Chicago Fire: New England Revolution

Fire falls behind early in loss to Revs

October, 20, 2012
FOXBOROUGH, Mass. -- Diego Fagundez scored in the 17th minute to lead New England over the Chicago Fire 1-0 Saturday night and end a 196-minute scoreless streak for the Revolution.

Fagundez took a pass from Kelyn Rowe and scored from 30 yards.

Goalkeeper Bobby Shuttleworth, dressed in pink for breast cancer awareness month, needed to make just one save in his second shutout of the season for New England (8-17-8), which already has been eliminated from playoff contention.

Chicago (17-11-5) already had clinched a playoff berth.

New England, 2-1 against the Fire this season, was without midfielder Benny Feilhaber, serving a one-game suspension for his red card at Philadelphia on Oct. 6.

New England's Jerry Bengtson, coming off a hat trick for Honduras against Canada on Tuesday as Los Catrachos advanced to the final round of World Cup qualifying, received his first yellow card of the MLS season in the 44th minute for a reckless challenge.

Shuttleworth stopped Patrick Nyarko's shot in the 86th off a cross from Alvaro Fernandez.

Fire acquire Thompson from Rapids

September, 10, 2012
The Chicago Fire acquired midfielder Wells Thompson from the Colorado Rapids for a conditional draft pick, the team announced on Monday.

"Wells is a steady, dependable player that has proven himself in MLS," Fire coach Frank Klopas said in a statement. "He will provide additional depth and coverage on the wing and in the midfield as we continue to make our push for the MLS Cup Playoffs."

Thompson, a veteran of 75 MLS regular season matches, will be available to play Wednesday when the Fire play on the road against Toronto FC.

Thompson joined the Rapids in 2010 from the New England Revolution and was a member of the Colorado squad that won the 2010 MLS Cup.

Drafted fifth overall by the Revolution in the 2007 MLS SuperDraft, Thompson played in 71 regular season appearances in three seasons for the Revolution.

Fire go scoreless in loss to Revs

June, 2, 2012

FOXBOROUGH, Mass. -- Second-half substitute Kelyn Rowe broke a scoreless game in the 70th minute to lift the Revolution to a 2-0 win over the Chicago Fire on Saturday night.

Rowe, who came on in the 64th minute, gave the Revolution the advantage while Benny Feilhaber added another in the 73rd minute. Revolution goalkeeper Matt Reis made three saves to preserve the shutout, his second of the season.

The win snapped the Revolution's two-game winless streak and upped their record to 5-7-1 (16 points). Meanwhile, the Fire dropped their second straight and fell to 5-5-3 (21 points).

The Revs and Fire struggled to find scoring chances in the first half, as Reis and Fire goalkeeper Sean Johnson were rarely tested.

Chicago nearly got on the board in the 48th minute when Orr Borouch sent it to Dominic Oduro, who's header ricocheted off the post.

Four minutes later, Sebastian Grazzini hit one from outside the box and forced Reis to the dive before Patrick Nyarko put a foot on it at the near post.

But the Revolution attack came to life in the second half. Six minutes after he entered the match, Rowe took a hold of pass from Feilhaber and flicked it through to put the Revolution on top.

Rowe returned the favor in the 73rd minute when he played a diagonal ball to Feilhaber, who redirected it past Johnson to cap the scoring.

The Revolution return to action in two weeks when they face the Columbus Crew on June 16 at home. The Fire head home to face the New York Red Bulls on June 17.

Early surge helps Fire edge Revs

September, 25, 2011

BRIDGEVIEW, Ill. -- The Chicago Fire made an early push on the offensive end, and they needed every goal to overcome a late lapse on the defensive end against the New England Revolution on Sunday. Chicago tallied three first-half goals and edged the Revs, 3-2, in front of 14,576 at Toyota Park.

Fire midfielder Sebastian Grazzini had a goal and an assist before leaving the match in the 25th minute because of left hamstring tightness. Dominic Oduro netted his team-leading 11th goal, and Patrick Nyarko's first goal of the season proved to be the game-winner as the Fire took a 3-0 lead into halftime.

It was a much needed victory for Chicago in order to stay within reach of the bottom of the wild card pack. The New York Red Bulls moved back into the final wild card position on Saturday with 39 points after posting a 2-0 win over the Portland Timbers.

Sebastian Grazzini
David Banks/Getty ImagesThe Fire's Sebastian Grazzini celebrates his goal with teammates Marco Pappa and Logan Pause on Sunday.

"There was a lot on the line -- do or die, I think, for both clubs," Fire interim head coach Frank Klopas said. "We came out and we had a very good start to the game."

The Fire (6-8-15, 33 points) still have to make up a six-point deficit over five games, and they will not have much time to rest as they travel to Rio Tinto Stadium to take on Real Salt Lake. As for the Revs (5-13-12, 27 points), their hopes for the postseason have just about faded, though the last-place Eastern Conference squad has not mathematically been eliminated just yet.

Grazzini was having a strong match with a goal and an assist. But he was replaced by Baggio Husidic after he hurt his hamstring.

"I just got a little stiff," Grazzini said. "The same as the [Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup] game against Richmond. I feel all right, but I'm going to try to work hard to get back as soon as possible."

It is hard to say if Grazzini can make a quick enough recovery in time for the Fire's Wednesday match at Real Salt Lake.

"I'm not sure because I haven't been looked at by the doctors yet," Grazzini said through a translator. "But hopefully [Monday] we'll be able to get that taken care of, and then hopefully be back by Wednesday because I would like to play."

"I don't know the extent or how serious the pull is," Klopas said. "But we'll have to see how he feels [Monday]."

On Sunday, Grazzini netted a penalty-kick goal in the fifth minute for a 1-0 lead. The Fire earned the opportunity after Revs goalkeeper Matt Reis tripped up Nyarko in the fourth minute. Grazzini then assisted an Oduro goal in the ninth minute for a 2-0 advantage. Grazzini had a couple of chances to slot the ball to Oduro as the Revs' defense broke down in tracking Oduro.

Nyarko then got into the scoring column in the 30th minute with an open-net goal after Reis made a poor attempt to clear the ball with his foot. That gave the Fire a 3-0 halftime lead for the first time at home since a 4-0 victory over the Revs on April 3, 2008.

The Fire maintained their three-goal cushion for most of the second half, but Revs midfielder Ryan Guy tallied an unassisted score in the 90th minute, followed by his second goal a couple minutes into stoppage time.

"We're kicking ourselves a little bit because we made it a little tougher on ourselves at the end," Nyarko said. "But it's a win. We set the tone early and we got ahead early. That was the key in this game. We still had a couple of chances to put the game away, but that's how it goes."

Fire goalkeeper Sean Johnson actually was tested pretty regularly, but he had a beat on most of New England's scoring chances, coming up with a game-high eight saves. His counterpart, Reis, made three saves.

Analysis: The Fire will take the closing minutes to heart, but this match clearly was in Chicago's control. Chicago had its most productive first half of the season, while the Revs looked every bit like a non-playoff team that they are about to become.

The Fire should be concerned that Grazzini has not had a healthy stretch with the Fire. While Husidic did not have a poor performance on Sunday off the bench, it is not even fair to compare him against what Grazzini brings to the pitch with his control and the ability to create scoring opportunities.

Klopas smartly gave Oduro and Nyarko some rest in the second half in gearing up for Salt Lake this Wednesday. RSL will be eager to erase its horrific 4-1 loss to D.C. United over the weekend.

Rapid Reaction: Fire 3, Revolution 2

September, 25, 2011

BRIDGEVIEW, Ill. -- Here is a quick look at the Chicago Fire's 3-2 victory against the New England Revolution on Sunday at Toyota Park:

How it happened: Fire midfielder Sebastian Grazzini netted a penalty kick goal in the fifth minute for a 1-0 Chicago lead. The opportunity stemmed from Revs goalkeeper Matt Reis tripping up Fire forward Patrick Nyarko in the fourth minute. Grazzini then assisted a Dominic Oduro goal in the ninth minute for a 2-0 lead as Oduro notched his team-leading 11th tally of the season. In the 30th minute, Nyarko netted an easy goal for a 3-0 advantage as Reis made a casual attempt to clear the ball with his foot. The Revs made things interesting as Ryan Guy netted a 90th-minute goal and a stoppage-time goal to cut it to 3-2. But New England ran out of time and came up just short. Grazzini's day was cut short as he left the match in the 25th minute because of left hamstring tightness.

What it means: With the victory, the Fire improve to 6-8-15 (33 points) and the Revs fall to 5-13-12 (27 points). The Fire move to within six points of the New York Red Bulls, who currently hold the final wild card spot with 39 points following their 2-0 win over the Portland Timbers. Though New England is not mathematically eliminated from the playoff picture, the Revs' hopes for the postseason were basically erased as they sit in last place in the Eastern Conference.

Outside the box: The last time the Fire had a 3-0 halftime lead at home was on April 3, 2008, when Chicago topped the Revs, 4-0.

Up next: The Fire prepare for two road games in a four-day stretch. Chicago faces Real Salt Lake on Wednesday at Rio Tinto Stadium, followed by a 3 p.m. match against the Houston Dynamo on Saturday at Robertson Stadium.

Fire attempt to stay in hunt against Revs

September, 24, 2011
BRIDGEVIEW, Ill. -- The theme for the Chicago Fire will not change over the next several weeks. Chicago is in must-win mode with six regular-season matches remaining. And as long as the rest of the MLS field continues to oblige by keeping the Fire in the mix, that outside chance of a postseason berth remains.

The Fire (5-8-15, 30 points) host the New England Revolution (5-12-12, 27 points) this Sunday at Toyota Park, facing the only team remaining on Chicago's schedule that is in worse shape than the Fire.

"Now that we've put kind of a little run together, we've got to keep it going," Fire goalkeeper Sean Johnson said. "We can't afford to take strides forward and then take steps back. We've got to keep pushing, pushing, pushing, until we get to where we want to be. And that's ultimately the playoffs."

Before Saturday night's match between the expansion Portland Timbers and the host New York Red Bulls, Portland was holding on to the final wild card berth with 37 points -- one point ahead of New York. Also heading into Saturday, the Fire were seven points behind the Timbers.

The Fire have won three of their past four matches, and Chicago's offense has been energized by the play of forward Dominic Oduro.

Oduro has been on a tear over the past month and a half, most recently notching a shorthanded, game-winning tally against Chivas USA last Saturday to up his season total to 10 goals. He became the first Fire player since Damani Ralph in 2004 to reach double digits. Oduro is now in the running for the Golden Boot, thanks to five goals over Chicago's past seven regular-season matches.

Defensively, Fire center back Cory Gibbs was issued a red card during Chicago's win over Chivas and will miss Sunday's match. Chicago right back Dan Gargan will be back in the fold after missing the Chivas match (yellow card accumulation).

Chicago has allowed four goals in its past two games, and the Fire will have to play again without a key defensive component in Gibbs. The Fire's back line has had to reconfigure itself every week, dating back to left back Gonzalo Segares missing the Sept. 10 loss to the San Jose Earthquakes (yellow card accumulation).

"When you change formations it's always difficult getting guys on the same page," Johnson said of the recent defensive adjustments. "No matter what team's on the field, I think everyone is capable of getting the job done."

Chicago's three victories over the past month have all come at home. The Fire have improved their Toyota Park record to 4-2-8.

The Revs are on the edge of elimination from postseason contention, and a loss to the Fire would surely represent the end to their season.

New England was dealt a significant hit up front when Danish striker Rajko Lekic sprained his left ankle during the team's 3-0 loss to the Timbers last Friday. Lekic, who is second on the team with six goals, is expected to miss most of the Revs' remaining games -- if not all of them.

Lekic helped New England salvage a 1-1 draw when the Revolution faced the Fire on June 18 at Gillette Stadium. Chicago had a 1-0 halftime lead thanks to an Oduro goal in the 32nd minute. But shortly after the break in the 48th, Lekic tallied the equalizer to come away with a point at home.

Lekic's presence will be sorely missed as midfielder Shalrie Joseph represents the only big offensive threat to date. Joseph has provided 25 percent of the Revs' scoring this season with a team-leading eight goals.

Lone defensive mistake costs Fire in draw

June, 18, 2011
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.

Pappa stays hot as Fire blank Revs

June, 27, 2010

Marco Pappa
Gail Oskin/Getty ImagesMarco Pappa's goal gave the Chicago Fire a 1-0 lead over the New England Revolution on Sunday.

The Chicago Fire's layoff did not cool down midfielder Marco Pappa. He netted his fourth goal in three games as Chicago defeated the New England Revolution, 1-0, on Sunday night in Major League Soccer action at Gillette Stadium in Foxborough, Mass. The Fire have a five-game unbeaten streak.

The 22-year-old Guatemalan already has surpassed his goals total of a year ago with a team-high six tallies this season. Pappa's goal came in the 30th minute when he eluded New England's Shalrie Joseph with a hesitation move, then cranked a 30-yard shot past Revs goalkeeper Matt Reis. Reis dove to his right, but could not get much more than a glove tip on the ball.

Chicago (4-3-5) looked like it padded its lead to 2-0 in the 43rd minute. Fire target forward Brian McBride had a header off of Pappa's corner kick. New England's Sainey Nyassi stood just behind the goal line on the far left post when McBride's header bounced off of Nyassi's legs. Replays did not confirm whether the entire ball crossed the plane, and the Revs stayed within one goal.

New England (3-8-2) had an abundance of scoring chances -- several through Zack Schilawski in the first half -- and Nyassi's 61st-minute attempt when he manuevered around Fire defender Wilman Conde and shot just wide right of the net.

But the Fire defense and goalkeeper Andrew Dykstra kept New England off the scoreboard. It was Dykstra's third clean sheet of the season as he came up with six saves.

Despite the Fire going into a defensive mode toward the end of the match, New England's best opportunities actually came in the first half. Schilawski could have burned the Fire early on, and getting through that first half unscathed was pretty significant for Chicago.

In the 10th minute, the Revs smartly took their free kick while Chicago still was organizing itself, and it led to a Schilawski shot that deflected off of Conde and went to Dykstra. In 24th minute, Schilawski had a header that went wide left as he beat the Fire defense. And in the 37th minute, Schilawski had a header that went over the crossbar, and the Fire left him unmarked.

A clean sheet is a clean sheet, and it does not really matter if the journey to get it had its rough patches.

The Fire showed some poise toward the end, and Dykstra's play also improved in the final minutes. The first-year No. 1 goalkeeper still is going to have a few scary moments here and there, but Dykstra had some confident moments toward the end when he stepped up to fend off crosses and dangerous sends into the box.

Chicago is in the thick of the East and pulled off a road win against a conference foe. You can't ask for much more than that.

MLS play resumes at New England Sunday

June, 26, 2010

Patrick Nyarko
Jonathan Daniel/Getty ImagesMidfielder Patrick Nyarko said the Fire needs better focus to improve their game as MLS play resumes Sunday.

BRIDGEVIEW, Ill. -- Remember Major League Soccer?

MLS has taken a back seat to the 2010 FIFA World Cup, but the Chicago Fire have not gone away. They travel to the east coast to take on the New England Revolution on Sunday.

The Fire (3-3-5) had a little more than a two-week hiatus from league play, but they have been training and hope to make a heavier impact starting with Eastern Conference foe New England (3-7-2).

"We're starting out fresh," Fire midfielder Patrick Nyarko said. "It's a new season for us and we need to be more consistent than we have been."

Chicago currently is in the middle of the pack in the East, so by no means should there be any immediate concern about making up for some disappointing early outcomes. But the Fire players are well aware that they need to improve when it comes to the momentary lapses they have had.

"Everybody understands the issues," Fire forward Brian McBride said. "What we need to do is play better and be consistent."

"It's up to the players," Nyarko said. "The coaches can say all they want. It's up to us to actually do it on the field, and it's just that discipline, that concentration. We need to hold ourselves responsible."

Fire head coach Carlos de los Cobos continually is reinforcing this element because Chicago has dropped some key potential points. Particularly in the Fire's most recent match against the Colorado Rapids, a second-half stoppage-time lapse resulted in a 2-2 draw and only one point instead of a three-point home victory.

"Communication is very important," de los Cobos said. "All the time, I'm talking with the players. They need to learn that this is their profession. They need to take care of this situation. Communication gives you the opportunity to stay alert in games. I tell them the points that we miss or we lost, they're never returning. ... These next three points on the road this Sunday, we need to take them."

New England officially announced earlier in the week that Taylor Twellman is out for the season because of his ongoing battle to recover from a concussion sustained nearly two years ago. The Revs are used to playing without him, though. And New England, led by midfielder Shalrie Joseph, typically has a knack for making up for a slew of injuries.

"I think they're always a very organized team," McBride said. "[Revs head coach] Steve Nicol has them playing for each other every game. They're very hard workers. We need to make sure we out-work them and take our chances."

John's status uncertain: De los Cobos said Thursday following training that it was highly unlikely that forward Collins John will be available for Sunday's match. John is not on the MLS Injury Report, but he missed training Thursday and the Fire organization still is not divulging the exact reason for John's continual health setbacks. The offseason signing has one goal and one assist through nine league games, four as a starter.