New England hosted Chicago in an Eastern Conference rivalry game on Saturday, the possession of the ball changed throughout the game, as both teams had many scoring chances.
Chicago showed early that the team had come to play for a victory. In just the fifth minute defender Jalil Anibaba had an effort from 30 yards out that goalkeeper Matt Reis was forced to push over as the Fire showed their attacking intent.
New England followed the Fire's attempt by creating many chances of its own. Its 4-4-2 formation seemed to work , but the finishing was once again lacking early on in the match. In the 21st minute Rajko Lekic received a cross from Sainey Nyassi, his attempted volley bounced off of Chicago keeper Sean Johnson. The team was not done there as Nyassi had a break on net in the 22nd minute when he found his space in the box, but could not put the ball on frame.
The Revolution attack continued in the 28th minute as Darrius Barnes played a ball into the Fire box that was met by a Kevin Alston header. The header bounced towards Lekic who took another volley on net, but Johnson made a sprawling save to prevent a certain goal.
Chicago countered well throughout the game using its speed as an advantage and New England struggled to find a way to counter Chicago's pace.
"They have a lot of fast players, (while) we have a lot of players up high," said Revolution defender Chris Tierney. "So they are going to be dangerous anytime the balls comes forward to them because they leave numbers up.”
Chicago took its chance's off of a counterattack and struck first in the 32nd minute. Domonic Oduro received a great cross field pass from Patrick Nyarko on a counter, Reis had no chance as Oduro easily slotted by to put his team up 1-0.
Tierney pointed out the attacking threat of the duo after the game, saying: “Anytime you got players like Oduro or Nyarko, speed like that, they are gonna be dangerous.”
New England came out with the right mindset in the second half as the team continued with attacking play. In the 48th minute Lekic found the breakthrough the team was looking for. Pat Phelan found a ball outside the Fire box and saw Lekic in a great position. Lekic received a pass from Phelan and put the ball past Johnson for the easy goal.
With the game knotted up New England looked to be the hungrier team. In the 54th minute Chris Tierney delivered a corner into the box. A.J Soares ran into to space and put the ball on the near post, only to be pushed away by Johnson.
Chicago started to run the game after the 70th minute, as its opponents seemed very tired.
“The last ten minutes, you'd have to save I guess the midweek game caught up with us," said New England coach Steve Nicol. "We ran out of legs.”
The visiting team continued to try and get three points late in the match. In the 73rd minute Orr Barouch received a corner and put a header on net, New England substitute Ryan Guy was there to clear the ball off the line.
Chicago substitute Daniel Paladini just missed a chance to add to the scoreline in the 81st minute. His shot from outside the box was just pushed over the bar by Reis.
Both teams have much to take from this game. New England's attacking play improved on the creativity it's been lacking.
“We worked hard, we created a lot of chances, and if you play like that you are gonna win a lot of games,” said Tierney.
Chicago goalkeeper Sean Johnson felt his team earned a good road point ahead of its upcoming schedule.
“Coming away with a 1-1 result we will be happy with,” said Johnson. "We will move forward as long as we keep chugging away and getting points, especially on the road now that we are back home for two games.”
Johnson, who had a outstanding game himself, mentioned the play of Oduro as something that stood out to him.
“The counter for the goal was unbelievable, Dominic did a great job to finish”
Chicago will return home on Wednesday to face Real Salt Lake. While New England will be on the road against the Western Conference Seattle Sounders next Sunday.
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