,A wild first 30 minutes saw Chicago Fire FC and the New England Revolution split four goals, but neither side were able to find a winner in a 2-2 season-opening draw at Soldier Field in Chicago on Saturday evening.
After just missing out on the Audi MLS Cup Playoffs in 2020, it didn't take Chicago long to find the scoreboard in front of their home fans. Pretty buildup play by the Fire found Boris Sekulic in space on the right-hand side, with the cross from the Slovakian international finding Robert Beric for the easy finish and the match's opening goal. In the 11th minute, Beric was involved once more as his nifty pass in the box found a wide-open Luka Stojanovic to extend the lead to 2-0.
New England, though, pulled one back moments later just before the quarter-hour mark on a corner kick routine as Adam Buksa's header sailed past Bobby Shuttleworth into the back of the net. They'd level the score in the 27th as the Fire were caught napping on a restart, ultimately conceding the equalizer to Gustavo Bou to make it a 2-2 game. Set pieces continued to be a struggle for the Fire as Buksa nearly repeated his feat from earlier in the 39th minute, but the attempt sailed over the bar.
The second half couldn't live up to the action of the first, but Chicago enjoyed the better of the chances as time went on despite never truly troubling Revs goalkeeper Matt Turner. Beric, though, had a great chance at a match-winner in the 85th minute, but his shot inside the box sailed just wide of the net. Moments later, the Revs' Edward Kizza had an even better chance at a winner but was denied by the woodwork.
But, in stoppage time, a penalty was initially awarded to Chicago as Przemyslaw Frankowski was ruled to have been taken down by DeJuan Jones, who was shown a red card for a professional, last-man foul. Video Review, though, determined that the foul occurred just outside the box resulting in just a free-kick although the red card would stand.
- THE BIG PICTURE: An old-school MLS rivalry was re-ignited on Saturday as the Fire got off to a quick start with 8,102 fans in attendance at Soldier Field, Chicago's first home match with spectators in attendance in just over a year. Raphael Wicky's side, though, will rue poor defending on a pair of restarts that allowed the visitors back into it and deny the Fire a season-opening win. New England fans won't be at all thrilled with how their team began the match, but will at least be happy with how they eventually clawed back into it.
- MOMENT OF THE MATCH: Penalty or no penalty? There could have certainly been a case for Chicago being awarded a kick from the spot. However, Fotis Bozakos' trip to the monitor and conversation with the VAR official reversed the call.
- MAN OF THE MATCH: After a terrific debut season in MLS last year, it didn't take Beric to get off the mark in 2021 as the Slovenian striker was involved in both of Chicago's goals on the evening.
- CHI: Saturday, April 24 vs. Atlanta United FC | 8 pm ET (MLS LIVE on ESPN+)
- NE: Saturday, April 24 vs. D.C. United | 8 pm ET (MLS LIVE on ESPN+)