FOXBOROUGH, Mass. – Midfielder Marco Pappa scored the only goal of the game on a long-range blast in the 30th minute and goalkeeper Andrew Dykstra made six saves to preserve the shutout as the visiting Chicago Fire downed the New England Revolution, 1-0, on Sunday night at Gillette Stadium.
Pappa’s drive will almost assuredly earn a goal of the week nomination, as the Guatemalan’s 25-yard strike swerved with pace before nestling into the back of the net.
The match marked the return to league action for both the Revs (3-8-2, 11 pts.) and Fire (4-3-5, 17 pts.) as both clubs had recently taken time off during Major League Soccer’s league-wide break for the 2010 FIFA World Cup. New England remains in sixth place in the Eastern Conference, now six points back of fourth-place Chicago, which extended its unbeaten streak to five games (2-0-3).
Despite outshooting the Fire by a margin of 22-13, the Revs only found the target with six of their attempts and Dykstra was on hand to stop them all.
Although the Revs were without Steve Ralston (L elbow dislocation), Edgaras Jankauskas (L adductor strain), Darrius Barnes (R foot sprain), Khano Smith (R ankle sprain) and Joseph Niouky (suspension), they welcomed goalkeeper Matt Reis back to the lineup after he missed the first 12 games of the season following offseason shoulder and knee surgeries. The start was Reis’ first in an MLS match since the Revs were eliminated from the 2009 MLS Cup Playoffs by the Fire last November.
With Niouky serving a one-game suspension for yellow-card accumulation, Pat Phelan stepped into central midfield alongside captain Shalrie Joseph.
Reis was provided the luxury of easing his way back into regular-season action, as neither goalkeeper really had much to do in the opening 20 minutes. The game’s first real chance didn’t arrive until the 24th minute, when Revolution midfielder Marko Perovic’s curling corner kick was met by a powerful header from Zack Schilawski, but the effort flew just wide of the left post.
Chicago returned the pressure and almost took the lead four minutes later, but Baggio Husidic’s header looped just over the bar after good work from Mike Banner down the left wing.
It didn’t take long for the visitors to turn their pressure into a goal, however, as a fantastic individual effort from Pappa put the Fire ahead 1-0 in the 30th minute. After ducking past Joseph in the middle of the field, Pappa unleashed a 25-yard drive which appeared to have a bit of movement on it as it headed toward goal. Reis got a fingertip on the shot but couldn’t prevent Pappa from registering his team-leading sixth goal of the season.
New England responded well and Schilawski was at the center of the attack once again in the 36th minute, wriggling free from his marker six yards from goal to meet Chris Tierney’s left-wing cross. The rookie connected well with his header, but it flew over the bar.
The game’s ebb and flow continued in the 43rd minute as Chicago came inches from taking a two-goal lead before the halftime whistle. A well-taken corner kick set up the lethal Brian McBride for an open header at the back post. The veteran forward’s effort was on target, but Sainey Nyassi was well-positioned to clear the ball off the line.
Trailing by a goal, the Revs made one change to start the second half, bringing on Kenny Mansally for Zak Boggs in a straight swap on the left wing. The tactical transformation went a step further in the 62nd minute when forward Kheli Dube replaced Tierney as the Revs went more offensive with a 3-5-2 formation.
The Revolution noticeably ramped up its attack following the switch, but for all their possession the Revs weren’t able to create any clear-cut scoring chances. Dube’s flicked header from Nyassi’s cross skipped wide of the left post in the 69th minute, while Perovic’s 75th-minute drive was deflected out for a corner kick.
In one final push for a late equalizer the Revs handed an MLS debut to rookie Jason Griffiths, who signed with New England earlier this week. Griffiths, a defensive midfielder, slotted alongside Phelan in the center of the field and Joseph pushed into a forward position.
Only Dube’s long-range drive in the 84th minute really tested Dykstra in the closing stages, as the Fire goalkeeper got down well to his right to make the save and preserve the win.
With the regular-season schedule back in full swing, the Revs will return to the road on Friday, July 2, when they visit 2009 MLS Cup champion Real Salt Lake at Rio Tinto Stadium. Kickoff is set for 10 p.m. ET.
New England Revolution (3-8-2, 11pts.) vs. Chicago Fire (4-3-5, 17 pts.)
June 27, 2010 – Gillette Stadium (Foxborough, Mass.)
CHI – Marco Pappa (Dasan Robinson) 30
New England Revolution: Matt Reis (GK), Chris Tierney (Kheli Dube 62), Cory Gibbs, Emmanuel Osei, Kevin Alston, Zak Boggs (Kenny Mansally 46), Pat Phelan, Shalrie Joseph ©, Sainey Nyassi, Marko Perovi?, Zack Schilawski (Jason Griffiths 81)
Substitutes Not Used: Bobby Shuttleworth, Michael Videira, Nico Colaluca, Seth Sinovic
STATS: Shots: 22; Shots on Goal: 6; Saves: 3; Corner Kicks: 13; Offside: 1; Fouls Committed: 9
Chicago Fire: Andrew Dykstra (GK), Dasan Robinson, C.J. Brown, William Conde, Krzysztof Krol, Marco Pappa, Baggio Husidic (Peter Lowry 38), Mike Banner, Logan Pause, Brian McBride © (Stefan Dimitrov 83), Patrick Nyarko (Deris Umanzor 70)
Substitutes Not Used: Sean Johnson, Corben Bone, Kwame Watson-Siriboe
STATS: Shots: 13; Shots on Goal: 5; Saves: 6; Corner Kicks: 6; Offside: 4; Fouls Committed: 10
CHI – Willam Conde (caution) 47
Referee: Jair Marrufo
Referee’s Assistants: Kermit Quisenberry, James Conlee
Fourth Official: Jorge Gonzalez
Weather: Clear and 80 degrees
- With the loss, the Revolution drops to 13-16-8 in all-time regular-season play against the Chicago Fire … the Revs are now 0-5-2, winless in their last seven regular-season games with the Fire, with their last win a 3-1 triumph on May 6, 2007 at Gillette Stadium … additionally, New England dropped its home record over Chicago to 9-8-2.
- Matt Reis made his first regular-season appearance of 2010 after missing the first 12 games of the season while recovering from offseason shoulder and knee surgeries … he made three saves in the loss.
- Reis had a 234-minute regular season consecutive minute shutout streak going into Sunday night’s match before conceding a goal in the 30th minute … his consecutive scoreless streak ended at 264 minutes.
- New England suffered its fourth shutout in its last six games.
- Joseph Niouky was suspended for Sunday night’s match with Chicago after receiving his fifth yellow card of the season during a 3-1 loss at Seattle on June 5.
- The Revs surrendered the first goal of the game for the eighth time in 13 matches this season … New England is now 1-7-0 this season when an opponent scores first … the only win came at home in a 4-1 win over Toronto in the Revolution’s home opener on April 10.
- Kheli Dube came on for Chris Tierney in the 62nd minute and the Revolution switched to a 3-5-2 alignment.
- Rookie Jason Griffiths made his MLS debut when he came on for fellow rookie Zack Schilawski in the 81st minute of play.