Frustrated Fire disappointed to leave NE without a victory

FOXBOROUGH, Mass. — The Chicago Fire entered Saturday’s match at New England ready to continue their winning ways.

Chicago recently put their 11-game winless run to bed with a late goal at Columbus last Sunday. With New England coming off a rather listless 0-0 draw against Toronto on Wednesday, the Fire appeared in better shape than their hosts to build upon their recent success.

For the first 47 minutes of Saturday’s match against the Revs, the Fire lived up to that optimistic outlook. A first half goal by Dominic Oduro gave Chicago a 1-0 lead that — with their three-game shutout streak still intact — left the Fire feeling pretty confident about blanking New England and heading home with all three points.

Then, Revs forward Rajko Lekic scored an equalizer in the 48th minute. Unable to answer with a game-winner, the hard-pressing Chicago side begrudgingly left Gillette Stadium with a 1-1 draw.

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“We’re a little disappointed,” Fire winger Patrick Nyarko told Comcast SportsNet Chicago after the match. “We felt we had the game in hand.”

New England’s goal disappointed Nyarko in particular. The Ghanaian forward thought the Chicago back line pulled the unmarked Rekic offside before the Danish striker finished from the top of the six-yard-box.

“We thought he was completely offside,” Nyarko said. “The defense did their job stepping up and they caught the guy offside but the assistant referee didn’t see it.”

Fire interim head coach Frank Klopas wasn’t convinced by the call either.

“In the speed of play from where I was sitting, I thought maybe the guy was off,” Klopas said on Comcast’s postgame show.

Chicago attempted to fire back after Lekic’s equalizer by pushing the game and creating numerous chances in the second half. The Fire found numerous good looks at goal but couldn’t sneak a go-ahead goal by New England goalkeeper Matt Reis, who stoned the Fire on several occasions.

“Reis was excellent tonight,” Fire 'keeper Sean Johnson told Comcast. “I think he did a superb job of keeping them in the game tonight. He made a few huge saves to keep the game at 1-1 as well as earlier on in the game.”

For all of Reis’ heroics, Chicago saw their best chance stopped by a field player: midfielder Ryan Guy. The substitute winger made a tremendous goal line clearance in the 73rd minute, jumping to block Fire forward Orr Barouch’s powerful header from going into the top right corner. 

Chicago now head back to Toyota Park for a tough two-game homestand against Real Salt Lake and New York and feeling like they could’ve snatched their second win in a row Saturday.

“We came here to push and get the win,” Klopas said. “But we’ll take the point. It’s a difficult place to play, we pushed the game in the second half and we created a lot of opportunities. But in the end, we get a point and now have two games at home.”

Sam Stejskal covers the Chicago Fire for MLSsoccer.com. Email him at sam.h.stejskal@gmail.com and follow him on Twitter @samstejskal.