BRIDGEVIEW, Ill. – Jerry Bengtson has come in for criticism since joining the New England Revolution last July, but the Honduran forward will be praised all week after his goal led the Revs to an historic, 1-0, win over the Chicago Fire on Saturday night.
Despite conceding possession and creating precious few full chances, the Revs earned their first victory at Toyota Park since 2006, breaking a seven-match winless streak (0-6-1) in Bridgeview.
Bengtson, who scored only twice in 13 appearances last season, nodded home the winner in the 63rd minute, after beating the Fire's offside trap in the wake of a poor clearance on a corner kick.
The Fire suffered their second straight loss, but controlled the majority of offensive possession in the first half, and should've gone ahead in the 27th minute. Patrick Nyarko fought two defenders for possession and gifted Sherjill MacDonald a chance just outside the six-yard box. But the Dutchman couldn't muster any power behind the shot and the ball trickled to Matt Reis.
Dilly Duka almost put the Fire on the board in the 31st minute, when he collected a layoff from Chris Rolfe about 30 yards from goal and cracked a hard shot that Reis stretched to tip off the cross bar.
In the 50th minute, Joel Lindpere appeared to be in alone on goal but inexplicably chose to pass the ball wide. His pass was off the mark and Reis was able to come collect the ball easily.
Minutes later, the tide changed, after Kelyn Rowe replaced rookie Donnie Smith in the 53rd minute. The change saw the Revolution take over possession, as Rose, Juan Toja, and Lee Nguyen clicked and again.
OPTA Chalkboard: Rowe, Toja, and Nguyen control possession for NE
In the 57th minute, Toja was through on goal after a dazzling combination play with Nguyen and Rowe, but Fire goalkeeper Sean Johnson and a last-minute slide from defender Austin Berry managed to intercede and knock the ball over for a corner kick.
It was an omen of things to come.
The goal was engineered by Toja and Rowe. Toja controlled a loose ball at the top of the box and laid the ball back to Rowe, who looped the ball to the far post, where Bengtson was lurking and calmly able to finish his header.
Rowe now has three assists and a goal in four games against the Fire.
The other star turn on the night for the Revs came from rookie Andrew Farrell, the number one overall pick in this year's MLS SuperDraft. The Louisville product started at right back and looked every bit the pro observers expected as he helped New England keep the Fire off the board, despite the attacking lineup that included Lindpere, Nyarko, Duka, Rolfe, and Sherjill MacDonald.
Chicago have now yet to score a goal in two matches this season. Their next chance will come in a week's time, when they will travel to Sporting KC on Saturday (3 pm ET, NBC Sports Network).
The Revolution will remain on the road and head to Philadelphia on Saturday (5 pm ET, Univision Deportes/MLS Live).
MLSsoccer.com Men of the Match
|Rank||Player||What We Saw|
|1||Juan Toja||Threatening all night for the Revs, played integral role in the goal|
|2||Matt Reis||Made a huge save on Duka in first half when Chicago were in control, and a late save to preserve to win|
|3||Joel Lindpere||Nearly every chance the Fire created came through the Estonian, but he should've shot when he had a clear run at goal in the 50'.|