FOXBOROUGH, Mass. – An opportunity to climb within three points of the final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference eluded the New England Revolution on Saturday night at Gillette Stadium, as they came from behind twice but were forced to settle for a 2-2 draw with the visiting Chicago Fire.
A pair of untimely defensive errors – a first-half giveaway from Brandon Bye that led to Chicago’s opener and a second-half own goal from Michael Mancienne – provided the Fire a foothold, and although the Revs answered each time – first through Scott Caldwell and then Cristian Penilla – they couldn’t find the winner that would’ve secured three precious points.
“Their goals came from two mistakes – I made a mistake, Brandon made a mistake in the first half,” said Mancienne, who turned a low cross into his own net in the 67th minute. “That’s just bread and butter stuff for me. I’m devastated with myself, really angry with myself, because that’s bread and butter for me. Normally, I should clear that.
“But anyway, we should’ve won. We had so many chances … Second half, we were all over them, and to be honest, when you’re all over a team like that, you’ve got to take your chances. We could’ve won that game, I don’t know, 6-2, you know what I mean? If you take your chances, you put a team like that in the ground. That’s what we unfortunately couldn’t do on the day.”
The vast majority of New England’s chances came following a halftime tactical adjustment and a pair of substitutions. Chicago set out to sit deep and defend, and the Revs struggled to break them down in a frustrating first half. But on came Juan Agudelo and newcomer Guillermo Hauché to start the second half as the Revs moved to a 4-4-2, and Kelyn Rowe moved from the wing to an attack-minded left back role.
The changes paid dividends as the Revs found their feet, but they were still left exasperated by the opportunities that fell by the wayside.
“We’re creating a lot of chances,” said head coach Brad Friedel. “Teal (Bunbury) had some good chances. Juan Agudelo had some good chances – that I wasn’t disappointed in at all. Sometimes the strikers score the goals, sometimes they don’t. The final touch into the net is the all-important one.”
In combination with the Montreal Impact’s 1-1 draw at home with New York City FC, the result leaves New England in the same spot they started the evening: five points back of the final playoff spot with a game in hand on Montreal, but now with just five games to make up the gap.
It’s a task Friedel is still confident the Revs will have every opportunity to accomplish.
“We’re going to keep fighting,” Friedel said. “I still hold the belief that we will make the playoffs.”