BRIDGEVIEW, Ill. – A pair of controversial offside decisions early in the second half turned Saturday night’s pivotal Eastern Conference clash between the New England Revolution and Chicago Fire on its head.
Leading 2-1 after first-half goals from Kelyn Rowe and Saer Sene, the Revs appeared to extend their lead in the 50th minute when Rowe’s exquisite through ball sent Sene on a breakaway, which he completed with a cool finish. But the linesman’s flag went up to rule out the goal, despite replays showing Sene was well onside.
To make matters worse, Chicago equalized five minutes later when an offside call wasn’t made. Patrick Nyarko slipped a pass through to goal scorer Mike Magee – who was onside – but Juan Luis Anangono came from an offside position to set a pick on Revs center back Jose Goncalves and let the ball roll through to Magee.
“Saer’s goal was good,” Revolution head coach Jay Heaps said postgame after viewing the replay. “It’s disappointing because that would’ve made it 3-1. It’s twofold there, right? At our level, we can’t defend the way we did. But a linesman can’t miss the call he missed. It’s as simple as that. All of us need to be better for our league to go forward.”
There was nothing controversial about Alex’s 86th-minute winner, however, as the second-half substitute snuck a long-distance shot inside the right post to lift the Fire to a crucial victory. Regardless of what transpired to send the game into the final stages at 2-2, the Revs were left disappointed with their ability to close it out and at the very least come home with an important road point.
“We have to do better to hold out that game,” said Rowe. “2-2 on the road is not a bad result. Obviously we’d like to win it, but we needed to get a point out of this one.”
“All the way around, our defending has to be better,” added Heaps. “I think across the board, from top to bottom, we have to be better defensively.”
Saturday night’s loss dropped the Revs into seventh place in the Eastern Conference, outside the playoff places, making two upcoming home games against D.C. United and the Houston Dynamo even more important.
“There are only six games left for us to make this playoff run,” said Rowe. “It started five, six games ago, so we’re trying to get on a run and we need to win the next couple games.”