The New England Revolution, the odd team out last weekend as the MLS season kicked off, finally played their first match of the season on the road against the Chicago Fire. They emerged with their record still unscathed, Honduran international Jerry Bengston nabbing a second-half goal against the run of play to spoil Chicago’s home opener for the first New England victory in the Windy City since 2006.
All night the Fire had the better run of play, controlling possession and getting the ball upfield in attack. Four times New England goalkeeper Matt Reis would be pressed into action, stonewalling an increasingly frustrated Fire offense. The first came in the 27th minute, when Patrick Nyarko fought off two defenders and found Sherjill MacDonald wide open and onside just six yards from the goal. The Dutchman took the pass but could get little on the trickling shot that rolled straight to Reis.
Four minutes later, Dilly Duka blasted a rising shot from 30 yards that forced Reis to leap and tap the ball over the crossbar with his fingertips. Neither team would score in the first half, Chicago squandering several opportunities while the Revs were lucky to be level.
That all changed after Fire midfielder Joel Lindpere inexplicably looked to pass wide in the 50th minute. Bearing down on Reis, all alone with just a keeper to beat, Lindpere tapped an off-balance pass toward the edge that New England’s keeper easily corralled. It would be the best chance the Fire would get in the second half, as New England slowly found their offensive footing and began to pressure the hosts.
Soon after, Kelyn Rowe came on to replace a largely ineffective Donald Smith. The move rejuvenated a flagging attack, as Rowe and Juan Toja combined to engineer several chances leading up to the goal. In the 57th, the pair linked up with Lee Nguyen to create a dangerous opportunity that forced Chicago goalkeeper Sean Johnson and defender Austin Berry to concede a corner kick. Five minutes later, Toja gathered a ball at the top of the box before laying off for Rowe. The super-sub chipped the ball toward the far post, where Bengston was waiting for the easy header that would prove the difference in a close encounter at Toyota Park.
NEW ENGLAND REVOLUTION @ CHICAGO FIRE
March 9, 2013
- 62′ — NE/Jerry Bengston (Kelyn Rowe)
- CHI (4-2-3-1): Sean Johnson; Gonzalo Segares, Austin Berry, Jalil Anibaba, Steven Kinney; Joel Lindpere, Jeff Larentowicz; Dilly Duka (Yazid Atouba/58′), Chris Rolfe (Alex/65′), Patrick Nyarko; Sherjill MacDonald (Maicon Santos/45′)
- NE (4-4-1-1): Matt Reis; Kevin Alston, Jose Gonçalves, A.J. Soares, Andrew Farrell; Donald Smith (Kelyn Rowe/53′), Clyde Simms, Kalifa Cisse, Lee Nguyen; Juan Carlos Toja (Diego Fagundez/79′); Jerry Bengston (Chad Barrett/89′)