New England coach Jay Heaps noticed how his players reacted when the second half commenced.
Saër Sène's goal in first-half injury time had staked the Revolution to a 2-1 lead in Saturday's crucial Eastern Conference encounter at Chicago, but the endeavor and the energy did not carry through the break.
The Fire started the second half well as they searched for the tying goal and placed the Revs under some pressure. It didn't last, though. Instead of finding a way through straight away, the Fire watched Sène race behind the back four to meet a Kelyn Rowe through ball and slot past the stranded Sean Johnson.
Replays showed Sène beat the Fire's ragged line on the play, but the assistant referee halted the move for offside nonetheless. It proved a decisive moment in the match: Chicago eventually scored the next two goals – including Alex's winner four minutes from time – to snatch a 3-2 victory at Toyota Park.
“We went into halftime with a little bit of a jump, but, unfortunately, we came out in the second half and never found the rhythm,” Heaps told reporters after the game. “Saër's [disallowed] goal was good. We just saw the film on it. That's disappointing because that leaves you at 3-1.
"It's twofold there, right? We can't defend the way we did. But the linesman can't miss the call he missed. Simple as that. All of us need to be better for our league to go forward.”
Heaps pointed out the Revs' defensive work harmed them as much as the offside adjudications – including Juan Luis Anangono's diversionary tactics from a position behind the line during Mike Magee's equalizer, though the incident lacked the clarity of Sène's chalked off goal – on the evening. New England squandered two leads on the evening to turn a potential re sult into a painful defeat.
“It's a difficult match for us because we had the lead twice and we let it go,” Heaps said. “We're not really a happy group because we didn't finish – or play well – once we got the lead or once we were at 2-2 at the end of the game. We have to be smarter on the last goal.”
New England will hope to learn their lesson quickly after slipping to seventh place in the East with the loss. The setback places additional pressure on the Revs to respond appropriately when D.C. United visit Gillette Stadium on Saturday.
“We'll turn the page,” Heaps said. “I think we'll learn from our mistakes. We'll take our medicine and get back after it.”