Special to CSNNE.com
BRIDGEVIEW, Ill. – Kelyn Rowe and Saer Sene scored first-half goals, but the New England Revolution fell, 3-2, to the Chicago Fire on Saturday night at Toyota Park following a pair of controversial decisions in the second half that directly affected the score line.
Rowe put the Revs up 1-0 in the ninth minute, and then after Chicago leveled midway through the first half, Sene sent New England into the intermission up 2-1 with his stoppage time goal. However, Sene’s disallowed goal on an offside decision in the second half, then the Fire’s second goal being allowed despite offside and foul protests, helped the Fire secure the full three points.
With the loss, New England (10-11-7, 37 points) dropped out of playoff positioning in the Eastern Conference standings, falling from fifth to seventh. Chicago (11-11-6, 39 pts.) leapfrogged the Revs into fifth place in the standings following the win and other East results that shuffled the standings. The Revolution has six games left to play.
Revs head coach Jay Heaps made three changes to the lineup he put out last weekend against Montreal. With Matt Reis suspended while serving a red-card suspension, Bobby Shuttleworth stepped back in to goal. Stephen McCarthy came in for A.J. Soares at center back, while Sene returned to the right wing in place of Chad Barrett.
After Dimitry Imbongo saw his headed goal waved off in the seventh minute for an offside infraction, Rowe made sure his attempt stuck in the ninth minute. Launching from 25 yards away off a short lay-off from Sene, his sharp lobbed shot was deflected and beat a leaping Sean Johnson for a 1-0 lead. It was Rowe’s fifth goal in the last five games.
Chicago leveled in the 30th minute when Joel Lindpere threaded a pass through the Revs defense to Juan Luis Anangono, who converted around a defender. The goal snapped the Revs’ 454-minute shutout streak against Chicago which dated back to Aug. 28, 2012.
As the end of the first half neared, Imbongo and Sene combined to give the Revs a 2-1 lead headed into the interval. Imbongo pulled down Bobby Shuttleworth’s goal kick and worked into space before playing Sene wide on the left. Sene collected the ball and slotted a left-footed shot inside the far post past Johnson.
Sene looked to have given the Revs a two-goal lead in the 50th minute but after Rowe threaded an inch-perfect through ball behind the Fire defense, Sene was flagged for offside after converting past Johnson. Broadcast replays, however, showed that Sene was a yard onside when the ball was played and the goal should have counted.
Chicago then had a chance to equalize in the 54th minute, as Jalil Anibaba worked forward and put a low cross into the box, where Anangono’s shot from six yards was blocked by Andrew Farrell sliding in on the goal line.
The Fire wasted little time to find the tying goal, though when Mike Magee finished off a Patrick Nyarko pass into the box. The Revolution protested as Anangono was in an offside position a yard behind the Revs’ defense and then interfered with defender Jose Goncalves from getting to the ball as it passed inches in front of him toward an on-rushing Magee, but referee Ismail Elfath held his position and pointed toward the center circle for the restart tied at 2-2.
Chicago rallied for the full three points with an 86th minute goal. Goncalves headed out Magee’s corner kick service, but his clearance fell to Alex outside the penalty area. The Fire substitute blasted a shot low and just inside the near post, past a diving Shuttleworth as the Fire claimed a 3-2 lead that stood until the final whistle.