FOXBOROUGH, Mass. -- Soccer can be the cruelest of games, and for evidence of that, look no further than Saturday's match between the Revolution and Fire.
In match dominated by the hosts, who put together nearly 500 passes, fired 23 shots and gathered 62.5 percent of the possession, the only number that mattered was the one posted on the scoreboard, which favored the opportunistic Fire 1-0 when the final whistle sounded.
"It's really frustrating," Revolution right back Andrew Farrell said. "You think you have the momentum and the flow of the game, and you think you're going to get something."
All signs seemed to point the Revolution getting something -- anything -- from Saturday's conference clash. An argument could be made that they deserved three points, but given the four-game losing streak the Revolution were tethered to entering the match, a single point would've sufficed.
But what prevented the Revolution from collecting points for the fifth straight game is purely attributable to an ongoing problem. Namely, another poor start.
Less than three minutes into the match, Jeff Larentowicz regained possession for the Fire in the midfield, and played it forward to Mike Magee. The Fire forward dribbled ahead before releasing Quincy Amarikwa in the box, where he fought off Farrell and chipped it through to put the Revolution into another early deficit.
"The backline and the team as a whole have been giving up some sloppy goals and that just puts us behind," Farrell said. "Once you make a mental mistake like that, (it) puts the whole team behind, and I'll take the blame for that."
Farrell may have stepped up to take responsibility for Amarikwa's goal, but he and his teammates didn't let their misfortune get in the way of recommitting themselves to the attack.
Even without leading scorer Lee Nguyen, who was suspended for Saturday's game, the Revolution uncovered plenty of chances -- chances that showcased the Revolution's firepower even without Nguyen.
In the 35th minute, Diego Fagundez played a cross intended for Teal Bunbury at the near post. But even though Bunbury couldn't reach it, the ball fell to the far post, where Daigo Kobayashi poked it just wide.
The second half saw the Revolution uncover more chances to put the match on level terms. Kelyn Rowe sent a corner kick near post for Patrick Mullins, who sent his header just over the bar. Not long after, Chris Tierney stepped up and sent a free kick from 20 yards that Sean Johnson left his feet to deny in the 65th minute.
Undaunted, the Revolution continued to improve their chances as the game progressed. The addition of substitutes Jerry Bengtson and Steve Neumann bolstered the attack, as the Fire did all they could to hang on for dear life.
"I thought we definitely had more chances, so it was a little bit of a change to a 3-5-2 (formation)," Revolution coach Jay Heaps said. "It helped out our attack and it would've been nice to punch one in there."
Late in the match, it appeared the Revolution were about to do just that. Bengtson chased down a long pass from Tierney into the box, and was felled by defender Gonzalo Segares. A penalty was awarded and, at last, it appeared that the Revolution would get the goal that eluded them all night.
"I thought it was well-deserved," Heaps said. "I thought it was earned and we were trying and we were doing everything we could."
Tierney uncorked a powerful shot from the spot toward the left post that was ticketed for the back of the net. But Sean Johnson made an acrobatic save to deny it, then quickly grabbed the rebound right off the line to seal the Revolution's fate, as cruel as it was.
But even though the Revolution ended up on the wrong side of the scoreboard for the fifth straight game, Heaps credited his players' efforts, which nearly led them to their first point since May.
"No one gave up and that's for darn sure," Heaps said. "To earn a penalty kick in the 86th minute with a team that's bunkered in, it's not easy. You're trying to probe and pick teams apart, and it's unfortunate."