By Kevin Koczwara
FOXBOROUGH, Mass. — The New England Revolution were unable to overcome a first half goal by Chicago Fire midfielder Marco Pappa in the 30th minute and get any points from their match with Chicago, losing 1-0, despite controlling much of the play and enjoying most of the possession.
Neither team waited for the other to take the initiative as both went at one another from the start, trying to get in on goal and get the decisive first goal. New England (3-8-2, 11pts.) struggled to find any space behind Chicago’s (4-3-5, 17 pts.) defense or in the box while, the Fire were able to open the score sheet with a goal from their top goal scorer, Pappa.
Pappa eclipsed his season best for goals when he blasted a shot from 30 yards out past New England’s goalkeeper Matt Reis for his sixth goal of the year in the 30th minute. Pappa was able to find space for his shot after receiving a pass from Fire defender Dasan Robinson in the Revolution’s half, then worked his way into the middle of the field and found no one stepping up on him, so he took his chance on net and it paid off.
“The goal was a classic case of what some of our problems are at the moment,” said Revolution manager Steve Nicol. “That goal is so avoidable, it’s frightening. All it takes is a bit of communication to pass a man on, and that the guy doesn’t get three days to line it up and bury it. It’s a great finish, Matt’s (Reis) got no chance, but it’s so avoidable with someone opening their trap.”
Reis, who made his season debut for the Revolution, had no chance to stop Pappa’s shot, but he did make three saves on the night and was busy as Chicago played on the counter and had plenty of chances to increase its small lead.
The Revolution had the majority of the ball possession but were unable to crack the Fire defense and really trouble their goalkeeper, Andrew Dykstra.
“We keep saying the same things every week. The effort, endeavor, the spirit, you can’t fault that. But in the final third we just don’t have the quality required,” said Nicol. “Tonight it stares you in the face. The final third – whether it’s the final ball, whether it’s the finish – we had some chances.”
The Revolution took 22 shot in the game but put only six of the 22 shots on target, none really ever worried Dykstra and the Chicago defense.
Chicago was able to absorb New England’s second half pressure and secure the win by staying organized and frustrating the Revolution attack. The Revs’s attack has struggled much of the season; only scoring 13 goals in 11 games while conceding 21. But Nico has been concerned with the lack of finishing and creative ability from his squad.
“Our problems are pretty obvious. We are not as good as we should be in the final third. That’s the bottom line … we’re doing all we can to try to change that,” said Nicol.
Nicol will have to turn it around quickly because the Revolution head to Salt Lake City to take on defending MLS Champs, Real Salt Lake at Rio Tinto Stadium where RSL is unbeaten this year.
Kevin Koczwara is a contributing writer and editor for The Soccer Guys. He can be reached at email@example.com.