The New England Revolution no doubt wish that just once they could play a match where officiating wasn't the main storyline coming out of the contest. Unfortunately, they weren't going to get their wish on Saturday night, as head refere Ismail Elfath and his linesmen conspired to unfairly take a goal away from the Revolution and hand one to the Chicago Fire in a 3-2 loss in Bridgeview. New England is officially out of a playoff spot.
The Revs got goals from Kelyn Rowe and Saer Sene, but it wasn't their goalscorers who were going to get the attention, but rather the goal that should have been, but wasn't. In the 50th minute, with the Revs up 2-1, Saer Sene appeared to be played in on goal with a wonderful slide-rule pass from midfield. Sene finshed past Johnson with aplomb, but was waved offside. Replays clearly showed that Sene was played onside by at least two Fire defenders, and while Dimitry Imbongo was offside, he was not interfering with play.
That call would haunt the Revs just five minutes later when the linesman on the other side made another poor decision that knotted the match at 2-all. Patrick Nyarko threaded a ball from the top of the box toward Juan Luis Anangono. Anangono shielded a Revolution defender off of the ball, allowing Mike Magee to slip in on the right and finish the pass. The issue with the goal was that Anangono came from an offside position to shield the ball, and while he did not touch the ball, he very obviously interfered with play. Again, head referee Ismail Elfath was let down by his assistants, and the goal stood.
Chicago capitalized on the referees' gifts in the 87th minute. Substitute Alex latched onto a poor clearance out of the Revs box, and with no pressure on him, rifled a shot past Shuttleworth and inside the post for the lead. New England was in total disarray by that point, and never looked likely to equalize.
Again, it will be the officiating that dominates the headlines. There's no way to be neutral about it; the Revs got jobbed. They should have been up 3-1 after 50 minutes, and instead they lost 3-2, when the Fire only scored two real goals on the evening.
The first goal in the match was scored by Kelyn Rowe in the 9th minute. Rowe received the ball in space at midfield, and as he has been wont to do lately, he launched a long-range effort that cleared Sean Johnson and dropped into the net. It wasn't a blast; it was more of a chip-at-pace, catching Johnson off his line, and a possible Goal of the Week candidate yet again.
However, in typical Revolution fashion, New England took their collective foot off of the gas and relaxed, which proved to be their downfall. Chicago took their just desserts in the 30th minute through Juan Luis Anangono. The big striker was threaded a ball between Jose Goncalves and Andrew Farrell. Somehow, both defenders totally underestimated Anangono's burst, and he surged between them before finishing past Bobby Shuttleworth at the far post with a strike that looked as though it should have been saved.
Chicago continued to dominate the run of play, but it was unexpectedly the Revolution who scored next. In first half stoppage time, Dimitry Imbongo latched onto a Shuttleworth goal kick and dribbled in on goal before pushing the ball left to Saer Sene. Sene took a touch and then uncorked a blast past Johnson and into the far post, giving the Revs a 2-1 lead.
With this result, New England now sits in 7th place in the East. They have a game in hand on the sixth-placed Union, who have 39 points, while Chicago sits in fifth with 39 points and on level games. Houston is in fourth with 40 points.
The Revs return to action next week on Saturday night at home against D.C. United.