Lone defensive mistake costs Fire in draw

June, 18, 2011
6/18/11
9:43
PM CT
The Chicago Fire defense has been in top form under interim head coach Frank Klopas, posting three straight shutouts under his tenure.

But one slightly delayed push by the defensive back line allowed the New England Revolution a game-tying goal, as Chicago played to a 1-1 draw on Saturday at Gillette Stadium in Foxborough, Mass.

The Fire's Dominic Oduro tallied Chicago's lone goal in the 32nd minute for a 1-0 lead. But early in the second half, Revs forward Rajko Lekic leveled the match at 1-1.

Chicago's defensive back line attempted to put Lekic in an offside position, but veteran defenders Cory Gibbs and Gonzalo Segares were a shade late in stepping up -- replays showed that Lekic stayed onside. New England's Pat Phelan had the service to Lekic, and Lekic placed his shot inside the right post to tie the score.

Dominic Oduro
Stew Milne/US PresswireFire forward Dominic Oduro battles Revolution defender Darrius Barnes for possession during the first half on Saturday.

It was the only major mistake from Chicago (2-4-9), which had the lead and was in position to record a second straight win against an Eastern Conference foe.

"We're definitely frustrated because we managed the game well," Segares said. "We had plenty of chances, and I think that's what makes this hurt a little bit more."

Oduro got the Fire on the board first, and the buildup of his tally was smooth. Patrick Nyarko settled the ball on the left flank and passed it to his fellow Ghanaian teammate on the right flank. Oduro utilized his speed one-on-one against Revs defender Darrius Barnes, then tucked his low shot into the left side of the net past New England goalkeeper Matt Reis.

Reis and Fire goalkeeper Sean Johnson both posted strong matches. Reis posted a game-high six saves for the Revs (3-6-5) and Johnson had five saves on the night.

Klopas clearly went for the victory with his young second-half substitutions. The 19-year-old Orr Barouch replaced Diego Chaves, and Barouch nearly came through with a go-ahead tally in the 73rd. But Barouch's header off of Baggio Husidic's corner kick was saved at the goal line by New England's Ryan Guy.

Gabriel Ferrari made his Fire debut, and the 22-year-old had one strong scoring chance in the closing minutes. In the 87th minute, Ferrari pushed up the right side and took a shot at the goal, forcing Reis to make a foot save to preserve the draw.

In the first half, the match featured back-and-forth, open play from both sides.

For the Fire, defender Jalil Anibaba took a shot from distance in the fourth minute that forced Reis to deflect it over the crossbar. Fire forward Cristian Nazarit also had a strong chance in the 16th minute when he hit the frame after faking out New England's Franco Coria to create space for the attempt toward the right.

New England had the more active first half, forcing Johnson to make four of his five saves in the first 45 minutes. Lekic had a couple of scoring chances in the 21st and 28th minutes, but Johnson saved both attempts. Kenny Mansally had a high-percentage attempt in the 38th minute, after Sainey Nyassi set him up perfectly from the right side. But Mansally's header went over the crossbar.

Analysis: A road point is better than nothing, but certainly Chicago has to be perturbed that it allowed a first-half lead to slip away. The worst part was that it was the timing of one play that proved to be a deciding factor.

But that also points to the fact that the Fire had other chances on the offensive end to still come away with the win. Barouch might be the unluckiest player in MLS, because he has either hit the frame or the opposing defense has come up big in most of his chances this year.

Nazarit had his chances, too. The glaring attempt where Nazarit should have done better was in the 75th minute, when he pushed his shot wide right after Oduro set him up.

Oduro netted his fourth goal, which ties him for the Fire lead with Chaves and Marco Pappa. While that is a promising output, Oduro continues to have some scoring chances of his own or setup opportunities where there is a bit to be desired.

Oduro went into an offside position in the 30th minute in an unusual sequence where Nazarit, Chaves and Oduro took too many touches in the attack. In the 21st minute, Oduro was not on the same page with Chaves, coughing up the ball that eventually led to a Lekic shot on goal. In the 38th, Oduro could have done better in trying to connect with Baggio Husidic.

There were some positive moments from the Fire. But Chicago is at a stage where it needs to be grasping maximum points, as well.

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