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June 18, 2011
Revs, Fire play to 1-1 draw

By Adam Burrows, New England Soccer News contributor

Rajko Lekic’s 48th minute goal lifted the Revs into a 1-1 tie with Chicago Saturday at Gillette Stadium.
Rajko Lekic’s 48th minute goal lifted the Revs into a 1-1 tie with Chicago Saturday at Gillette Stadium.
Linda Cuttone/Sports Vue Images
FOXBOROUGH, Mass--The New England Revolution and the Chicago Fire played to 1-1 tie Saturday night in an engaging and evenly matched contest that produced 32 shots and abundant scoring opportunities for both sides, but couldn't end the Revolution's streak of five league games without a win.

Dominic Oduro gave the Fire a 1-0 lead in the 32nd minute, and Rajko Lekic equalized for the Revolution in the 48th.

New England (3-7-5) and Chicago (2-4-8) entered the game even at 14 points, the lowest totals in the league save Kansas City and expansion Vancouver, but the teams had been moving in opposite directions over recent weeks.

The Revolution hasn’t won since May 14, while the Fire, who struggled early in the season, were undefeated in their last four games and coming off a 1-0 victory against Conference rival Columbus.

For the second consecutive game, Revolution coach Steve Nicol went with a two-striker 4-4-2 set-up, pairing Kenny Mansally with Lekic up top. While the strategy yielded several early scoring opportunities, the Fire were first on the board.

In the fourth minute, Revolution ‘keeper Matt Reis touched midfielder Jalil Anibaba’s long strike over the bar.

A long diagonal ball in the 9th minute from Mansally at the mid-field circle found Sainey Nyassi screaming down the right flank, but his attempt to the near post was smothered by Chicago keeper Sean Johnson.

A probing free kick from Chris Tierney in the 13th was headed by Joseph toward Lekic but he couldn’t corral it at the end line.

In the 16th Colombian forward Cristian Nazarit beat New England central defender Franco Corea, starting in place of an injured Ryan Cochrane, with a nifty move at the edge of the box but his toed chip over a frozen Reis glanced off the crossbar.

After a series of long balls that ping-ponged up and down the field, Nyassi delivered a nice cross in the 21st minute that was half-volleyed on frame by Lekic but punched out energetically by Johnson.

New England produced its best chance of the half in the 28th minute. A long ball from left back Darrius Barnes found right back Kevin Alston in the box. Alston headed back to Lekic, whose powerful left footed volley forced a lunging save by Johnson to his right.

A Patrick Nyarko blast from outside the box was double fisted into safety by Reis in the 29th minute. A Dominic Oduro goal was nullified by an offside call in the 30th minute, but two minutes later, Chicago launched a quick counter-attack off a Revolution corner that led to game’s first score. Patrick Nyarko took the clearance on the left wing and sent the ball to Oduro, who took it in stride racing down the middle of the field. Oduro forced Barnes to back-pedal then fired quickly to beat Reis to his right and open the scoring.

In the 38th Nyassi faked outside, made another inside move past Segares, then poked a perfect cross to Mansally, whose open header from inside the six-yard box somehow went over the bar.

The Revolution evened the score less than three minutes into the second half. Pat Phelan’s mis-hit attempt from the edge of box was collected by Lekic, who struck it calmly and decisively past Johnson as the Fire appealed in vain for offside. Replays supported the non-call as former Revolution defender Cory Gibbs had played Lekic onside.

In the 53rd another Nyassi cross sailed just over the head of the onrushing Tierney. A minute later, Tierney’s corner was nearly tucked inside the near post by A.J. Soares, but Johnson reacted quickly and was able to touch the ball wide.

An attacking run by Phelan in the 65th produced a Segares yellow card and free kick that was played quickly by Joseph at the edge of the box. His pass found Mansally scooting into the box from left to right but his right-footed strike went high.

Newly acquired midfielder Ryan Guy made his Revolution debut in the 71st minute in place of Tierney and soon averted a Chicago score as he jumped to head Orr Barouch’s header off a corner kick that was headed for the upper corner of the net.

In the 79th Oduro forced a save from Reis with another strike from the right and two minutes later, Chicago substitute Daniel Paladini drilled a left-footed shot that a leaping Reis leaped to knock over the bar with an outstretched left hand.

Gabriel Ferrari came on for Nazarit in the 85th minute, and had a great breakaway chance three minutes later but a hard touch took him wide and his shot was ably turned aside by Reis.

The wide-open action continued into stoppage time as Barnes slid in to block an open Oduro chance in the box, and in the waning moments Lekic acrobatically juggled the ball from thigh to thigh to set up a left-footed volley that curved just wide of the Fire net as time ran out.
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