With six games left in the regular season, and the New England Revolution facing another team below the red line, dropping points in a 2-2 tie at home to the Chicago Fire might have sealed the Revs playoff fate.
New England staged two comebacks in the second half, with Scott Caldwell and Cristian Penilla cancelling out Aleksander Katai first half opener and Michael Mancienne’s second half own goal.
The first half started out fairly dull for both teams, however the Revs did dominate possession despite having little in the way of shots to show for it. It was the Fire who opened the scoring however, when in the 19th minute Brandon Bye intercepted a cross intended for Katai only to have the Fire striker steal the ball off his foot. Katai weaved his way into the box and fired past Knighton into the far post netting to give Chicago an early 1-0 lead.
At halftime, Brad Friedel introduced two subs in Juan Agudelo and debutant Guillermo Hauche, replacing Diego Fagundez and Bye as well as forcing Kelyn Rowe to left back with Bye on a yellow card. Whether it was the subs, a bit of desperation, or some combination of the two, Penilla was a man possessed in the second frame and got the Revs started with a ball out to Andrew Farrell in the 62nd minute. Farrell’s shot from the right side of the box was deflected, and a fingertip save from Fire keeper Richard Sanchez only left the ball on the doorstep for Caldwell to tap home the equalizer.
The level score was short lived however, as five minutes later centerback Mancienne turned a cross awkwardly into his own net trying to clear a centering pass. While the own goal was unfortunate, Mancienne likely prevented Fire attacking mid Djordje Mihailovic from getting the go-ahead goal on the back post.
However, in the 70th minute it was Penilla to the rescue again, when the Revs broke out on the counter and was played in 1-on-1 thanks to a lovely through ball from Agudelo. Penilla however was slowed up by Sanchez, and had to perform an elusive spin-o-rama to separate from the keeper before slotting home with a nutmeg finish against a sprawling Fire defender. Penilla and the Revs were able to complete the comeback but not find a go-ahead goal as the match finished at 2-2.
New England finished the match with a 66-34% edge in possession, including a nearly 75-25% clip in the first half. Despite this advantage and an 18-8 edge in total shots, it was the Fire that had more shots on goal, 5-4. As has become standard, the Revs four yellow cards and 17 fouls. The Revs as a team completed 78% of their over 500 passes, with only attackers Hauche at 50% and Teal Bunbury at 53% completion bringing down the average.
With the Montreal Impact also drawing tonight, the Revs remain in 8th place and five points below the red line with a game in hand on IMFC. DC United in 7th however is level on points with the Revs and have more wins as well as a game in hand.
New England’s next match is next Saturday, September 29th at 730pm at Toronto FC.