The New England Revolution extended their league-high win streak to five matches with a comprehensive 2-0 victory against the Chicago Fire on Saturday night, as goals from Pat Noonan and Clint Dempsey on either side of halftime sealed the victory for Steve Nicol's side.
On a cold, rainy night at Gillette Stadium, the home side dominated the Fire for the second time in three weeks with a fluid, attacking style that limited the visitors to one or two fleeting chances on goal. Noonan opened the Revolution account in the 34th minute with a well-taken goal, then Dempsey's acrobatic effort just before the hour provided the final scoreline.
Fresh off a 3-0 victory by the Revolution in Chicago a week and a half ago, the teams engineered a cagey start to the match. Chicago handed a debut to Slovakian international striker Lubos Reiter in place of rookie Chris Rolfe. New England remained unchanged from last week's 1-0 victory against Chivas USA.
Despite an off-target shot from New England's Andy Dorman, the Fire controlled the opening quarter of the match, possessing well in the back but failing to create incisive, dangerous chances. Half-chances by Justin Mapp (14th minute) and Andy Herron (20th minute) gave Matt Reis little trouble in the Revolution goal.
Gradually, the Revolution pressed forward. Maintaining possession in the attacking third after interplay between Shalrie Joseph and Dempsey, Joseph distributed wide left on 27 minutes only to see Marshall Leonard scuff his cross behind the net. Joseph then struck a long range drive straight into Zach Thornton's awaiting arms in the 32nd minute.
Dempsey provided the impetus for the opener two minutes later. The rangy midfielder made a forceful run into the area and distributed to Noonan. Poise and composure pushed Noonan around Ivan Guerrero and Jim Curtin on a run from the right toward the center of the goal before slotting home at the far post.
After the break, it all fell apart for the visitors as the Revolution ran rampant in the early stages of the second stanza to seal their fifth victory on the trot. But Justin Mapp had a chance to alter destiny as the second half opened as he hit a soft free kick from 25 yards, yet it was easily gathered by Reis. The Revs sealed the match on 58 minutes, as the talismanic Dempsey capped off an impressive offensive move. Twellman started the move on the right side of the box. His cross found Steve Ralston at the near post, where he sent a rainbow flick over his head to find the onrushing Dempsey at the six.
The Texan finished with aplomb, flicking the ball back over his head and goalkeeper Zach Thornton, celebrating the goal by reeling in his teammates in a fisherman-style celebration.
After the second goal, space opened for the home side, and they spurned numerous chances to make it three. Noonan and Twellman nearly connected in the 60th minute. Dempsey then torched Guerrero with a surging run down the right flank in the 65th minute and slotted in to Twellman moving towards the near post, but the prolific striker lost the ball in his feet.
Rolfe, a 68th-minute sub for Andy Herron, provided a great chance to pull a vital goal back for the Fire in the 78th minute when he beat Michael Parkhurst at the top of box before firing just wide. That would be prove to be the last hurrah for Chicago hopes.
MLSnet.com Man of the Match: Pat Noonan (New England Revolution)
Kyle McCarthy is a contributor to MLSnet.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Soccer or its clubs.
Chicago Fire (3-3-1) vs. New England Revolution (5-0-1)
May 07, 2005 -- Gillette Stadium
NE -- Pat Noonan 4 (Clint Dempsey 4) 34
NE -- Clint Dempsey 5 (Steve Ralston 1, Taylor Twellman 3) 58
Chicago Fire -- Zach Thornton, C.J. Brown, Jim Curtin, Ivan Guerrero, Lubos Reiter, Chris Armas, Jesse Marsch, Thiago, Andy Herron (Chris Rolfe 68), Tony Sanneh (Nate Jaqua 81), Justin Mapp.
Substitutes Not Used: Logan Pause, Matt Pickens, Jack Stewart.
TOTAL SHOTS: 12 (Chris Armas 3, Jesse Marsch 3); SHOTS ON GOAL: 6 (Chris Armas 2); FOULS: 13 (3 tied with 2); OFFSIDES: 2 (Andy Herron 1, Chris Rolfe 1); CORNER KICKS: 4 (Justin Mapp 3); SAVES: 3 (Zach Thornton 3)
New England Revolution -- Matt Reis, Jay Heaps, Michael Parkhurst, Avery John, Steve Ralston, Clint Dempsey, Andy Dorman, Shalrie Joseph, Marshall Leonard, Taylor Twellman (Khano Smith 86), Pat Noonan.
Substitutes Not Used: Jose Cancela, Connally Edozien, Jeff Larentowicz, Ryan Latham, Luke Vercollone, Doug Warren.
TOTAL SHOTS: 10 (Pat Noonan 3); SHOTS ON GOAL: 5 (5 tied with 1); FOULS: 10 (Clint Dempsey 4); OFFSIDES: 6 (Taylor Twellman 5); CORNER KICKS: 1 (Andy Dorman 1); SAVES: 6 (Matt Reis 6)
CHI -- Jesse Marsch (caution; Dissent) 82
Referee: Brian Hall
Referee's Assistants: -George Gansner; Richard Eddy
4th Official: Erich Simmons
Time of Game: 1:50
All statistics contained in this boxscore are unofficial.