Same old issues for Revs in 1-0 loss to Chicago

Same old issues for Revs in 1-0 loss to Chicago

By Danny Picard
CSNNE.com

FOXBORO -- The return from a two-week World Cup break was supposed to be an opportunity for the New England Revolution to start anew, after beginning the year with a 3-7-2 record. Instead, the same issues plagued the Revs on Sunday night in a 1-0 loss to the Chicago Fire at Gillette Stadium.

The Revolution took nine more shots (22) and had one more shot on goal (six) than the Fire on Sunday night, but failed to finish offensively a problem New England has faced all season long.

"In the final third, we just don't have the quality required," said Revolution coach Steve Nicol after Sunday's loss. "Tonight it's just staring you in the face. In the final third, whether it's the final ball, whether it's the finish, we had some chances.

"You can't fault the effort or the commitment. It's just the quality, the end of it, it's not there."

Chicago needed only one goal on a night in which Revs goalkeeper Matt Reis made his MLS season debut, after missing the entire first half of the year recovering from offseason shoulder and knee surgeries.

Marco Pappa's goal in the 30th minute went into the net after hitting Reis in the hand, but it was a scoring chance that could have been avoided had it not been the result of a New England communication breakdown on the defensive end.

"The goal was a classic case of what some of our problems are at the moment," said Nicol. "That goal was so avoidable, it's frightening. All it takes is better communication.

"The goal tonight, all it takes is for somebody to open their mouth. All these things are preventable, and we're trying to do something about it."

There was nothing Reis could do with Pappa's rocket from 30 yards out, as he stepped up uncontested and let a hard shot go up the middle, hitting Reis' hand as he dove to his right, and finding the back of the net to give Chicago a 1-0 lead.

But even with Pappa's goal, the Revolution had chances to finish, and continued to put the pressure on late in the second half. Unfortunately for the Revs, Chicago had stacked all 10 players into the box, forcing New England to perfect their service in the box.

That perfection was not there, and the Revolution begin the second half of the season with a hard-fought loss.

"We work hard in practice all week to gain, and then it just feels demoralizing and really bad that we just can't put it together when game night comes," said Revs captain Shalrie Joseph.

Midfielder Pat Phelan added that this type of defeat is tougher to swallow because they didn't necessarily get outplayed by Chicago.

"If we don't put chances away early, and stuff like that happens, we make it awful difficult for ourselves," said Phelan after the loss. "It's our job to come out and establish a game plan and go at them, especially at home, and put them on their heels, and we didn't do that.

"If a team passes the ball around us and beats us 8-0, I don't think that would feel as bad as it does when you shoot yourself in the foot consistently from game to game," he added. "So it's really frustrating."

Danny Picard is on Twitter at http:twitter.comDannyPicard

Lionel Messi says he is quitting Argentina national team

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Lionel Messi says he is quitting Argentina national team

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- Lionel Messi says he is quitting Argentina's national team.

Argentina and Messi lost a final for the third year in a row, with Chile winning the Copa America 4-2 on penalty kicks following a 0-0 tie Sunday night.

His nation's career scoring leader with 55 international goals, Messi sent Argentina's first penalty kick over the crossbar.

Messi tells the Argentine network TyC Sports "the national team is over for me. It's been four finals, it's not meant for me. I tried. It was the thing I wanted the most, but I couldn't get it, so I think it's over."

Messi and Argentina lost to Brazil in the 2007 Copa final and to Germany in extra time in the 2014 World Cup final. They lost last year's Copa final to host Chile on penalty kicks.

The 29-year-old Messi has led Barcelona to four Champions League titles.

Chile wins 2nd straight Copa America title as Messi misses

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Chile wins 2nd straight Copa America title as Messi misses

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. — Lionel Messi still awaits his first title with Argentina's national team.

Messi put his penalty kick over the crossbar, Francisco Silva converted Chile's shootout finale and La Roja won their second straight Copa America title by beating Argentina 4-2 on penalty kicks following a 0-0 tie Sunday night.

Playing two days after his 29th birthday, Messi lost a final for the third year in a row following an extra-time defeat to Germany in the 2014 World Cup and a penalty-kicks loss to host Chile in last year's Copa America. The five-time FIFA Player of the Year has won four Champions League titles and eight La Liga crowns with Barcelona, but has never taken a trophy with Argentina's senior team.

For its 100th anniversary, South America's championship was expanded to 16 nations and played in the United States, and Argentina was hoping to win its first major title since 1993.

In an ill-tempered match that included an ejection on each side and eight yellow cards, the match was scoreless through regulation and 30 minutes of extra time, with Argentina's Gonzalo Higuain missing a clear goal-scoring opportunity for the third straight final. Argentina outshot Chile 16-4 and La Roja collapsed three, four and even five defenders around the bearded Messi, then chopped down the diminutive attacker when he tried to accelerate toward the goal.

Messi, who scored five goals in the tournament, had a free kick 28 yards out in the 115th minute after Francisco SIlva fouled him, but the ball deflected off the wall and over the crossbar. Messi's 35-yard free kick was headed on target by Aguero in the 10th minute of extra time, and Chile goalkeeper Claudio Bravo jumped extended his right hand to tip the ball over the crossbar.

Argentina goalkeeper Sergio Romero saved the opening kick by Arturo Vidal, and up stepped Messi, the best player of his generation and considered alongside Brazil's Pele and Argentina's Diego Maradona as the sport's greatest ever. While he won the titles at the under-20 and Olympic (under-23) levels for Argentina, in the minds of many he needs a title with his nation's senior team to solidify his place as one of the greats.

Messi sent his shot over Bravo — his Barcelona teammate — and into the stands. Messi turned, bowed his head and clenched both fists in frustration.

Nicolas Castillo and Charles Aranguiz converted their kicks for Chile, and Javier Mascherano and Sergio Aguero made theirs, leaving the teams tied 2-2 after three rounds.

Jean Beausejour put Chile ahead, and Bravo dived to his right, saving Lucas Biglia's shot and bringing up Silva, a 30-year-old midfielder. Messi briefly pulled his jersey of his face, as if not wanting to watch.

Romero dived to his left and the shot went in to his right, giving Chile another title.

Messi crouched over, as if in pain, then got up, took off his captain's armband and walked to the bench, where he was consoled by Angel Di Maria. After Messi came back on the field, Aguero put a hand on one of Messi's shoulders. And new FIFA President Gianni Infantino gave Messi a pat on the back when Messi came onto the podium with his teammates for his second-place medal. Messi almost immediately took it off.

It was the fourth final loss for Messi, who also played for Argentina in its penalty-kicks loss to Brazil in the 2004 final.

A crowd of 82,076 at MetLife Stadium — the largest to see a soccer game in New Jersey — raised the tournament total to just under 1.48 million. The average of 46,119, nearly double the 25,223 in Chile last year, will be used by the U.S. Soccer Federation as evidence it deserves to host a World Cup again, likely as part of a bid for the 2026 tournament.

Brazilian referee Heber Lopes became the focus in the first half, ejecting a pair of defenders: Chile's Marcelo Diaz in the 28th minute and Argentina's Marcos Rojo in the 43rd. After issuing six yellow cards during a World Cup qualifier between the nations in March, Lopes handed out eight yellows, including one to Messi for diving in the 40th minute, and the two reds.

Diaz got his first yellow for hacking down Messi about 28 yards out in the 16th minute, then got his second for obstructing a charging Messi about 30 yards out. Rojo received a straight red when he slid into Arturo Vidal from behind and poked away the ball, but Vidal's leg bent awkwardly under his body as he fell.

Higuain had the best first-half chance in the 21st minute when he picked up a giveaway from Gary Medel, dribbled in and chipped the ball over Bravo only to have it roll wide of the far post. It was almost the exact time he broke in alone during the World Cup final against Germany and also shot wide. Higuain also missed a tap-in of Ezequiel Lavezzi's cross during the final minute of regulation in last year's final, then sent his penalty kick during the shootout over the crossbar.

Revolution shut out by D.C. United, 2-0

Revolution shut out by D.C. United, 2-0

WASHINGTON -- Lamar Neagle had a goal and an assist to give D.C. United an early lead that stood up in a 2-0 victory over the New England Revolution on Saturday night.

D.C., after being shut out in its two previous games and four of six, opened the scoring in the 20th minute when Luciano Acosta chipped a perfect pass over the defense to the foot of Neagle, who volleyed it in from 10 yards out.

Sean Franklin scored the second goal, his first of the season, when he knocked in Neagle's cross. Albaro Saborio sent a long ball down the right sideline that Neagle ran down and crossed to Franklin for the easy counter.

D.C. (5-6-5) leapfrogged the Revolution (4-5-7) into fifth in the Eastern Conference with its fourth shutout in the last seven games and improved to 2-0-1 in the series this season.