BRIDGEVIEW, Ill. – The New England Revolution got its 2013 season off to a winning start with a 1-0 victory over the Chicago Fire on Saturday night at Toyota Park.
Jerry Bengtson scored the game’s only goal in the 62nd minute, finishing from close range after Kelyn Rowe and Juan Toja combined to create the chance. Revolution goalkeeper Matt Reis made four saves – including a spectacular sprawling stop late in the first half – to register the clean sheet.
It was the Revolution’s (1-0-0, 3 pts.) first season-opening win since 2009, while it was the club’s first regular-season win in Chicago since July 8, 2006. The Fire (0-2-0, 0 pts.), meanwhile, suffered its second straight shutout loss to begin the season.
The Revolution’s starting lineup featured four players making their MLS debuts, including offseason signings Kalifa Cisse and Jose Goncalves, and SuperDraft selections Andrew Farrell and Donnie Smith.
Cisse was involved early, forcing Chicago goalkeeper Sean Johnson into the game’s first save when he got on the end of Bengtson’s right-wing cross in the fifth minute.
Reis wasn’t called into action until the 27th minute when Patrick Nyarko forced a turnover inside the box and slipped a quick pass to Sherjill MacDonald, who rushed a shot which was easily handled.
Four minutes later Reis made a much more spectacular stop, stretching to tip Dilly Duka’s long-range drive off the crossbar. Joel Lindpere then tested Reis with another go from distance in the 39th minute, but the veteran ‘keeper was again up to the task.
Rowe entered shortly after the halftime break and was involved immediately as the Revs used some smooth passing to create a chance in the 56th minute. Rowe, Toja and Lee Nguyen all combined to slip Toja into the right side of the box, but Fire defender Austin Berry intervened with a late sliding challenge.
Rowe continued to impact the proceedings and engineered the Revolution’s breakthrough in the 62nd minute. The second-year midfielder won an aerial duel to nod the ball down to Toja and then immediately received a return pass. Rowe delivered a clever chip over the Fire’s backline to Bengtson, who finished with a close-range header.
Chicago made a late push for an equalizer, but the home side’s best chance – a stoppage-time effort from Maicon Santos – was comfortably handled by Reis.
The Revs will be on the road once again next weekend when they visit the Philadelphia Union on Saturday, March 16. Kickoff from PPL Park is set for 5 p.m.
New England Revolution at Chicago Fire
March 9, 2013 – Toyota Park (Bridgeview, Ill.)
New England Revolution 1, Chicago Fire 0
NE – Jerry Bengtson (Kelyn Rowe) 62
New England Revolution: Matt Reis, Kevin Alston, Jose Goncalves, A.J. Soares, Andrew Farrell, Donnie Smith (Kelyn Rowe 53), Clyde Simms, Kalifa Cisse, Lee Nguyen, Juan Toja (Diego Fagundez 79), Jerry Bengtson (Chad Barrett 90)
Substitutes Not Used:Bobby Shuttleworth, Scott Caldwell, Andy Dorman, Darius Barnes
STATS: Shots 9, Shots on Target 3, Corner Kicks 4, Saves 4, Fouls 21, Offsides 1, Passes (percentage) 324 (68.2%), Possession 46.2%
Chicago Fire: Sean Johnson, Gonzalo Segares, Austin Berry, Steven Kinney, Jalil Anibaba, Patrick Nyarko, Jeff Larentowicz, Joel Lindpere, Dilly Duka (Yazid Atouba Emane 58), Sherjill MacDonald (Maicon Santos 46); Chris Rolfe (Alex 66)
Substitutes Not Used: Paolo Tornaghi, Daniel Paladini, Wells Thompson, Michael Videira,
STATS: Shots 8, Shots on Target 4, Corner Kicks 0, Saves 2, Fouls 13, Offsides 5, Passes (percentage) 383 (70.0%), Possession 53.8%
* Note that all statistics are unofficial as supplied by Opta
CHI – Jeff Larentowicz (caution) 55
NE – Diego Fagundez (caution) 86
Referee: Hilario Grajeda
Assistant Referees: Kermit Quisenberry, Paul Scott
Fourth Official: Jorge Gonzalez
Weather: Clear and 40 degrees
New England Revolution – 1-0-0 (3 pts.)
Chicago Fire – 0-2-0 (0 pts.)
- With the win, the Revolution moved to 16-19-9 in all-time regular-season action against Chicago
- The win moved the Revs’ all-time, regular-season away record at Chicago to 5-11-6
- The Revs have now won three of their last four games against Chicago after going 2-1-0 against the Fire in 2012
- The Revs are now 5-9-4 all-time in season openers, including a 4-9-4 mark on the road
- The Revs’ win was their second consecutive win on the road, dating back to a 1-0 win at Montreal on Oct. 27, 2012 to close the 2012 season … the Revs had two wins on the road in 2012
- Seven of the Revs’ last eight season openers have resulted in shutout decisions … the Revs are 4-3-0 in those games
- The last time the Revs won their season opener was 2009 – a 1-0 win at San Jose
- Jay Heaps is now 1-1-0 in season openers as a head coach …both of his season-opening games have been 1-0 decisions … the Revs dropped their 2012 season opener, 1-0, at San Jose
- The win was the team’s first regular-season victory at Toyota Park since 2006 … since opening the building with a 3-3 draw on June 11, 2006, and then posting a 2-1 win on July 8, 2006, the Revs went 0-6-1 at Toyota Park until tonight’s win
- Jerry Bengtson’s goal was his third career goal with the Revs … in 2012, he had two goals in 13 appearance after splitting time with New England and the Honduras national team after joining the team in July
- Kelyn Rowe recorded his third career assist against Chicago in four meetings … overall, he has one goal and three assists against the Fire
- Overall, tonight’s assist was the sixth of his career after he was credited with five assists in 2012 as a rookie
- Matt Reis recorded his 71st career shutout tonight with his four-save effort … it was the 62nd shutout as a member of the Revolution
- Five Revs made their New England debuts tonight: Chad Barrett, Kalifa Cisse, Andrew Farrell, Jose Goncalves and Donnie Smith … all but Barrett were also making their MLS debuts
- Tonight, a total of five players made their first starts for the Revolution: Kalifa Cisse, Andrew Farrell, Jose Goncalves, Donnie Smith and Juan Toja
- Juan Toja’s start was not only his first with the Revs, but his first since July 19, 2008, when he started and played 90 minutes – and scored a goal – in FC Dallas’ 2-2 draw against Colorado … that was his last MLS appearance before transferring to Romania’s Steaua Bucurest
- With his start tonight, Matt Reis moved into sole possession of fourth place on the MLS’ goalkeepers starts list with 277 … he entered the game tied with Zach Thornton at 276
- Additionally, Matt Reis moved into a tie for second place with current head coach Jay Heaps on the Revs’ career appearance list … Reis now has 243 career appearances with the Revs
- Tonight’s lineup featured two rookies – Andrew Farrell and Donnie Smith – marking the fifth straight year the Revs have started at least one rookie on opening night
- With Andrew Farrell and Donnie Smith in the starting lineup tonight, the Revs have now started at least two rookies in their season opener in four of the last five years …in 2012, the only rookie in the starting lineup was Kelyn Rowe
- The Fire’s gameday roster had three former Revs players on it: Jeff Larentowicz, Wells Thompson and Mike Videira