in, an unfortunate bounce put it past him with Nyarko chasing. From there, the Fire forward simply needed to slip it over the line and it was 3-0 after 30 minutes.
Kenny Mansally wasted a gilt-edged scoring opportunity in the 37th minute. A free kick from Tierney that came from a near-corner position was flicked on by Schilawski at the near post. It bounced and reached Mansally at the far post quickly, but the Gambian appeared surprised by the ball and could only knock it high and behind with his head.
Two minutes later, Milton Caraglio nearly scored with a blistering 25-yard drive that skimmed the crossbar. In the 40th, the Revs had the last chance of the half when a corner reached the head of Shalrie Joseph, but the captain headed over.
The Fire nearly started the second half the same way they began the first when Nyarko slipped in behind the defense yet again. Paced by Barnes, he pulled up and then played a diagonal pass to Oduro, who was all alone and tried to chip Reis but the keeper was equal to it and batted it away. Two minutes later in the 59th minute, the Revs nearly had a response when Shalrie played Ryan Guy all alone down the right flank, and the former St. Pat's Athletic star tried a half-volleyed chip to the far post top corner, catching Sean Johnson off his line but bouncing off the crossbar.
New England nearly scored again when substitute Kheli Dube played in a nice cross from the left side that was met by the head of an unmarked Shalrie Joseph at the near post. Unfortunately for the Revs, Gonzalo Segares made an excellent last-ditch effort and got his head in the way of the ball before it reached the goal line, deflecting it over. The 65th minute saw Nyarko and Oduro open up the Revolution defense yet again, but this time Nyarko pushes his shot wide when he probably should have laid it off to Oduro.
A 68th minute cross from deep on the left flank found the head of Baggio Husidic with everyone else asleep, but his free header was straight at Reis and handled easily. Then, in the 71st minute, Chris Tierney drilled in a low free kick that took a deflection on the way in and looked nasty, but Johnson was down to his right in a flash and had it covered.
The 75th minute saw the Revs continue to knock on the door as the situation became more desperate. Kevin Alston dribbled around three Fire defenders before cutting into the box to his left and trying a far-post shot with his weaker foot that Johnson parried away. Moments later, Joseph played Feilhaber in on the right side and he had a similar effort saved, except it was at the near post.
In the 86th, Kheli Dube played in fellow substitute Diego Fagundez with a diagonal ball on the right side, and the 16-year old phenom tried his luck from a tough angle and had it saved easily. He had several options in the middle, leading to frustration from his teammates.
New England continued to ratchet up the pressure with a ridiculous sequence in the 87th minute. Fagundez collected it on the right again, but this time played a cross to Caraglio in the middle of the area. The big Argentine striker knocked it down and then tried an overhead kick of sorts that was scuffed toward Fagundez. The youngster was essentially run over by Johnson in pursuit of the ball, but his obstruction prevented the keeper from getting to it and Feilhaber ran onto the ball at the byline. He crossed, finding Dube at the far post who tried to play it back in but had it deflected away. The ball was then played back in from the left, and eluded both Fagundez and Caraglio before hitting Joseph and then being gobbled up by Johnson.
Things finally got real interesting in the final five minutes or so. Kevin Alston lofted a long ball into the box in the 89th minute that both Caraglio and Johnson went up for. They ended up knocking each other over, and the rebound bounced to Ryan Guy. He cut underneath it with a half-volley, watching it sail high in the air before coming down just underneath the crossbar for his first MLS goal.
Guy wasn't finished. Just minutes later, in stoppage time, Dube whipped in a throw-in from the left side that found its way to Fagundez. The academy product used a slick back-heel flick to play Caraglio, who then skipped along the edge of the area before playing a lateral ball to Ryan Guy, all alone on the right side. From there, it was a simple matter of side-footing it inside the right post before Guy wrapped up his brace and made it look like the Revs might actually steal a point in this match. It wasn't to be, however, and the Fire escaped the dying moments with a well-earned 3-2 victory.