The New England Revolution continued their torrid start to the 2005 season and laid an early claim as the team to beat in the Eastern Conference, scoring a pair of goals late in the first half and then holding their ground in the second for a comfortable 3-0 victory against the Chicago Fire on Wednesday night at Soldier Field.
The Revolution carried a two-goal lead into the halftime break on beautiful goals 11 minutes apart from Clint Dempsey and Pat Noonan before a goal from Taylor Twellman -- the 50th of his career -- in second-half stoppage time sealed the victory for a suddenly powerful offensive juggernaut that has scored two or more goals in every game this season, 10 goals in their last three games and won two consecutive road matches with a slew of goals.
New England entered the game in first place in the Eastern Conference with seven points after three games, the best start in their history. In the first half against the Fire on a very blustery night in the Windy City they wasted little time establishing their presence, controlling the early possession though offensive opportunities were limited.
Noonan saw an early effort skim the outside of the right post, and then later he hit a tame shot into the safe hands of Chicago goalkeeper Zach Thornton.
Last year's MLS Rookie of the Year, Clint Dempsey, was at the heart of all the Revolution's dangerous movements in the opening half hour and fittingly he provided the goal as the visitors finally broke through in the 33rd minute.
Midfielder Shalrie Joseph threaded a pass deep into the box from the right hand side to Dempsey, who was marked closely by two Fire defenders. Dempsey stepped through the defenders by flicking the ball into the air, took one step, and ripped a full volley into the top right corner past a stunned Thornton.
The Fire seemed to wake up after falling behind, applying decent pressure on the Revs. A spell of pressure led to a corner kick in the 42nd minute -- which then turned disastrous for the home side.
A drive from the top of the New England area was deflected to Dempsey, who immediately took off on a rampaging run down the right touchline. As Dempsey approached the Chicago area, he slowed down and slipped a ball to James Riley in the corner.
Riley ran onto the ball and unleashed low cross across the length of the Fire goal, where it found its way to Revs forward Pat Noonan who deftly corralled the ball and fired a low, hard shot back across the face of goal and inside the far post.
In the second half the Fire attempted to press, and were largely successful in controlling possession for extended periods, but the Revs appeared to be very comfortable in counterattack mode. While the Fire had numerous solid offensive chances later in the second half, they were unable to get back into the match by solving Revolution 'keeper Matt Reis for that crucial first goal.
Substitute Chris Rolfe provided a spark for the Fire coming off the bench, and after screwing a shot wide of the mark while in almost completely alone on goal, he then did force Reis into a late save in the final real gasp for Chicago.
The icing on the cake for New England came in the 94th minute as Twellman took the ball from just near midfield, marched in and drilled an angled shot from 15 yards past a defenseless Thornton to complete the scoreline.
The Revolution return to Gillette Stadium for the first of four home games over the next five when they take on Chivas USA on Saturday at 7:30 p.m. ET (FSC). The Fire travel to Columbus where they will take on the Crew on Saturday night (7:30 p.m. ET).
MLSnet.com Man of the Match: Clint Dempsey (New England Revolution)
Toby True is a contributor to MLSnet.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Soccer or its clubs.
New England Revolution (2-0-1) vs. Chicago Fire (2-1-1)
April 27, 2005 -- Soldier Field
NE -- Clint Dempsey 3 (Shalrie Joseph 1, Taylor Twellman 2) 32
NE -- Pat Noonan 3 (James Riley 3, Clint Dempsey 3) 43
NE -- Taylor Twellman 3 (unassisted) 95+
New England Revolution -- Matt Reis, Jay Heaps, Michael Parkhurst, Avery John, James Riley (Luke Vercollone 86), Clint Dempsey, Andy Dorman, Shalrie Joseph, Marshall Leonard, Taylor Twellman, Pat Noonan.
Substitutes Not Used: Connally Edozien, Ryan Latham, Doug Warren.
TOTAL SHOTS: 10 (Pat Noonan 3, Taylor Twellman 3); SHOTS ON GOAL: 6 (Pat Noonan 2, Taylor Twellman 2); FOULS: 8 (Shalrie Joseph 3); OFFSIDES: 6 (Pat Noonan 3, Taylor Twellman 3); CORNER KICKS: 3 (Andy Dorman 3); SAVES: 3 (Matt Reis 3)
Chicago Fire -- Zach Thornton, C.J. Brown (Andy Herron 78), Jim Curtin, Samuel Caballero, Kelly Gray, Chris Armas, Jesse Marsch (Chris Rolfe 69), Ivan Guerrero, Thiago, Nate Jaqua (Chad Barrett 72), Justin Mapp.
Substitutes Not Used: Scott Buete, Leonard Griffin, Will John, Logan Pause, Matt Pickens, Jack Stewart.
TOTAL SHOTS: 17 (Justin Mapp 5); SHOTS ON GOAL: 3 (3 tied with 1); FOULS: 10 (Samuel Caballero 3, Thiago 3); OFFSIDES: 6 (Nate Jaqua 2); CORNER KICKS: 3 (Justin Mapp 2); SAVES: 3 (Zach Thornton 3)
CHI -- Samuel Caballero (caution; Professional Foul) 14
CHI -- Jesse Marsch (caution; Reckless Foul) 28
NE -- Jay Heaps (caution; Professional Foul) 48
NE -- Shalrie Joseph (caution; Tackle from Behind) 70
CHI -- C.J. Brown (caution; Game Disrepute) 72
Referee: Abiodun Okulaja
Referee's Assistants: -Chris Strickland; Anthony Vasoli
4th Official: Hilario Grajeda
Weather: Partly Cloudy-and-48-degrees
All statistics contained in this boxscore are unofficial.