FOXBOROUGH, Mass. – The New England Revolution experienced a mild sense of déjà vu on Saturday night at Gillette Stadium.
For the second time in four days, the Revs matched their season-high by firing 19 shots at their opponents’ goal. Just as they did in a 0-0 draw with Toronto FC on Wednesday, the Revs created a series of quality scoring chances as they pushed forward in a more attack-minded 4-4-2 formation.
But for the second straight game, the Revs were left frustrated as they secured only a single point in a 1-1 draw with the Chicago Fire.
“I thought we pushed the game all the time,” said head coach Steve Nicol. “We’re disappointed to make the chances we did (and not score a game-winning goal). (Rajko) Lekic nearly gets it there at the end with a fantastic effort.
“But that’s just how it’s going at the present time,” Nicol bemoaned. “We have to keep banging away. We certainly can’t have any complaints making chances again, but we need to start putting them in.”
A pair of chances from Kenny Mansally went begging in the 38th and 66th minutes as the Gambian directed his efforts off target both times, while Lekic was denied by Chicago goalkeeper Sean Johnson on multiple occasions in the first half.
But while there were striking similarities between both of the Revolution’s matches in the now completed two-game home-stand, there were noticeable differences, as well.
After struggling with his accuracy against Toronto FC, Lekic found his form against the Fire and registered his second goal of the season in the 48th minute. The Danish striker neatly settled Pat Phelan’s stray shot and calmly deposited the ball inside the right post to break his eight-game scoreless streak.
“It was huge,” Nicol said of Lekic’s goal. “Since coming, it’s been hard for him playing up top on his own. That’s never easy for anybody. The finish tonight, on the one hand looks simple, but if you panic it becomes a lot harder. But he kept his cool, just stroked it away and finished.”
“I saw that Pat was going to shoot,” said Lekic. “I was thinking if he missed the ball, I was all alone and I can get the ball in a free position and then make the goal hopefully. That happened, so I made the goal like that.”
While Lekic contributed with his poacher’s finish, Sainey Nyassi was consistently dangerous down the right wing, where he started in place of the injured Zak Boggs (R MCL sprain). Nyassi terrorized Chicago left back Gonzalo Segares for 90 minutes and was unlucky not to create a goal or score one himself.
“Stevie put that confidence in me,” Nyassi said of his head coach. “He told me [Segares] was slow and he’s a smart player. He uses his experience, so Stevie told me to always go by him. That’s what I did and it was successful.”
While Lekic and Nyassi were bright spots in the attacking third, ultimately the Revs were once again left frustrated as they secured just one point from a game in which they felt three were more than attainable. With their brief two-game home-stand in the books, the Revs will now have to regroup ahead of a busy stretch in which they’ll play five of their next six league games on the road.
“We could have been up by three goals in the first half and that would have been really helpful,” said Nyassi. “Unfortunately, we couldn’t finish our chances in the first half. I would say that … all together, we were positive throughout the game. So we’ll keep our heads up.”