BRIDGEVIEW, Ill. – Fernando Cardenas scored his second goal of the season to briefly pull the New England Revolution level early in the first half, but it wasn’t enough to overcome goals from Chris Rolfe and Sherjill MacDonald as the Revs suffered a 2-1 loss to the Chicago Fire on Saturday night at Toyota Park.
Cardenas’ goal arrived in the 11th minute and cancelled out Rolfe’s fifth-minute opener from the penalty spot, but MacDonald pushed the Fire in front for good in the 25th minute and goalkeeper Sean Johnson made two saves to make the one-goal margin hold up.
The loss was the Revolution’s (6-13-5, 23 pts.) fourth straight and extended the club’s winless streak to seven games (0-6-1) dating back to early July. The Fire (12-7-5, 41 pts.) has now won three straight and has climbed into a tie for second place in the Eastern Conference standings.
There were two changes to the Revolution lineup which suffered a 1-0 loss to the Montreal Impact last weekend at Gillette Stadium. Blake Brettschneider and Cardenas joined the starting lineup, while Jerry Bengtson and Benny Feilhaber started on the bench as the Revs began the match in a more traditional 4-4-2 formation.
Chicago jumped out to an early lead when Rolfe converted from the penalty spot in just the fifth minute. Rolfe earned the spot kick himself when he was fouled by A.J. Soares inside the box and the Fire forward stepped up to drill the penalty off the inside of the left post and into the back of the net.
It took New England just six minutes to respond, however, as Cardenas pulled the visitors level at 1-1 with an improvisational finish. Saer Sene’s low cross from the left wing caused havoc inside the Fire penalty area and although Cardenas wasn’t able to direct his first effort on frame, he eventually bundled the ball over the line from close range while on his backside.
MacDonald restored the Fire’s lead in the 25th minute with his first MLS goal, which ultimately proved to be the game winner. The sequence started from a throw-in deep in New England’s defensive end as Patrick Nyarko fought off the challenge of Kevin Alston to loop a cross into the box for MacDonald, who rose highest to power home a header from six yards out.
The Fire almost had a third before halftime when Alvaro Fernandez delivered a teasing cross from the right wing, but his service skimmed the top of the crossbar and Chicago’s advantage remained 2-1 at the break.
Fernandez threatened again through more traditional means in the 54th minute, blasting a full volley on target from the top of the box, but Revolution goalkeeper Matt Reis made a sprawling save to his left. Reis was up to the task again in the 56th minute, holding his near post to deny Nyarko after he burst into the left side of the box.
Reis got a bit of help from Feilhaber – who replaced the injured Lee Nguyen (L ankle) at halftime – in the 74th minute when the midfielder was well positioned on the post to clear Dominic Oduro’s goal-bound header off the line. Former Revolution midfielder Mike Videira put yet another effort on frame in the 80th minute but Reis was alert to the danger, tipping the drive over the crossbar.
The Revolution’s best chance to equalize came in stoppage time when Soares unleashed a drive from 30 yards, but Johnson dove full stretch to his left to deny the effort and send the Revs to their sixth defeat in seven regular-season visits to Toyota Park.
The Revs will be on the road once again next weekend as they’ll visit the Columbus Crew on Saturday, Aug. 25. Kickoff from Crew Stadium is set for 7:30 p.m.
New England Revolution at Chicago Fire
August 18, 2012 – Toyota Park (Bridgeview, Ill.)
Chicago Fire 2, New England Revolution 1
CHI – Chris Rolfe (penalty kick) 5
NE – Fernando Cardenas (unassisted) 11
CHI – Sherjill MacDonald (Patrick Nyarko, Gonzalo Segares) 25
New England Revolution: Matt Reis ©, Chris Tierney, A.J. Soares, Stephen McCarthy, Kevin Alston, Lee Nguyen (Benny Feilhaber 46), Clyde Simms, Ryan Guy, Fernando Cardenas (Kelyn Rowe 68), Blake Brettschneider (Jerry Bengtson 57), Saer Sene
Substitutes Not Used: Tim Murray, Flo Lechner, Diego Fagundez, Darrius Barnes
STATS: Shots 7, Shots on Target 3, Corner Kicks 2, Saves 5, Fouls 11, Offsides 2, Passes (percentage) 546 (82.8%), Possession 57.2%
Chicago Fire: Sean Johnson, Gonzalo Segares, Austin Berry, Arne Friedrich, Jalil Anibaba, Patrick Nyarko (Marco Pappa 75), Pavel Pardo ©, Daniel Paladini, Alvaro Fernandez (Mike Videira 79), Sherjill MacDonald (Dominic Oduro 71), Chris Rolfe
Substitutes Not Used: Jay Nolly, Dan Gargan, Corben Bone, Alex
STATS: Shots 22, Shots on Target 7, Corner Kicks 11, Saves 2, Fouls 8, Offsides 3, Passes (percentage) 399 (78.4%), Possession 42.8%
* Note that all statistics are unofficial
NE – Ryan Guy (caution) 69
CHI – Sean Johnson (caution) 89
Referee: Sorin Stoica
Assistant Referees: Kermit Quisenberry, Corey Parker
Fourth Official: Abi Okulaja
Weather: Clear and 75 degrees
New England Revolution: 6-13-5 (23 pts.)
Chicago Fire: 12-7-5 (41 pts.)
- With the loss, the Revolution moved to 14-19-9 overall in MLS regular-season action against Chicago
- The loss also moved New England’s overall record against the Fire – including MLS Cup Playoffs, U.S. Open Cup and SuperLiga matches – to 22-29-10
- The defeat moved the Revs’ away record against Chicago to 4-11-6 all-time, including a 1-6-2 mark at Toyota Park
- This was the Revs’ third-straight loss at Toyota Park
- The loss extended the Revs’ winless streak to seven games (0-6-1), dating back to July 14 … the streak is the team’s longest since going seven games winless from July 23 through Sept. 7, 2011 (0-2-5)
- The team’s seven shots was the team’s lowest shot output since also recording seven shots against Houston on May 19 in a 2-2 draw at home … the team’s lowest shot total on the season was six at San Jose on March 10 in the season opener
- Tonight marked the second straight game at Toyota Park in which the Revs have conceded a penalty kick goal within the first five minutes … New England also conceded a fifth-minute penalty kick on Sept. 25, 2011
- Fernando Cardenas’ goal was his second of the season and his first since May 2 in a 2-1 win against Colorado at home
- Fernando Cardenas’ goal snapped the Revs 268-minute scoreless streak … the team had not scored since Saer Sene scored in the 12th minute on July 29 at Philadelphia … the 268-minute streak was the eighth-longest in team history
- Blake Brettschneider made his first start since July 14 in the home match against Toronto … it was his 15th appearance of the season and his 10th start
- Lee Nguyen came out of the game at halftime with a left ankle injury … he was replaced by Benny Feilhaber on the left wing
- Kevin Alston completed 43-of-45 passes on the night for a 95.6 passing percentage